Kirk Billingsley-49

Name: Kirk Billingsley
Age at time of Dissection: 49
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 29 November 2009
Tell Us Your Story:

Hello my name is Kirk Billingsley and my aortic dissection occurred in my sleep. I was to travel to California for business the following morning and I went to bed early after feeling a strange pain in my neck. I do not remember anything after that point. I woke my wife in the middle of the night with what she had said were gurgling sounds.

Paramedics were called and I had already released my bowels and was being resuscitated. I was taken to a local hospitals ER that was not a trauma 1 site and was immediately flown by copter to the nearest trauma 1 hospital, the largest in the state. I was very lucky that the ER docs at my local hospital diagnosed my illness correctly and early on. I had flat lined when I hit the table just after landing where a team of surgeons began surgery. My tear was repaired, then I was opened again due to massive blood clotting and additional tearing. Somehow in IR I developed compartment syndrome in my right leg and it was a few days later that I had my leg amputated above the knee.

I remember none of this up to that point. I was in the hospital for 30 days. As you can imagine, this was quite a hard time for my family. My children both in middle and high school had to work through this ordeal as of course my wife did as well. I have always felt a certain amount of guilt having putting them through this. I learned to work with a prosthesis very well to the K4 level and even relearned to snow ski on two skis. I continued on as a regional v.p of sales for a few years but the traveling and pain in my residual leg was too great and took another position working at home with the same company.

I have since had my aortic valve replaced and after my last CAT I’ve been told it is failing and I have a 4.8cm aneurysm not too far from my repaired area. I see a Cardio doc at a children hospital that also studies and treats adult connective tissue disorders.

Marfans was ruled out and I have had genetic testing. Today I am more concerned about my children and their health. They have all been tested and treated by my cardio doc. They undergo heart scans yearly. So far nothing as been an indicator that there is anything wrong with them but they do have some side effects that have us deeply concerned. Right now I feel as though I am just waiting to die and I was a bit motivated by the ref in today’s Super Bowl that also had an aorta dissect So that’s my story. Thanks


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  1. Kirk
    I know the feeling of waiting to die. But my decending Arotic was 11 years ago this March. And I’m still here It was from the Arotic arch to my bifaracation. About 22 inches long. I was lucky to have never had surgery. I understand they now do stints now. I have many other health issues but I’m 76 and have lived a full life. I hope you are on some MEDS for depression. I also worry about my two kids now both in their late 40s it hard to do but you and I must live in the moment I spent a long time waiting to die. I try hard not to let my health dominate my life but it is hard. I knew when I started this I would not have anything profound to say. But maybe this. Had I known I was going to live another 11 years I would not have waisted so much time waiting to die. I think I’m better now about that but still I waisted a lot of time. Live in the moment. As much as you can. I go back to MD Anderson. I have two different cancers. One the lymphoma was discovered 11 years ago with the scans on the Disection. I truly wish you a long life. But let’s noth try to live in the moment. Good luck

  2. Kirk, thank you for your story. You’ve really been through it and you sound quite low. If you would like to talk to me (no charge), I am a fellow sufferer ( and a trained counselor.
    I understand the issues and fears as I have children too.
    Best wishes,

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