Debbie Pecoraro-52

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.


  1. Hello Debbie

    My Disection was 9 years ago at 65. I guess the one thing I like to tell people is TRY. Not to let your health dominate your life. Easy to say right. I mean try . To get thru a morning,day, dinner friends with out discussing it telling someone. It’s hard to do but the Disection is not you. You no doubt will live a long time l you will no doubt will get better. I have other major health issues so cannot advise you about when you will be back to your old self. Maybe never maybe that’s to much for us to ask. But you can for sure get back to that river walk and enjoy life. Depression you would have already experienced. I have no problem taking somthing for that. I know I sure enjoy my grands. And tho I was a very active person. Im accepting that I’m not any longer. When people ask how I’m doing I tell em I’m coming into my prime. Stay safe POsr.

  2. Hi Debbie:

    Glad to hear you are on the road to recovery. I am going on my 3 yr anniversary of my dissection.

    Time time time it takes time. I am writing because of the arm issue. You may wish to speak with your surgeon that implanted your stint. The stint may be covering the lower Clavian artery.
    This is the artery that supplies blood to the left side of your body and the back of your brain. There is a surgery that corrects this by attaching this artery to the carotidal artery. It made a huge difference for me.


  3. Hi Debbie. I just celebrated my fourth anniversary this May. I like you suffered an ascending aortic dissection. First let me congratulate you on your new lease on life. It might not sound like it but you and test of us are very fortunate to be here. Recovery can be tricky but believe me it gets better. It’s hard to predict how each one of us reacts. As all our bodies are different. Some recover so well that they eventually go right back to their previous lifestyles. I had to give up my stressful career on the advice from my doctor. So I did. Now I’m a stay at home dad. I love it. Do I miss my previous life, sometimes. But I’m here to enjoy this one.
    One piece of advice don’t rush your recovery. I did and I ended up giving myself a minor stroke. Also depression can really get you down. Watch for it and allow yourself to be treated if necessary. I am confident that in time you will be taking your walks again. Good luck and continued good health. Dan E.

  4. Thank you to Jeff and Paul for all the encouraging information. Jeff I will definitely speak to my Dr. regarding this procedure


  5. Daniel, thank you for the encouragement. I still get very depressed and I am thinking of asking my doctor for something. I hate to do it but I hate this feeling more. Best of luck to all of us we are way ahead since we are all here to talk about it. Keep strong and take it day by day. I pray for all of you and wish you all the best of health


  6. are you sure about the 18 degrees? i’ve never had open heart, but i’m thinking more like 60 degrees;

  7. Hi Doug I was not familiar with open heart either, just going by the O.R. report from my doctor. My head was literally packed in ice and my blood was put thru a machine so nothing was going thru my heart. Can’t tell you anymore than what my report says. Sorry I couldn’t help out more.


  8. Hello Debbie, You have been given a new lease on life, I suffered a Ascending Aortic in September 2012, my body temp as per medical records was take down to 17 degrees. I asked my cardiologist about this, he said it is required for the type of surgery I had received, I too had my chest opened up for a complete graph of my aortic and valve replacement. I struggled with Arm and leg issues after surgery but it will all get better. I suffered with high blood pressure for about two years before my surgery, however my doctors were trying to get it under control, I also had very stressful jobs since I was 25 years old. I smoked for 34 years, but stopped immediately once I found out what was happening to me, I don’t know that it was the underlying cause, but it did contribute. I am fully retired now and taking life easy, at first the life change was difficult and had to take an anti-depressant, but it also got better.

    Daryl Reed

  9. Debbie my name is Brad Padgett from Corpus Christi Texas. I have recently had surgery to repair my valve, root, arch, and ascending aorta. I have never spoken with anyone or met anyone with aorta issues. Are you from San Antonio Texas? This is something I have been dealing with 24/7 for 17 months, I have yet to met anyone who understands what I have gone through and am dealing with in regards to the surgeries I have had in the past year. Best regards, Brad Padgett

  10. Hi Brad,
    Thanks for the email. I understand what you mean. Unless you have gone thru what each of us have in our different ways no one can possibly understand. I personally don’t want to bother people with my problems because they just don’t understand. Nice to have someone to talk to, feel free to email me anytime to talk, it is posted above. In answer to your question I live in Connecticut. But hey dissection is the same in any state, send me your email we could probably go back and forth for hours.
    Debbie Pecoraro

  11. Debbie, I found this web site yesterday @ work. What a Blessing it has been for me! Lets Gave thanks to Brian! I needed someone who living this to talk to! Thanks Rex

  12. Any person who has a Aortic Dissection and needs someone to talk with please feel free to contact me, as per a friend of mine who has been a registered nurse for the past 25 years told me not long ago, she has only run into two people that has survived this that she knows, she recommends we talk to each other for support, here is my email, I am also on Facebook! I am coming up on my second year September 2014.

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