Name: Peter Weston
Age at time of Dissection: 55
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 23 September 2011
Tell Us Your Story:
I was shopping at a local department store. I had called my wife while I was there and told her I felt poorly. My plan was to finish the errand, go home and take a nap. While heading to the front checkout i experienced a sudden sharp pain up the left side of my neck.
I can paraphrase my medical history by saying I had a certain laissez-faire attitude. I had been diagnosed with extremely high blood pressure but when my prescription plan maxed out I stopped taking the medications- for almost a year.
Now as I walked to the front of the store to “rest in my car” I decided to call 911, the pain made it difficult to see and walk straight so I chose to interrupt the people at the service desk and asked for them to call in case I blacked out. I laid on the floor and waited. A man approached and introduced himself as a certified CPR volunteer. He asked to help and called my wife and started a dialogue with the ambulance staff who, as luck would have it, were in the parking lot at that moment preparing to purchase their lunch at the store’s sub shop. The store was very close to the nearest hospital and we were there quickly.
My wife had called my sons fiancee, who worked in the hospitals Operating Room for 2 Cardiac Surgeons, and she met us in the Emergency Room. This was another of my many blessing that day. She shepherded me through the testing and, after a CT scan was taken, the Cardiac Surgeon informed my wife and I that I needed emergency open heart surgery to save my life.
My next conscious memory is nearly 2 weeks from that day. The doctor found an ascending aortic dissection at the arch of my aorta. He told me later that he had eclipsed his best time ever and got me off the pump as quickly as he could. Still in all the procedure lasted about 5 hours. The nurses in the operating room kept my future daughter -in-law posted on the progress through text messages, this kept the family and friends that had gathered informed and calm.
From all accounts that would be the last calm moments that involved me for quite awhile. I was uncooperative and had to be sedated and restrained so I would not undo the surgeons work. I tried to pull out the tubes in my body several times. On the second day after my surgery I was talking to my son (this has been relayed to me as I don’t remember this time) and I suffered a heart attack. Thankfully I was heavily sedated and suffered no pain. I continued to be a bad patient, refusing breathing masks, swearing at the staff and other poor behavior.
My oxygen levels dropped dangerously low and I was trached so the doctors could be sure I got my proper levels back in line. I remained in the hospital for nearly a month. I missed my son’s wedding. I couldn’t talk for nearly 3 weeks and I could not sleep, chronic back pain wracked my body every day.
I came home very weak, very scared and suffering from awful sleep anxiety. My memory is spotty at times, names escape me. I had cognitive problems that did not allow me to read more than a small magazine advertisement. I also suffered trauma to my voice and can no longer sing with the range I once did( I have been a performing musician prior to surgery). I deal with issues of loneliness and sad television shows make me cry easily, my emotions are sometimes beyond my control.
But things are getting better now. Although I am not working I am working seriously at my rehabilitation. I workout 3 times a week and walk at least 4 miles a day,every day. I diet diligently and I have dropped 50 lbs from my frame, nearly 8 inches from my waist and 14 inches from my belly. I am happier now.I have joined Mended Hearts.My sleep anxiety is kept at bay by nightly reflection and meditation, you could call them evening prayers. My friends and my family all support me in my process. Yes things are getting better and I am happy to be around for each day, happy that so much went right that day instead of wrong