William Mitchell-56

Name: William Mitchell
Email: mitcwsm@gmail.com
Age at time of Dissection: 56
Type of Dissection: Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 14 April 2012
Tell Us Your Story:
October 12, 2012

My name is William Mitchell. I am 56 years old and live in Munford, Tennessee. It is about 30 miles north of Memphis. I have been working a swing shift for the past 36 years so you probably understand that my sleep habits are not normal. I am bipolar, I take my medication and see my doctor regularly. My wife is my biggest supporter and I’m doing well.
My story begins at 3:15 a. m. on April 14, 2012 when I got up from the bed and went to the kitchen and got a glass of juice. After drinking the juice my stomach started feeling upset, I went to the bathroom because I thought I had to vomit, nothing happened. I started back to the living room when my chest felt like it was going to rip apart, I fell to the floor thinking I was having a heart attack, the pain was so intense.

I managed to make it to the bedroom and told my wife to call an ambulance and she told me that she could get me there quicker. The hospital is 10 miles down the road and the wife was flying, I myself was in major pain. When we got to the hospital I could not move my right leg, they manage to get me in a wheel chair and got me in a room. They took a chest x-ray and blood work. I vomit and the nurse freaked out because it was red, I explained that the juice I drank was red. The pain had subsided some and when the doctor came in I told him that I could not move my right leg, he said he was not worried about my leg, I was because I was to have back surgery in a couple weeks. They came and got some more blood around 6:30 a. m. At 7:00 a. m. a different doctor came in and told us that I did not have a heart attack and that I needed to lose weight and have a stress test and for us to leave, I wanted to choke him.
We got home and for the next 2 days I stayed in bed or I was holding the couch down. When my wife got home from work Monday she said she had made an appointment to see my neurosurgeon the next day Tuesday April 17, 2012. We saw the doctor, had surgery that Wednesday April 18, 2012 and I was home by 3:00 p. m. Needless to say, my appetite never got better.
After about a week or so I went to my family physician about my stomach problems, he suggested that maybe I was having a gall bladder issue and ordered some tests. On May 1, 2012 I went in at 7:00 a. m. for an ultrasound and CT scan at the same hospital that said that nothing was wrong and sent me home. The ultrasound was first and it took about an hour, the technician told me to wait, and that it was going to be twenty minutes for the CT scan.  The waiting room was full so I went to my truck to get my phone. I called my wife and noticed my physician with nurses and orderlies, all with wheel chairs at the entrance.

My doctor was motioning for me to come towards him.  As I entered the hospital my doctor told me to stand there and not to move, wheel chairs moved in from all directions, I sat down in the first one near me. The nurse took me to the CT room and parked me in a corner, I asked the nurse what was going on but all she said was that she did not have a clue. I’m thinking “my gall bladder cannot be that bad”. My family physician told me to call my wife, I did, and every time I gave the phone to him he would jump up and bark some orders, after about the fifth or sixth time he took the phone and told my wife to get to the hospital as soon as possible. The room cleared and only the technicians were left, they did the scan with dye that made me very sick, but I recovered.

I was then wheeled to a different room where my wife was waiting. My wife told me that they were going to transport me to Baptist East in Memphis; it’s one of the biggest hospitals in the area. After arriving and checking in they put me in a split room, after about an hour or so they brought an elderly man who had broken his hip and his rude manners were getting on my nerves. I became very belligerent because I had been off of my medications so I could have the testing done. My wife left the room and came back, and then a nurse came in and said that she had something  to calm me down, a shot. After about three hours I woke up in Intensive Care Unit. Later that evening my wife explained to me what was going on, she told me about the aneurysm and the dissection of the aorta. I had heard of aneurysms but did not have a clue about what they were. I then understood why my wife and daughter were crying so much and telling me that they love me.

I had a feeling that it was not a gall bladder issue. At this point the doctors said they were not going to do surgery because they could not replace the entire aorta. They said they were going to try to control my blood pressure and see what happened. They had me on an intravenous drip medication and five blood pressure medications by mouth. My blood pressure continued to rise. Finally the surgeon came in and said he was going to try a procedure where he would insert a stint at the kidney level to try to get proper blood flow to the right kidney. He said they had to try something because they were not a ble to control the blood pressure and I could not maintain the many blood pressure medications they currently had me on. On May 10, 2012 I had surgery. The surgeon placed two stents in my aorta, one at the arch of the aorta where the aneurysm happened and the other near my right kidney. May 15, 2012 I was moved to the step down unit and on May 16, 2012 I was dismissed.
After about a month or so I went for a follow up, CT scan and doctor appointment with the surgeon. The surgeon said everything looked fine and to be back in six months. Two days later the doctor’s office called and said that I had to come in as soon as possible. I’m thinking, “What is going on?” My wife and I were off to the doctor the next day. Once there the surgeon explained that the aorta was now dissecting back towards my heart and we had to watch it closely. So, two months later we were back for another CT scan and appointment with the surgeon. This time the doctor said that the tear is stabilized, but the dissection near my kidney is not healing. He said that at some point it is going to need to be repaired.  He said to continue to watch the blood pressure, if it goes up and stays up to get to the nearest emergency room and make sure they called him. He said there is nothing I can do to make it better and nothing I can do to make it worse so “go live your life”, “go back to work”.
Now, I have returned to work. I have pain either in my chest or in my shoulder blades all the time. I have a lot of pain in my right arm and can no longer sleep on my right side due the pain. Quite often I have major indigestion with lots of gas. It is everything I can do to go to work and come home. I have no energy for anything extra.


Atypical Presentation of Ascending Aortic Dissection


Thomas Grabowski-44


  1. Lisa l

    Wow. I feel your pain. Hang in there. Get some pain relief do you can live your life. It’s a very scarey thing and I am still scared. I have a descending aortic dissection, no surgery just BP meds. I stopped being scared everyday but I am so aware of my body now. Hang in there. Today marks 9 months since my dissection. Things do get better! Much love and support!

    Lisa L
    My story is in here.

  2. robyn

    Hi William-
    My husband had an aortic arch and ascending aortic rupture and repair/replacement last year at 35 years old. Have you discussed having surgery so you don’t have to live in fear?

  3. William Mitchell

    Thanks for the kind comments, I do think about it every day and I do get depressed a lot. My e-mail is wrong at the top it’ s mitchwsm@gmail.com my life has changed so much and I don’t know where to begin. Again I thank Ed and everybody else for their support.

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