Karen Berry-Frantz-42

Name: Karen Berry-Frantz
Age at time of Dissection: 42
Type of Dissection: Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 21 March 2001
Tell Us Your Story:

Ihad been diagnosed with the widow maker in Sept, 2000 and had angioplasty to correct this. Six months later I had sensations in my chest, not pain, which were similar to the original sensations and underwent a second cardiac cath during which the vessel dissected, leading to emergency open heart. During the subsequent hospital stay the cardiologist implied the “fix”, so to speak, may last 10 yrs on avg. Needless to say, the 10 yrs have passed, I’m approaching 11, but I have ever increasing anxiety. I’m afraid to do anything strenuous, or cough too hard or sneeze too many times, thanks to my allergies. Sounds silly, I know, but you would understand, having gone through this yourselves.

Just looking for peace of mind and a certainty that no one can provide. I do my best not to dwell, after all, its out of my hands. Have become a moderate exerciser, these days, as I feel more easily fatigued and out of breath. I’m only 53 and I’m scared. It’s always there in the shadows.

I’m tested annually. I work in radiology and I’m sick of the nuclear injections for the stress tests, having already had years of job related radiation exposure. Every year they do the stress test or stress echo and then they say it’s abnormal and I have to do the nuclear stress test. Then I go for the follow up visit to hear “every things as normal as it can be”. Really?? What does that mean. If things were repaired, why have my EKG’s been abnormal since the repair? Why are they not normal again. Of course, I never ask the doctor that, because I probably don’t want to know. I’m just happy to hear them say “normal.”

Just want to know that if I ride my bike up that hill, my vessel won’t dissect again. They joy of exercise hs been replaced by fear.

Please, somebody, tell me how silly that is. God love my husband, he means well and always says he understands how I would be nervous and why I have cut back on the exercise, but that is not what I want to do. Sort of a “catch 22” in my mind!

Contact Karen

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Jim Sanquedolce-51


Orthopedic surgeon Dr. William Farrell has surgery


  1. Lisa L.

    Hi Karen.

    You are not silly or crazy at all. Living with this tends to make you feel “scared”. We just have to work on not letting the fear rule our lives so we don’t live the 2nd chance on life we were given.

    Hang in there. When I feel “sorry for myself” or start thinking crazy things, I call my brother. He just reminds me that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.


  2. Bruce G.

    I agree with Lisa L. “None Of Us Are Guaranteed Tomorrow’s” I used to go to bed scared every night wondering, will I be here tomorrow. You see both my Brain Aneurysum and Decending Aorta Dissection occurred in the middle of the night within 2 years apart, with my Ascending weak and ready to rupture too. I now make the most of each and every day doing the best to look after myself.

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