Name: Cynthia Lin
Age at time of Dissection: 68
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 14 January 2011
Tell Us Your Story:
I’m not sure of the type of dissection I have but I’ll find out. It does go down through the entire aorta.
The afternoon of January 14, 2011 I got a sudden, tight flash sensation in my shoulders and neck. I knew instinctively that it was very bad and, driven by terror, I called EMS.
By the time EMS arrived I had lost all use of my right leg and I felt sure it must be a stroke. I was slightly encouraged by the fact that as we approached Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, MI feelings had returned to my leg but it was fools gold. By the time I got to Beaumont Hospital everything was a state of emergency.
What I actually had was an aneurysm in my aorta (which ruptured before surgery), an aortic dissection, shredding of the lining of the aorta near the heart and the value between my heart and aorta had become dislodged and dropped into my heart. To quote my surgeon, I was dying and I was taken to surgery with no promises to my husband that I would live.
My body temperature was lowered to 30 degrees in order to stop all activity. While the actual surgery in my heart took 15 minutes, my heart and body were clinically dead for over an hour. The surgery and repair was performed, my heart restarted and another 2 to 4 hours were used to warm my body back to life.
Oxygenating my lungs became another problem. The number needed to adequately supply oxygen to my body was 500. The doctors couldn’t get the oxygen level above 80. They were considering sending me to University of Michigan Ann Arbor Hospital when the number started to rise.
I awoke in the intensive-intensive care unit, a surreal futuristic area made of all glass walls and doors with etched and sketched oval shapes that provided privacy and view. It was the most silent place I have ever experienced. A nurse never left my side. I had no idea what happened but I saw the beautiful faces of my children (who live in Boston and Dallas) and my husband.
As my vascular surgeon later told me, ‘I did the surgery but God saved your life’. I am overwhelmed at the implication. I have never experienced His presence as deeply as I have since the 14th. I don’t know where this will lead, what it means, but when I review the facts and realize I was in a state of death I am humbled beyond words.
And as if the miracle of life wasn’t enough, I appear to have no residual issues. To the amazement of the staff, doctors and my family I left Beaumont one week after the surgery (5 days after pulling out my ventilator and anything else I could rip off which apparently isn’t all that uncommon with patients. I was sent to Evergreen Rehabilitation and released after 10 days. I never needed a wheelchair (except for transportation) or a walker.
I did need to rebuild my strength. I was very, very weak. I’ve always had excellent balance and it appears I still do. And I feel my strength growing every day.
The doctors say this was a result of hypertension and / or high blood pressure though I never had high readings but I did experience a kind of hypertension this past year.
They also say it can be inherited or run in a family. Often the first instinct is to think ‘heart attack’ and when no evidence of a heart attack is found people have gone with the real problem untreated and died. From the reading I’ve done it appears some where between 40,000 and 50,000 people die a year from an aortic dissection that goes undiagnosed. John Ritter died after being misdiagnosed and treated for a heart attack. It has also caught my attention that a key recommendation for a person having a heart attack is to have an aspirin. I couldn’t find any aspirin. I was told at the hospital during my recovery that if I had taken an aspirin it may well have escalated the chances of my death by accelerating bleeding.
I have a dissection of my aorta that travels the entire length. I will need to keep a close eye on this (I have a cat scan scheduled in three months) and according to my surgeon I may need surgery again in the future but it will be planned, managed and not part of a death crisis.
It has become my mission to make sure my grandchildren experience the power of God, the power of prayer and that they realize this as a real life access they have impacts life, the big of it and the small of it!
That’s my mission from the point of view of my family but so much is yet unexplored. I don’t yet know my larger mission. I know that the hospital that I went to had a grand opening January 28, 2011 for their new aortic aneurysm and dissection of the aorta center with a staff of 7-9 vascular surgeons. I knew nothing of this condition and most of the people I know vaguley connect it with John Ritter. I’m happy to have found this site. It’s only been a month and I get overwhelmed with emotion when I realize how close I was to death. And of course, while this is not a religious site, I’m still in the arms of God’s presence.
I thank you all. May you be blessed for your goodness.
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