Name: Diego Roswell
Age at time of Dissection: 37
Type of Dissection:Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 2 March 1998
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Today is the 13th anniversary of my dissection. I am posting my story because I don’t know how much time I may have left.

March 2, 1998 I was getting ready for work when I felt a stabbing pain in my chest immediately followed by dizziness. Fortunately there was an old fashioned wall phone nearby that I grabbed on my way to the floor and dialed 911. The paramedics arrived quickly and I knew it was an aortic dissection since I had been diagnosed with the Marfan Syndrome and was in fact on an beta blocker at the time, my cardiologist had foretold of this day, and I just knew. Unfortunately I was also a recovering alcoholic/addict and had used a bit of methamphetamine the night before. I told the police and nurse about the illicit drugs so they could perhaps save my life – in retrospect, it was the biggest mistake of my life (second only to using the drugs in the first place). You see, I was a high school teacher at the time and had been given the substance by a student. I knew my career was over, but was more worried about the other kids that might OD from the drug if there was something wrong wit h it, you see I was lying there on the floor dying at the time. On arrival to the local public hospital, of course, no one knew what to do with me. I was delirious.

My wife came to the public hospital as the nurses and doctors were running around “looking for a surgeon” to “operate” on me. She got me out of there with a little help from my cardiologist and Dr. Craig Miller at Stanford Hospital – soon I was airborne on a helicopter (wow a helicopter ride and I can’t even remember it) to Stanford Hospital. It was like God had lined everything up for me. Dr. Miller ( a hard guy to get a hold of) was available to do my surgery (a very complicated one) my cardiologist was available to intervene at the public hospital – (or I would no doubt be dead).

The angels were with me that day and night as Dr. Miller needed to keep me in a comatose state and open me up several times to repair an ascending and descending aortic dissection. Aortic valve replacement surgery with arch replacement. Lots and lots of bleeding. I woke up a few times (I am told) and tore off IVs and was combative, despite having had open heart surgery. I was told that I had psychotic episodes and basically was freaking out after the surgery.

I woke up 21 days later to see a formerly 220 lb man standing in front of the mirror weighing 140 lbs and looking like a concentration camp survivor. I could walk, barely. The psychiatric staff wanted my wife to commit me to their psych ward.

I left the hospital AMA immediately.

13 years later, several hospitalizations later (for stroke, knee surgery, angiogram, colon ulcer blood infection, cerebral hemorrhage) I am still fighting the social security administration for disability benefits. I am due in court soon for the final decision.

Thank you Jesus for my life.

My advice to Marfan patients: take your beta blockers and do the suggested voluntary heart valve surgery, don’t wait for a dissection.


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