Name: Jeff Edwards
Age at time of Dissection: 43
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 6 May 2012
Tell Us Your Story:
I‘ve always been healthy and outgoing guy. I love to play and joke around, ride motorcycles, sports cars, and fly planes. I worked for San Mateo Sheriff’s department.
But during Sept 2011 – May 2012 I had a tremendous amount of stress with internal harassments on my job, which completely stole my joy. I began having difficulty sleeping at night, had night terrors, was drinking Pepto-Bismol for stomach upset and broke down crying 3 times! This was so not like me!
Then on May 6th, while bowling with my family, I felt severe pain in my back, between my shoulder blades. I yelled, “Call 911, something is wrong”. I am a CPR instructor and I knew the heart beat in my neck felt like a gush of blood, not a normal flow! I was rushed by ambulance to the ER where I was worked up for a heart attack. My blood pressures were high, but my EKG and Cardiac enzymes were normal.
It took 7 hours and a cardiac catherization for this hospital to finally understanding that my Aorta was dissecting all the way down my body. The KEY was in a test called DDIMER (mine was 1300!). Once the Cardiac Catherization camera saw the dissecting wall of my aorta, I was rushed emergently to Stanford where I was immediately taken to a 10 hour surgery to save my life. The doctors gave me less than 50% chance of survival – because I am only 43 and in otherwise good health.
My wife, waited, cried and prayed as physicians replaced six inches of my Aortic arch. I suffered a stroke as a result of the surgery which was determined to be “embolic” in nature, but continued to hemorrhage during the next two weeks post-surgery. I stopped talking, swallowing, and being able to control my bowels. Physicians said my response to the anesthesia and subsequent ICU stay was as if I had PTSD….given my work stressors, I am certain of it. The psychiatrists ask if I had been in Afghanistan in the Military because I was fighting and acting out so horribly. I don’t remember the ICU now.
God spared my life for a purpose! I spent four weeks in ICU on a vent, and was readmitted to the hospital three times during the next 4 months. I had fevers in the weeks to follow. Doctors thought it could be fevers trying to break down the blood clots in the false lumen of my aorta, or I was possibly septic. Scary times! Then I was readmitted again on week six for dehydration as I have not had the ability to swallow without choking. The stroke has left me unable to move with any speed at all, unable to articulate my thoughts, and with decreased blood flow to one kidney now, my blood pressures are difficult to control.