Daniel Watson-29

Name: Daniel Watson
Age at time of Dissection: 29
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 26 November 2005
Tell Us Your Story:

On January 20, 2005, I was at home when I stood up and felt a pop in my chest. I thought it was weird so I sat down and stood up again. This time when I stood up, the pain was more intense and it was followed by an intense pain shooting down my back and up my neck, locking my jaw, and making my vision in my left eye go white. I had no history of any medical problems at all but feeling this, I knew something was wrong, big time wrong. I had a gut feeling that I needed to get help fast. I knew I was in no shape to drive so I walked to my parents house which is several hundred yards behind ours. When they saw me, they immediately drove me to the hospital.


Upon arriving at the hospital, I was taken back immediately. Tests were done and x-rays were taken but the doctor I was seeing was convinced I was just stressed and wanted to send me home. I was also later told they thought I may have been there looking looking for dope. Fortunately they gave my Dilaudid for the pain and I soon after began to vomit. That ruled out the chances of me being a dope fiend. After the blood tests came back he then noticed I was bleeding but he was unsure of where. The x-rays showed nothing and the doctor didn’t want to do a ct scan because he thought it was unnecessary. After the nurse pushed the issue, they finally ordered a scan. She told me she thought something was wrong by me describing the back pain and the vision issues. The scan was done and when the doctor returned with the results, he looked like he saw a ghost. All he said was that I was bleeding in my Aorta and I needed surgery. We asked when we would need to schedule the s
surgery, he said there was a team on the way to get me, don’t move at all, and they would be giving me meds to keep my bp as low as possible. We asked about a helicopter and he replied they didn’t have time to wait for one. He said that was all he could tell up and the team at the next hospital would tell us more. He than closed the curtain and walked out. I heard him on the phone talking to the surgeon at Union Memorial and he said,”We have him stable, if he makes it to you, you have to operate immediately.” The ambulance soon arrived and I was on my way. My wife who was 5 months pregnant at the time had to follow.

Upon arriving at Union Memorial, I was greeted by my surgeon, Dr. Dibos who said I would be taken back to surgery then. Still unaware of the severity of my situation, I said I had family on the way and I would like to wait for them. He said I had no time and had to go now. As they began to wheel me in, my wife and parents arrived. He gave me a minute with them while he explained the situation. He said I had an 8.4cm dissecting aortic aneurysm with a 1.3″ tear in the inner wall of my aorta. He said it may have been caused by a leaking bicuspid aortic valve that had gone undetected until now. He began to go into a description of the surgery and at this point I was no good. I said goodbye to my wife, unborn daughter, and parents, not knowing if I would ever see them again. By this time the pain meds had fully worn off and I was in terrible pain from the blood building up in my lower back between the walls of my aorta. All I wanted was to get into the OR and be put under so the pain would go away. From this point, all I remember was entering the OR and someone saying they were going to give me something to make me feel better about being there and I was out. My next memory was several days later.

I was given a St Jude Aortic valve with several inches of synthetic aorta. I was told that due to the size of my aneurysm, and its close proximity to the bicuspid valve, a natural tissue valve was not an issue since the valve was stretched to badly.

Since the surgery My life has completely changed. I now have 2 children, ages 2 and 5. My wife definitely keeps my going. After the feelings of surviving a situation like this wore off, I have fought depression off and on for the past 6 years. I wish I could say it has been easy but it hasn’t. I would take the physical pains of recovery over the mental struggles anytime. Being 29 and having had no prior symptoms or illness, I felt like I went to sleep and woke up and was told I can never do any of the things in life I love doing. Almost all of this is due to the Coumadin. I feel that dealing with the depression that some people face after going through something like this is just as important as the physical recovery. Not everyday is a bad day but when it hits, it hits hard. Now I definitely appreciate my family and friends more and it gave me a entirely new outlook on life. Priories have definitely changed. I now feel now more than ever that life is one big experience and you only get one shot, or maybe two if you are lucky. I intend to have an awesome experience while I am here and not put off fun times for later in life because nobody is guaranteed that time. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Thanks,

Dan

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2 Comments


  1. Dear Daniel~
    I, too have an aortic dissection but not as severe as yours. My dissection occurred on November 29, 2010. I haven’t had surgery yet and the doctors are hoping I won’t. I still have shoulder and back pain and I’m taking vicodin to relieve it. My depression is comes and goes. I don’t have the energy that I used to have. I do what I can and rely on family and friends to help me. I am very blessed to have a strong support system. I hope you do too.
    My heart goes out to you because you’re so young and have a young family. I’m 67 and I’ve lived a good life. I hope to be around for a few more years. I will keep you and your family in my prayers and hope you continue to have awesome experiences. Thank you for your story. God bless you and yours.


  2. Hi Dan, I suffered an ascending acute aortic dissection in 2007, i was only 25. A repair and mechanical heart valve later i feel like i’ve aged 50 years over night. Upto early this year i’ve been so scared of doing anything and always felt like i was waiting for something….death maybe? I was unsure. But like you my family are the ones that got me through. I hope you are still well and to know i’m not alone is a great relief, your story is inspiring and re-assuring and i wish you all the best in the future.

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