Among thousands of 21 km participants of VnExpress Marathon (VM) Quy Nhon 2020 in the south central beach town in late July, Binh’s result did not reach the top half, having finished his first race in one hour and 53 minutes. But for the thermal power engineer from Ninh Binh, the achievement felt akin to conquering Everest.
Dinh Nam Binh at the VnExpress Marathon Quy Nhon on July 26, 2020. Photo courtesy of VnExpress Marathon.
It all started in August 2018 with a prolonged business trip to Saudi Arabia during which Binh suffered a small, apparently insignificant scratch to his leg.
Just a few days later, diagnosed with near-fatal staph infection, Binh was flown home via Dubai.
At Noi Bai International Airport, his wife was shocked to him unconscious and with his entire body swollen. Prior to infection, Binh weighed 70 kg. With kidney and liver failure induced by staph bacteria, he gained 10 kg due to the abnormal retention of water in his body.
After five days, doctors at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases and Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi told Binh’s family of his critical condition, confirming his 2 percent chance of survival. With most his vital organs severely affected, especially the kidneys and heart, Binh had to be placed on ventilation and constant dialysis.
“At that moment, my family prepared for the worst,” he recalled.
On the 6th day, Binh suddenly regained consciousness, but suffered progressive, seemingly unstoppable necrosis.
After 21 days of treatment, doctors finally managed to halt the spread of staph bacteria, allowing Binh gradual recovery and subsequent discharge. Despite the good news, the road to rehabilitation proved long.
Dinh Nam Binh on his last day of treatment at Bach Mai Hospital in 2018. Photo courtesy of Dinh Nam Binh.
With his right leg bearing the consequences of infection, doctors confirmed Binh would be wheelchair-bound for life.
“According to medical records, my body had suffered necrosis of 5 percent, mostly on my right thigh, where I only had a small amount of muscle left. I couldn’t stand on both feet,” Binh said, adding at one point he had thought his life to be over.
Among the doctors who diagnosed and treated him, only doctor Ngo Duc Ngoc of Bach Mai Hospital believed in his future recovery.
“I didn’t die after a coma of five days, there’s no reason I can’t return to normal life,” Binh maintained.
Following Dr. Ngoc’s advice, Binh commenced physiotherapy at Hanoi Medical University Hospital for two weeks, which gradually helped his leg improve. For the next two months, he also started walking and swimming while at home.
At the end of 2018, Binh finally switched to running, taking tips from a smartphone app. With his leg increasingly agile, he set a target of two to three kilometers a day.
Over a year later, Binh was running 10 km each weekend, conquered the 15 km around the West Lake in one hour and 23 minutes, then entered his first 21 km at the VnExpress marathon in the south central beach town Quy Nhon.
Dinh Nam Binh on site at a thermal power plant in Pakistan in April 2019. Photo courtesy of Dinh Nam Binh.
“For me there is nothing more precious than being able to walk by myself. During the Quy Nhon marathon, I thought about the past two years, how many efforts, trials and pain I had endured just to run normally like this,” Binh said.
To the doctors who had treated him in the past, his recovery is a true miracle, with even his 3rd degree heart regurgitation cured.
Binh uses his free time at work to go for a run while this colleagues rest. Five days a week he undergoes a recovery session, two speed sessions, and a long run, covering a total distance of about 50 km. His weight is currently around 62 kg, which he considers not bad for a 45-year-old.