Name: Steve Baker
Age at time of Dissection: 53
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 23 April 2013
Tell Us Your Story:

I am a sales manager for a large automation firm so I travel throughout my territory to support the guys that work for me.I was in Jacksonville, FL to work with one of my team and had checked into my hotel for the night. After settling in to what seemed would be another routine evening, I suddenly felt a numbing, tingling sensation down my back into my right leg. I also had some tightness in my neck and knew that something was wrong.

I waited for a few minutes to see if the symptoms would subside but they did not. Having a sense of impending doom, I packed up my suitcase and headed down to the hotel lobby to call 911. The ambulance arrived shortly after and I described my symptoms to the EMS crew. I had also contacted my wife and explained the situation to her not knowing exactly what was going on. I was thinking stroke or heart attack but had no pain to speak of.

Once arriving at the hospital ER, X-rays were taken and an evaluation was made that I should go to their sister hospital for a CT scan and have their cardiac unit available if needed.After being transported to the sister facility and receiving the CT scan, it was determined that I had an ascending aortic dissection and would require emergency surgery. My wife showed up just prior to me being sent to the OR and I told her that I loved her and was sorry for making her drive up to Jacksonville. The surgery went well and I was kept in a drug induced coma for a couple of days while on the ventilator. Total time in the hospital was 10 day from surgery to release.

Then the fun started. Working my way back to a normal existence. I must mention that I am a avid cyclist and participate in both road & mountain bike events. That part of my life has been greatly impacted and has been difficult for me to come to grips with. I picked a cardiologist in my area and started the process of long term treatment for my condition. I eventually got back to working and riding but at a reduced level due to the heart medication.

After nine months, my doctor scheduled a CT scan to check up on the repair and make sure all was going well with my healing.
When to results came back, I was floored by the findings. The medical staff had determined that my dissection had continued all the way down to my illiac arteries and the false lumen was actively supplying blood flow to my left renal artery and kidney and that the false lumen was the same size as the true lumen!

I was stunned and not sure what to think. I was just coming to grips with my new reality then, WHAM! I get hit with this news. I was both scared and angry that this was happening to me again after thinking I was through with dealing with the initial dissection.

I met with a thoracic surgeon to get a prognosis and find out where I go from here. Since the situation is “chronic” at this point, no surgery will be done unless it becomes an emergency situation. He has asked that I scale back my cycling activities and do no mountain biking until after my next scan in six months. I’m still trying to come to terms with this new revelation and not sure how to mentally accept it and deal with the impact that it has had on my life.

I’m still grieving for my old life and working on setting new goals based on my “new reality”. I will continue to ride and participate in some charity events but not as vigorously a I used to. Hopefully in the next six months I’ll get the green light to return to mountain biking. My take on the whole thing is this: I can die on the couch or I can die on the bike. I think I’ll choose the latter.