Phyllis Cleary-57

In December 2005 I suffered from a severe case of bronchitis. I never had a problem with bronchitis before. My primary care physician prescribed antibiotics to help clear the infection. Nothing seemed to work so Avelox was prescribed. On December 23, after taking the Avelox a couple of times I noted that I was having difficulty breathing and tightness in the chest. I decided to drive myself to the emergency room. After waiting for many hours, I was finally given a ct scan and some breathing treatments. The next day I was released with a new prescription and instructions to follow up with my primary care dr. Two days later I went to see my Dr. and she told be “oh by the way, you have an aneurysm”. It is about 4 cm in size. I was furious that the hospital I went to had not informed me of this life threatening condition.

My Dr. told me, You need to go back to your thoracic surgeon. You seen in 1998 I had a blockage (blood clots) in my aorta going into my kidneys an d legs. The aneurysm had developed where my aorta had been cleared during that operation. I went back to the surgeon who performed my 98 operation. Upon review of the ct scan, he told me that not only did I have an abdominal aneurysm I also had a thoracic aneurysm. I was sent to a specialist, Dr. Hazem Safi, who is one of 2 dr’s in Houston that specialize in this surgery. After a review of my ct scan, I was informed that I needed surgery as soon as possible. The diagnosis T/AAA repair. I had no idea what this meant.

On January 31, 2006 I underwent surgery to repair my aorta. My entire aorta thoracic to abdominal was replaced with a graft. I was in the ICU for quite some time. Whatever could go wrong did go wrong. I had a pulmonary embolism, fluid around the heart and lungs. orthostatic hypo-tension, and needed intermittent dialysis until my kidney function returned. I was in the hospital for 2 months. Finally I was released. We thought all was well, my kidneys had recovered but were not functioning to their full capacity.


My nephrologist (at the time) was working with me to help keep me from developing end stage renal disease. Each time I went back to him I would complain about severe back pain, I would complain to my cardiologist about the same and he would send me back to the emergency room where I had the surgery. After several emergency room trips and being sent home with pain meds or lidocain patches, a nurse saw a spot on my lungs and thought that I may have pneumonia. Thank god for that nurse, I was admitted to the hospital again in August 2006 and was again put under the care of Dr. Safi. I was scheduled to have exploratory surgery the following Monday (I was admitted on the previous Monday but have no real recollection of that week) when in the early morning of Saturday my graft ruptured.

I had somehow gotten an MRSA during or following my first T/AAA repair. The MRSA was inside me growing the entire time I had been released and recovering from the surgery. I don’t know the Dr’s name that stepped in and clamped everything off to save my life until Dr. Safi could arrive at the hospital but I thank him. Needless to say, I had to have the repair surgery all over again. I also lost my left kidney to the infection. Again, lots of complications, this time renal failure and a deep vein thrombosis to my left thigh. I was in the hospital for 2 months, most of it in ICU. The thoracic surgeon that cares for my fistula now, (is in Dr. Safi’s group) told me she thought she was looking at a dead person. She did not think anyone could survive what I have survived. Today I must receive dialysis 3 times a week, I am on the kidney diet, and I also take blood thinners, since I have had multiple blood clots. I receive 1.5 grams of vancomiacin with each treatment because no one is really sure if the MRSA is gone or not.

My life has changed tremendously. I went back to work after both surgeries, even though I was not ready. It was either that or lose my job, they couldn’t hold my position open any longer. So off I went back to work. In 2009 due to stress and symptoms of ESRD I went out on family medical leave once again. This time I was unable to return to work. I also contracted thyroiditis, which has left me with hypothryroidism and had been diagnosed with multiple connective tissue disorder, which is an autoimmune disorder and may very well be the reason for my problems. All of these things cause chronic fatigue, memory issues, energy issues, depression, etc. So I no longer work. I am learning to deal with my life situation. It has been difficult. Having to get dialysis 3 times a week has left me feeling trapped and dis functional, but I am working on that. I’m alive — that’s all that matters, people tell me. Sometimes, I’m not so sure, but I’m working on that too.

Contact Phyllis

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!)

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