Name: Samantha Neal
Age at time of Dissection: 30
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 19 July 2012
Tell Us Your Story:

Ifirst had pain on the morning of July 19,2012 while eating breakfast. It was a sharp pain that started at the base of my throat. I was just swallowing a bite of my waffle and thought it was just bad heartburn at first but then my vision sort of went dark for a moment and my lower jaw and bottom teeth started feeling numb and tingling. I can’t say the pain was all that bad really. I only called my husband because of the near-fainting and I certainly did not want my newborn to be by himself if I were to pass out.

Well, my husband being the hero that he is, came home from work right away (took him about ten minutes) and by then the pain was more in the center of my chest. I would maybe rate it 5/10 (I’m an RN). Since it did not go away we went to the small hospital where I work and they did all the cardiac blood work which, of course, was negative. Then the Dr. ordered a CT with contrast to check for PE. The CT did not show any abnormalities. The Dr. said it was probably GERD or possibly a gall bladder attack. I felt very silly. After a GI cocktail I lied and said I felt better. I was given a script for protonix and sent home. I didn’t take a single protonix. I didn’t know what was wrong but I knew it wasn’t GERD.

I made a follow-up appointment with my famiy Dr. and saw him on July 26th. Let me tell ya that was a miserable 6 days. When I would lay down it felt like a knife was stabbing me in the chest and back so it was nearly impossible to get comfortable to sleep. I was also nursing a newborn every 2-3 hours. My poor husband had to put up with quite a bit of whining. Anyway…when I finally saw my Dr. that morning at 9:30 he decided to admit me to a larger hospital close by to get IV antibiotics and gall bladder tests. (I was also running a fever thanks to a UTI).

On day 2 in the hospital my Dr came and said he saw some fluid on my heart and ordered a consult with a cardiologist to check it out. Cardiologist ordered an echo and bingo! Mystery finally solved! They did another CT with contrast that confirmed I had a Stanford type II dissection. I was taken to ICU and told I had two choices: have the surgery repair done there which they said they had a “fair” amount of success with, or I could take a helicopter ride to Vanderbilt where they have a higher success rate and deal with this type of emergencies more. “Chopper, Please!!”

So my surgery was done at Vanderbilt on July 27th and I can’t say enough good things about the doctors and nurses there. It’s a wonderful hospital full of awesome people. I can’t figure out how to put a link to the news article but anyone who might be interested can google Samantha Neal aortic dissection and find the story. Love this site and reading all the stories!