Name: Timo Söderlund
Age at time of Dissection: 48
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 1 October 2012
Tell Us Your Story:
Having worked as CEO in companies in need of financial turnaround and as manager in projects concerning change management, my life has included a high level of blood pressure. Now, i can only regret that i did not visit doctors more often and that i did not put health more as an priority until i got ill.
Monday 1 October 2012, i rose from bed around 05:00 in the morning and by 05:30 i was sitting by the computer handling mails and making payments on line. As usual i had a large cup of coffee, and a fair amount of “snuff” under my upper lip. (snuff is grined tobacco that is fairly common to use in Sweden, while smoking is not so popular any more).
At 07:30 i got ready to drive to work. This day a lite bit more tense than the last weeks. After a few months of discussion i had agreed to once again take on a heavy management duty where operations on the field was more important than thinking out strategies by a desk. And this morning would be the first day in office taking responsibility of around 400 employees, 4 production units in 3 countries in Europe, and a fair amount of turnover and profit. Already in the car i felt that the tension was unusually high this morning.
At 08:00 i picked up my first cup of coffee, walked through the office landscapes, and paid the personnel department a short visit. At 08:30 i was sitting in the office of one of the groups senior executives discussing the trip he had made with his wife the previous week. During the discussion i was going over the plan for that day in my head, probably for the 10:th time since i rose this morning. I reached over the table to get hold of my cup of coffee, and doing so something broke in my chest. I got afraid, and did not know what to do – so i rose and excused my self and sid i had to go to the bathroom. Stepping out from the office i realized i was in serious problems and probably was going to die. The pain in the chest was a cutting pain, and both my kidneys and throat was hurting very much at the same time. I stumbled in through the next office door, and asked the lady sitting there to call an ambulance, and sat down on a chair.
I arrived in the local hospital with ambulance around 09:10. There the doctors in the emergency room started to look for what was wrong. It took over 6 hours of EEG and a lot of doctors scratching their heads, before a cardiologist decided to make a CT-scan and an ultrasound control of the heart. After that all changed. All personnel become very worried and i was told that my condition was critical, and i was sent with ambulance to the nearest university hospital 60 kilometers away for surgery at 15:30. I had AADA (acute aortic dissection type A) and the travel in the ambulance went on very high speed with sirens on the whole trip. I had time to think through my life and also to accept that this could be the day when my life was coming to an end. But it was not. I woke from surgery the next evening. Beside fixing the type A dissection, the surgeons also had repaired my heart valves biologically. 12 days in hospital followed and then i was sent home. 2 week later i was back since
i now also had AVB (atrioventricular block) probably as an result of the main surgery, and now had a pacemaker put in.
I am now 10 and a half months past surgery, and i have recovered in a very good way. I am not working, and will probably never work again. I go 3 days a week for training i my local hospital. I eat nine different medicines on daily basis, and they make me fell good but tired. We have got a dog 7 months ago, and i go for a walk in the woods every day. In the beginning it was a few hundred meters, now it can be 4-5 kilomters each day. The pace in though low, around 3 km/hour, probably due to the medicines.
There are most probably a lot of spelling errors in this text. This and also problems with my short term memory are a few of the side effects from the surgery where a heart-lung machine was used and a temperature drop to 20 deg Celsius was part of the procedure.
What had helped me a lot is that i have been blessed with therapy in addition to medications and physical training. Having had help to learn to cope with the fear of not knowing anything about the future, and accepting that life is now on a daily basis, i had not handled without solid professional help. This has made it possible for me to go on without medication handling anxiety. Another important factor has been that with help of the hospital we have formed a group of 7 people in Sweden and Denmark on facebook, who all have suffered from AD. This has also been very comforting when we all have found out that we almost all share the same fears. And talking about it with someone who is in the same situation is really comforting.
Well this is my story. I can also say that i love life in a more direct way now. I thank God each day for both family, friends and the nature that we live in. All that before was so normal, i now do not take for granted any more. I fell blessed to be alive and thankful for all the help i have received.