Name: bill douglas
Age at time of Dissection: 62
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 23 March 2009
Tell Us Your Story:

Its’ been nearly two years since I had my ascending aortic dissection while at work driving a large dump truck. I was about 20 miles from my base in Big Bend WI, when I felt what seemed to be a 6×6 crashing into my into my chest. There was no warning, no symptoms, although I’m sure my b.p. was elevated. Fortunatly, I was going to back up so I wasn’t moving and on the shoulder of a quiet country road and had time to fully stop and asses my situation. I had no strength in my arms or legs, and the crushing sensation was still there but easing up a bit. Determined to pick up my load, I backed up and got into position to load my truck. I got out, struggled to do what I had to do and realized I had no strength to climb back into the cab. What’s worse is that my phone was up on the dashboard, out of reach — I was alone, out in the country.

I sat on the truck step for awhile to regain enough muscle to pull myself back inside, maybe 5-10 minutes, the pain was going away and I finally did get back inside and foolishly decided to get back to my shop. I had the shakes and chills and sweats, but thought it was a reoccurance of pneumonia that I’d had before. I have no memory of that trip until I climbed into my pickup for the 11 mile trip home. All I wanted to do was get to Waukesha change clothes and get to the e.r.. I almost made it. I collapsed at a stop light, rolled through an intersection, crossed lanes and stopped against a phone pole.

I was revived in surgery and at that time I remember the surgeon yelling HURRY! HURRY! HURRY! That was my last memory except for the hospitolists bringing me back for the second time, one day later. I have no idea how long I was sleeping. The operation lasted six hours, three inches of aorta was replaced with tissue from my right thigh, the hospitol stay was two days short of a month, I lost twenty pounds that won’t come back as well as strength and endurance that has not returned no matter what I do. I have a reasonable diet, take vitamins, b.p. and cholesterol meds; my readings are all good and the docs are pleased with those numbers. I’m not happy with the fact that after two years I can’t keep up as well as I used to, but I’ll never quit trying.

I went back to work towards the middle of May and on June 26, I had a mild stroke that affected my legs. After therapy and continuing exercise I got back to work mid-August. Currently, I’m having some issues with my iliac artery which feeds my legs — I’ve had several episodes where varying difficulty walking, breathing and one time, talking. It scared me and got me back to the cardiologist and alot of testing that showed nothing out of order, and then a heart monitor for a month with the same results. I’ve had no issues since January, but keenly aware of what my body is telling me.

I am truly blessed to be alive and thank God every day for my miracle and for the talents and compassion of the folks who diagnosed and treated me. I’ll never forget my first trip in a wheel chair down the halls of the i.c.u. and the nurses applauding and calling me a miracle man. And I truly am.

I would love to share my experience with others who have endured what I have, please drop a note..

Contact Bill

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