Name: Ray Hendrix
Age at time of Dissection: 44
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 23 January 2011
Tell Us Your Story:

It was Jan. 23rd 2011 when my life changed so tragically. I was a 44 year old male with diag. of uncontrolled hypertension since I was 20, diabetes when I was 42 years old, I was born with only 1 kidney, smoked since the age of 13, and a drug addict for many years. To say the least I did not take care of myself and really did not think anything about my health. If only I could do over. My wife is typing this for me. I suffered complications after the dissection that prevents me from doing alot of things. I had been clean for 5 years that time when I suffered the dissection.

It was about 3-4 weeks before the actual event that sent me to the hosp. where I just was not feeling good. My blood pressure finally got half way controlled with a new Dr. and Cardiologist. It was nothing for my B/P to be 180/120 and me have no symptoms what so ever. Over the years I did have some hosp. stays and E.R visits for severe hypertension and chest pain but the Dr.s never seem ed to be too worried about it. I was not good at taking my meds. like they were prescribed either. Anyway I noticed a knot on the front of my shin that hurt and it got a little red around it plus I had pitting edema in my ankles that I had not had either so my wife thought maybe it was a blood clot possibly but I needed to get it checked out.

I went to my cardiologist and he sent me to get a doppler on it and that was fine so then we was going to set up an appt. to have a CT scan done from my lower back to my ankle. Well 2 weeks went by and I had not heard from them so my wife calls and there was a miscommunication along the way and they were going to set up the appt. for the CT scan now. Well I did not make it to the appt. On the evening of Jan. 22nd 2011 I was having a normal day. I was standing in the living room and my wife was cooking supper when out of the blue I started having severe chest and back pain.

I knew that I had never had any thing like this before and I yelled at my wife to get me to the E.R now. I heard my husband yell but I thought he was playing around like he always did so I finished what ever I was doing and I went into the living room to find him standing up with his shirt off and him holding his chest stating take me to the E.R. What made me realize that this was serious is him asking to go to the E.R. He had been clean for 5 years and he always refused to go to the E.R because he knew that they would shoot him up with Morphine first thing and he did not want that so him asking to go was serious.

Made it to the E.R and they got me right in. My B/P was out of the roof and pain was almost unbearable. Of course the first thing they wanted to do was give me morphine and I told them I was a recovering addict and could you not try NTG tabs first. I did not want any narcotics!!!! Well they gave me some, drew blood and done EKG and all the normal stuff. In the mean time I was getting no relieve and my B/P was 210/130. My wife told me I was going to have to let them give me Morphine and so I did. My wife which is a nurse told the E.R Dr. about the place on my shin and how they were going to do a CT scan but never did. She did not know if there was a connection or not but thought they needed to know. I guess we were in there for 5-6 hours having every test, X-Ray and yes a CT scan done when the doctor came in and stated that I was going to be air lifted to another hosp. to have heart surgery due to an Aortic Dissection. That is all I really remember due to the fact they pumped me full of Morphine, Dilaudid and Lorazepam. I do remember telling them they better knock me out before I got on the helicopter.

The Drs. and nurses were telling the family to say what ever they needed to say to me for this was a very serious surgery with poor odds. Got to the hosp. at 2am and they decided to wait til 7am in the morning to do surgery where the surgeon would be fresh and thought I was stable enough to wait. Dr. did not tell us of any complications from this surgery if he did make it. He just said it was a 50/50 chance. Really stressed the fact that he might not make it. He made it.

They made him a new aortic arch. He had both the ascending and descending tear. Surgery was 6.5 hours. Of course he was on the respirator, Subclavian I.V, chest tubes and foley cath. They took him off the respirator the next morning before we got there and they attempted to give him some meds. and he aspirated. They had to suction him and when they did they must of hit some small blood vessels in his throat because the blood was bad they said and that is one thing Ray does remember. Needless to say they had to place him back on the respirator for about another 4-5 days. He was able to communicate by winking at me or moving his hands when they would decrease his sedation med.

They were very worried about his kidney due to all the antibiotics they had to give him but that managed to do well. He was weak but that was all we could really tell when he was moved out of CCU and placed on the floor. When he got to the floor the next day we noticed that his balance was bad when he sat up or anything but was told and thought that was normal. He could not open his jaw all the way.His speech was a completely different tone and everything but was told that was due to the suctioning and respirator being in for as long as it was. Then we noticed one pupil was bigger than the other and he was not able to follow anything with them. Also noticed that he was weak in the left arm. They called in a neurologist. She was in there for approx 10-15 minutes and gave him the diag. of Progressive Supra-nuclear palsy.

He was able to see and identify every object that was given to him as long as the objects was placed where the eyes were focused at. PSP as they call it is another devastating diag. and Dudley Moore died from it. I refused to accept that diag. due to the fact that he was was improving. Well no Dr. nor nurse could tell me what happened just that I should be thankful that he was still alive. I cannot count the many times I was told that when I would want them to give me some insight on what happened. Also they had to place a feeding tube in him because he failed his swallow study and everything he swallowed went to his lungs. Now it is time for him to go to rehab. facility. He passed his swallow study there but still could not eat enough to sustain his weight due to his jaw. They got him to where he only needed stand by assist for walking now and he was dressing himself and everything else. His eyes still no change. They would be looking up sometimes then down sometimes but only because of the way he moved his head. His memory was good both short term and long term but his personality sure had hanged.

He is funnier and he hugs alot more. It is like all walls were removed. A year and 3 months after the dissection I must stay with my parents during the day while my wife works a 40 hour job. My balance is worse. I cannot walk with out some body giving me moderate assist. I have taken several falls and alot of them caused by me due to me just jumping up with out help. My impulse control is very poor. I can dress and bathe myself but somebody must be right there. I have had alot of Home Health therapy sessions and out pt. therapy but insurance will only pay for so much and then they cut it off. My emotions have been good considering but I did and I still do have those days where all I do is cry and wished I had died. I have thought of suicide several times. I believe in God very much so and depend and lean on him alot because he is not finished with me due to the fact I am still here. My faith is tested daily but I am believing that I will recover even if it is thru death.

Gods plan is better than mine and he will bring me thru this his way. My eyes I am moving them slighty on my own every once in a blue moon but that is progress. Speech is still hard to understand at times and my jaw has gotten some better but I still do not eat enough to sustain my weight so I must get tube feed. My CT scans and MRI’s showed that I never had a stroke so what happened I do not know. My lower dissection is good and my upper is doing good so far. I thank God every day that I am here a little while longer with my wife and Son. If any one has had or have heard of the complications I have had please let me know. I am a survivor and I want to spread the word around about Aortic Dissections.