Personal Stories: Colin Walker
I was pleased to find your site. I have sometimes felt a little lonely and my condition is so rare that I feel a little like a freak and wonder how and why I am alive. It is nice to meet others who understand.
I suffered a catastrophic dissection of the abdominal aorta on 25th March 2003. I was taken to our local hospital in England, which is quite big and has a good reputation. I was treated by the National Heath Service, which sometimes comes in for a lot of stick, but I received kindness, devotion and excellent treatment throughout. Although the hospital building was only 40 years old it was showing its age and has since been completely replaced.
The blood pressure test that was given on my admission showed as normal but the nurse took ten minutes to get a canola into my arm as it had turned grey and the blood flow – and possibly pressure – was clearly much reduced. I was probably suffering massive hypertension.
My blood pressure was high for several days. At one point it was over 200/140 and was virtually immeasurable. The doctors then gave me medication to control it which I still take six years later.
No one in the medical profession will even discuss it but I suspect that the simultaneous use of fairly high doses of morphine, codeine phosphate and Ibuprofen contributed to the high readings of blood pressure. The doctors first priority was to manage the vicious pain that I was presenting.
Because of the rarity of my condition it took over three weeks to diagnose. The senior vascular surgeon, who had forty years experience, simply did not believe it was possible that I could have a dissection and still be alive. I clearly self-survived.
The condition was eventually defined by a CT scan and extended over a length of around ten inches. I asked the senior vascular surgeon if he would operate and he responded that he did not do miracles.
I had stabilised by this time so I considered that it was safer to leave well alone so I have never pursued the matter further. There seem to be few possible benefits for what would probably be major and risky surgery. At seventy years of age I do not need anybody tampering with my body.
I lay on my sofa for a year and my only exercise was walking but the slightest upgrade caused me severe breathlessness. Then I decided enough was enough and I went and spent the summer ripping the roof off my factory and renewing it. Then I spent several years removing several tons of various detritus that remained from ninety years of family engineering business operations. I did have a little help with this but did most myself. After about five years I was fully fit. I am sure my surgeon would have thrown his hands up in despair if he saw the things I was doing with ladders and scaffolds and bricks and bags of cement and joist and diggers and fork-lift trucks and cranes and skips. But it made me well again.
I was seventy last week and I finally dissolved my company and sold the business building so I have actually retired at last. But yesterday I spent several hours persuading my daughter to take over the manufacturing company she runs that was once an offshoot of my business. I have taken cautions first steps to investing in commodities on the stock market. I give PowerPoint presentations to local social groups on the history of my city and am preparing one for the local Astronomical Society on the Big Bang. I have also written my autobiography and am considering publishing options.
I am vice chair of our local Civic Society and spend a lot of brain power on considering how best to guide the development of our once bomb-destroyed city. In a more immediate situation I recently defended a local nurse who was threatened with being struck off in an horrendous witch hunt that would have made Salem look tame. Appearing in court as an advocate did not phase me at all but my body responded by going hypothermic and they had to wrap me in a large red fire blanket. Needless to say proceedings were suspended and a good walk in a nearby park in London brought my system more or less back into line.
I used to work eighteen hour days as standard but now I can only manage about ten hours. When I get too tired my back starts to hurt and I must rest. But otherwise my life is fairly normal for a seventy year old and I do not dwell upon my slight affliction. Most of my friends of similar age are in worse condition than I. I had a ultrasound scan last week and learned that I have an aneurysm in the abdominal aorta about six centimetres across but that it has not changed since 2006.
The doctors insist that my condition must have been caused by severe trauma but I had never suffered with high blood pressure and certainly suffered nothing on the day of the event. My life went onward and upward for sixty years without any major traumas that I could not handle. Then in the first two years of this millennium I suffered around twelve major life crises. In retrospect it is not surprising I finished up in hospital.
I have not changed my essential lifestyle but have retired and do only what I enjoy, not that I did not enjoy most of my life anyway. But sometimes things go wrong and they did for me in 2000 2002. Now I never get into conflict situations and have learned to lay back and take things easy. But I still have a lot of things to learn and do.
I hope this helps some of you others who have suffered this strange phenomenon of dissection – being undead so to speak.
Thanks for stopping by to view our stories. Please help me keep the site going by shopping at Amazon.com-It’s very much appreciated. Brian Tinsley founder of AorticDissection.com (please book mark the link once you get to Amazon.com for future purchases!)