Name: Debbie Pecoraro
Age at time of Dissection: 52
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 29 August 2012
Tell Us Your Story:
On August 29th, 2012 I went to work as usual and when the end of the day approached I decided to go for a walk since it was such a beautiful evening. I stopped home, changed clothes put on my sneakers and proceeded to the river walk for my nightly walk. When I arrived I met a friend who I had not seen all summer spoke with him for a few and we agreed to meet in the parking lot after my walk to catch up on things. I turned up my mp3 player and started my walk. Everything was fine for about 10 minutes when I suddenly felt a terrible pain in the front of my ears. along with hearing a pop. Since I love my music loud I thought I busted my eardrum and continued to walk. I kept getting weaker and weaker turned to return to the car as my legs moved less and less, all that kept running through my mind was I was not going to die on this river walk. I had no heart pain but started to get pain at the base of my skull and started to sweat as I got weaker.
Luckily my friend came back early to meet me and saw that something was wrong. He could see that I was having trouble walking and started running towards me until I was able to yell to him to get the car. He then picked me up and placed me in the car since I now had no strength to lift my legs.
I was rushed up the hill to the Emergency Room they immediately started to hook me up to the EKG leads and asked me when I fell. I was arguing with the nurse that I had not fallen when she told me to look at the bruise I had. When I looked down I could not believe what I was seeing. My midsection from my breastbone all the way down and around to my back was all purple. The ER doctor had an idea of what this might be and immediately ordered a cat scan. It showed I was bleeding internally and my aorta was dissecting. I was rushed by ambulance to Yale New Haven Hospital where the O.R. staff was waiting for me. Luckily Dr. Geirsson was on call.
I awoke five days later, not remembering anything. I did not even know who my son was or sister. Not until she put on her glasses did something snap and it was like I came out of a fog and knew who everyone was. Things went fast after that. The last of the tubes came out. I was walking by nighttime. Transferred from CCU to a normal room two days later. I stayed overnight one more night than went home the next day. Found out I was on a respirator for 5 days. Not a good patient while on respirator. Lucky to be alive since I had minimal time before my aorta was completely dissected. Required three chest tubes to get rid of blood and my heart was completely stopped for surgery and my body temp was dropped to 18 degrees. I still have a ways to go but have come a long way. I have trouble with my left arm probably happened during surgery but that was not important(totally understand) I now have asthma and tire easily. I have been told it gets easier. I am not so patient But I wake up every morning and take it day by day.
Please feel free to email me to just chat or discuss surgeries or ask questions. This is how we can learn from each other. I did have a history of high blood pressure for four years which I ignored plus an enormous amount of stress in my life when all this happened. Between the two I was told I was a walking time bomb. Thanks for letting me share it feels great to talk about it.