Raul Rodriguez-33

Personal Stories: Raul Rodriguez

My name is Raul Rodriguez; I am a 33 years old from El Paso Texas. I am 6’2 210 (now 198) pounds I have for the most part been healthy all my life except for my high blood pressure that has gone almost always uncontrolled since I was about 22 years old.

On November 21, 2007 I woke up and as I got out of bed I felt a sharp pain that seemed to rotate from my chest to my back. I thought for sure I was having a heart attack, so I chewed an aspirin and drove myself to Las Palmas Medical Center’s ER.

I arrived and after the verified my health insurance they took me in my vitals where all ok my BP was 185/120. They did an EKG, blood work and chest X-Ray and gave me 6cc of morphine for the pain. After a couple of hours a doctor went in and told me I wasn’t having a heart attack all I had was high blood pressure and it probably gave me a sore heart muscle. He told me he would give me a prescription to control my BP and to make an appointment ASAP with a primary doctor.

I called a Dr. I know German Reject and I was given an appointment the following Monday. I felt very good because of the morphine and the fact that I was told that my heart was ok. So I went back to work. That was the week of Thanksgiving and I didn’t take care of myself at all I exercised, drank alcohol, didn’t sleep well and stayed out vary late every day that weekend.

I didn’t even take the medicine prescribed to me by the ER doc because he wrote for me to take 1-4 pills a day and the pharmacist at Walgreen’s told me that didn’t t make sense I called the hospital so they could clarify but they where very rude, the PA didn’t let me speak to the doctor. They told me I had to go back to the ER pay another co-pay so they could give me another prescription.

Monday morning I was going into work a little late to because I had my Dr’s appointment at 8:00 am. I woke up at 7:00 am and got up to brush my teeth; suddenly I felt like someone stabbed me. The pain was back 10 times stronger again in my chess and back. I have never felt something so terrible in my life. This time I could not drive myself I was literally rolling on the floor but somehow I managed to get to a phone and dial 911.

In minutes Firemen and Paramedics where in my house. They gave me something for the pain and rushed me back to Las Palmas Medical Center. I thought I was going to die! I got there and again I went trough the same thing. EKG, blood work and chest EX-RAY and I were told everything was OK. My BP was 167/89 this time, but they where going to give me a CT scan. It took a few minutes and a nurse told me the doctor ordered that I not move until he read the results of the CT scan. A PA walked in and told me not to move or panic but I had a hole in my aorta and I was going to need emergency surgery.

I remained calm but scared. After about an hour a heart surgeon Dr. Lyn said I may not need surgery that they where going to put me in ICU and control my BP. A few days later I was told I had a Type B Descending aortic dissection that went from right under my heart to my right leg, but with medication to lower my blood pressure it would heal in time. They also did some test for my kidneys and discovered one was not functioning because of reduced blood flow.

After a few days it seemed to go back to normal. After 11 days (a Friday) I got out of the hospital with 3 different types of BP medication. The following Monday I went to see my Primary doctor; he told me I should go to Houston and seek a second opinion. Then he checked my BP it was 170/90 he told me to check my self back to the ER. I spent 5 more days there and I finally got my BP under control with four medications. While I was back in the hospital my doctor was trying to get me MEDIVAC to Houston but was unsuccessful.  My cardiologist said he already got several opinions and at this time he is very optimistic that it will heal and I won’t need surgery.

The surgeon and my cardiologist Dr. De Luca both think I’ll be OK without surgery but my primary doctor is a little paranoid to the point that Drʼ De Luca told me not to let his anxiety make me anxious. I’ve been out of the Hospital for over a week and my blood pressure is under control. I have an appointment with my cardiologist in a month and I am scheduled for another CT scan in three months than every six months. I am back to work but I am not allowed to carry anything heavy. Other than having minor pains in my back that seem to come and go I feel great. I almost feel 100%.

The only thing is that I am very depressed but I refuse to take any antidepressants that will alter my mood. I feel that I’m going trough a good phase but something terrible is going to happen to me soon. I have yet to learn about someone who didn’t have surgery and had a happy ending. I know I am lucky to be alive and feel great but my future is very foggy to me I was going to get married and I planed on having kids, but now I feel I’ll make my wife a widow soon and I won’t be there for my kids. I don’t know what to expect.

Brain thanks for this website good bless you.


Raul Rodriguez


Joseph Wos-61


Bill Hancy-65


  1. Gina

    Hi Raul,

    How are you now? I was reading through your story; and my boyfriend was at that age in 08′ .. I hope you’re ok.


  2. Raul Rodriguez

    Hi Gina,

    I’m still alive, just had a CT scan my aorta is 3 two 4 inches dilated, in places, sounds bad but haven’t had any major changes in the last two years. My major problem is that since I got sick I lost my Job followed by my Insurance, than what little saving I had left my house and everything else. Its tuff going through this without insurance. I cant really get a full time job anymore that offers benefits and never in a million years can I get trough underwriting.

    Good news is that I spent 10 days in jail for unpaid child support, and I got very good medical treatment there. Sorry for the soppy story, I’m glad to be alive though and I’m hoping to get approved for social security. So I can get my dignity back and maybe open up a little business. I’m down but not out.

  3. jane

    Hi, Raul!! I hope you ok!! I have almost similar story. But after my dissection, a has 2 aneurysm. Is began from 3cm and grow up to 5.5(6months). Now i done 2 very diffical surgery…., after 2 i dont know how i am arrive. But now i am ok.. Is very hard. I hope you will be OK!!!!! I cant work, the pain is daily, already 5 years, i have husband and 2 kids. Jane

  4. Raul Rodriguez

    I have an aneurism I think 5 centimeters too. Sometimes the pain is terrible, but since my aorta is dilated in several parts almost everywhere I think its not operable. I have two little girls too. I have a Social Security hearing June 15 so I’m looking forward to that. With money hopefully I can get this thing checked again and get surgery.

  5. jane

    You will be fine!!! You need to do surgery. My aorta also was dilated in abdominal and thoraic parts, i have done already 2, 2006 and 2009, and now every year CT. Is very, very hurd, BUT YOU WILL BE GOOD!!! You know.. after 2 surgery i have many complications, i was 2 months in ICU. I will pray for you, Good luck.!!

  6. Natalie


    This same thing happened to my husband last month. He is only 33 years old and very active in sports but has smoked for 13 years and ate poorly. He was in the middle of coaching our daughter’s softball game when he had a sharp stabbing pain and felt like he couldn’t breath. They called 911 and rushed him to the hopsiptal. His BP was at 202/120. after about 3 hours and 2 EKG’s they did a CT Scan and found the Arotic Dissection. He was then sent to another hospital. The cardiologist says it’s a type B and they are treating it with Medication. He is currently on 5 BP meds, a baby aspirin, cholesteral med, and 2 meds for muscles. As of right now it starts from the top of his chest to almost his right leg. It’s 2 cm wide. From my understanding they will not be doing any surgery unless it continues to widen and gets upto 5 cm wide. Does that sound right? should I look into a second opinion?

  7. jane

    is right, the surgery only if in chest 5.5 and abdominal 5 cm, i did CT every 3 months an first year. but any way you need second opinion, and maybe more, i get 3. And also you need to look for best doctor, because this kind of surgery very, very diffical. If you need a doctor tell me. And about smoking, i never smoke and ate good, and is hapend to me, so you never know what gonna hapend to you

  8. Raul lRodriguez

    Hi, Gina 2 more years and I’m still alive, feeling ok havent had a CT in a year looking forward to one soon.

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