Name: C Flach
Age at time of Dissection: 49
Type of Dissection: Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 22 March 2010
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I have Marfan’s and have been watching my aortic root for 20 years, with no change in the size of my root. (My Uncle died of an abdominal aortic dissection, but on my father’s side of the family, we have only had issues with the ascending aorta.) I just moved to Washington State (from the NY City area), and got a full MRI of the aorta as a basis for my new Cardiologist at UW. Everything looked the same as it has for 20 years.

I was walking 3-4 miles 4-5 times a week, up and down medium hills, and had just arrived at the trail for my walk on 3/22/2010. Just before getting out of the car, I felt extreme pain in my kidney area of my back. Having heard from my younger brother about his kidney stones, I immediately thought I was passing a stone. I told my walking partner that we should maybe go to a “doc in a box” (an emergency care facility), so he got back in the car to take me. Immediately an excruciating pain ran up my back to between my shoulder blades, and suddenly I was having trouble breathing. Knowing that I have Marfans, and that if I had a dissection (I always thought I would ONLY have an ascending dissection), I would need to get to a hospital within minutes if I was to survive, I told my walking partner to immediately go to the hospital because I believe I was having a dissection. Luckily, we were only 3-4 minutes from a hospital, so we made it quickly. In the emergency room I kept telling
them that I had Marfans and that I was dissecting. They were patient with me, but also a little irritated at my insistence. After taking my vitals, they finally did a CAT scan and noticed the dissection, but to my surprise, it was descending. This particular hospital was not equipped to handle this type of emergency, so I was transported to a Tacoma hospital.

I was in intensive care, and the Doctor at this facility was addressing my issues and trying to stabilize me. Blood pressure was very erratic, and both my husband and I kept asking the doctor if they were in contact with my Marfan Cardiologist at UW. At one point the doctor stated that I would need surgery immediately, and again, we questioned if he was in contact with my Cardiologist. He did state that he had performed this surgery hundreds of times, however, he had never operated on a patient with Marfans. He swallowed his ego (great man and I admire him for this), and stated I would probably be better served at a Hospital in Seattle. Again (after a week in the hospital in Tacoma), I was transferred to a hospital in Seattle. They immediately addressed the issue with medication, and I stabilized after another week in a half. All together, I was in intensive care for 3 weeks. Due to medications, I was not in any pain during this time.

Over the next 5 months, I regained my strength, and even was able to start walking again. I was back to my level of fitness, and feeling great. On my follow-up checkup at 6 months, I was told that where my Aorta had dissected I had a major aneurysm, and needed surgery as soon as possible to repair it.

On December 8, 2010, I had thoracic aorta replacement (approx. 8 inches), and am thrilled to say I’m doing well. Re cooperation took about 3 months, and 6 months later, I’m back to exercising as I was prior to the dissection. I’m looking forward to my 9 month checkup to see my progress and to verify the status of my aorta – now both descending and ascending.

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