Name: Tshombe Hamilton
Age at time of Dissection: 41
Type of Dissection: Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 8 May 2011
Tell Us Your Story:
My name is Tshombe Hamilton and I am an aortic dissection survivor. Here is my story:
When John Ritter died of heart an aortic dissection in 2003. His death sparked something inside of me. I don’t know what it was but it was something visceral.
On May 8th 2011, Mother’s Day, I had driven from Goldsboro NC back up to Ashburn VA where I was living. I had been living in Ashburn for the last two years. I had gotten a job promotion, and I left my family back home in NC. Every week I was coming home to see my daughters at the time ages 14,12 and 7. The drive from NC to Ashburn 5 hours one way so 10 hours round trip I would leave early on a Friday and make it home by 11 or 12 with the DC/VA traffic.
This time I had been done to visit my mother for Mother’s Day. I had had returned and was sitting in the chair eating Raisin Bran when a pain shot down the left side of my neck and went int my chest. I thought right then I was having a heart attack so I went to the kitchen and chewed up two aspirin. I got to my car and drove myself to the hospital. When I got to the ER, I realized that I had forgot my wallet, so I drove back to my apartment and picked it up. I went back to the ER and told the nurse I think I was having a heart attack. They checked my and the Dr said the test that they ran showed no evidence of an attack so they kept me overnight for observation.
The next morning the cardiologist can by and said that they did not see anything except a murmur but it was nothing to worry about. He signed my discharge papers and as I was leaving I remember asking him, “You sure I don’t have what killed John Ritter from “Threes Company ?” He said no. This was Monday May 9th.
The next day I woke up to some of the most excruciating stomach pains. I figured on top of everything, I was now getting an ulcer. I went to CVS and got antacid hoping that would ease the pain but it did not, I went to bed hoping it would go away. That was Tuesday May 10th.
Wednesday May 11th. I woke up with my stomach still hurting. I went to work but then had to go to the Dr. becacuse my pain was so bad.
So I go to the Dr. and she had an intern with her. She tells me to come back in a week?!?!?!? I tell her that if I have to come back she needs to give me some pain medication because my stomach hurts so bad.
I guess that triggered something within her because she sent me over to have a contrast test done. I hate needles because I have little veins. they did the contrast test and sent me home.
Later the Dr called me saying I needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible. They had found a tear in my aorta. She asked if I needed an ambulance and I said no, I could do it.
I got to the hospital and they informed me that I needed to have another contrast test to locate where the tear was. They informed me that the body cannot take two contrasts in one day and that my kidneys would probably shut down and I would be on dialysis for the rest of my life.
They did the test and called in Life Flight. They airlifted me to Inova Fairfax where Dr. Lee operated on me for twelve hours. They also gave me a bypass. This was Wednesday into Thursday.
The weirdest thing about being under is there is no sense of time. I came too almost 2 days later. They had repaired a 6 centimeter tear in my aorta. It had descended down to my kidneys which was why I was having the pain in my stomach.
When the cardiologist came by he was speechless. Not only I correctly called what it was, I had survived two days. He told me normally when that happens, you only have hours.
Luckily my kidneys survived the contrast. I am now back in North Carolina with my family. I hope that this helps someone. Thank you.