Erin Doyle-37

On October 16, 2009, I suffered an aortic dissection, ascending and descending.  I’m a 37 year old woman, in good health, and I exercise regularly.  I never imagined something like this could happen to me.  Had I not called 9-1-1 and gotten to a hospital so quickly, I would not be here today.  I had emergency open heart surgery to repair the dissection and am now well on my way to a full recovery.

The reason I want to share to my story is to encourage other women not to ignore unusual symptoms or pain because it may cost you your life.  My first symptom was feeling a burning sensation in my throat, followed by a severe pain in my lower jaw that even made my teeth hurt.  I took an Advil for the pain and thought I would be okay.

A few minutes later, I started to sweat and feel faint – and the jaw pain worsened.  After talking to my Mom and my supervisor at work, I decided I should call 9-1-1 because the symptoms were so unusual and weren’t getting any better.  All of this to say that approximately one hour passed from the very first symptom until I arrived at the emergency room.

By this time, I was getting short of breath.  The amazing doctor who saw me in the ER discovered the dissection while examining a chest x-ray, thinking I might be suffering with a pulmonary embolism.  When I heard the diagnosis, I immediately remembered John Ritter, one of my favorite actors.  I grew up watching him and enjoying his enormous talent.  I knew that this was the medical crisis that tragically took his life.  I don’t really know why, but I became very calm and knew that I would be okay.

The staff sprang into action, the surgical team came together and I was taken to the OR.  I came out nearly 7 hours later, but with my aorta and aortic valve working properly and on the mend.

I know I saved my life by seeking medical attention and being blessed with the amazing staff, my “angels” who took such good care of me.  If this could happen to me, it could happen to anyone.  I have no known family history and do not fit any of the profiles normally associated with AD.  I’m so blessed to be here today and believe my purpose now is to try to save others by sharing my story…especially women who are so less likely to be affected by AD and might ignore their symptoms or be misdiagnosed.

(After returning to my job on a part-time basis, the physical nature of the
work (standing, working with my arms raised, etc.) was more than I could continue
to do. I am now retired from my 20 year hairstyling career and awaiting a decision
on my application for Social Security Disability. On a positive note, I was elected
President of Mended Hearts, San Antonio Chapter and hope to continue outreach and
education about AD.)

Thank you and take care,

contact Erin

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