Name: Matthew Arnold
Age at time of Dissection: 37
Type of Dissection: Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 3 April 2015
Tell Us Your Story:

I will start by saying that I was a previously very healthy person with my only issue being slight hypertension. I first felt the dissection while getting into my car to go to work. It felt like every muscle in my back locked up at the same time. After sitting for a few minutes I decided I could deal with it and proceeded to drive to work. By the time I got there the pain was so intense that I immediately told my manager that I would not be able to work. I had to call my wife to pick me up as I no longer felt like I could drive.

When she picked my up she wanted to take me directly to the ER but I refused and just went home. I tied to go for a walk to see if that would help but that caused me to start to vomit from the pain. At that point I agreed to go to the ER to see what was wrong. The doctor at the emergency room seemed to recognize the symptoms right away and had me in a CT scan within a half hour. I had never heard of aortic dissection but understood how serious it is quickly when they had me in an ambulance rushing me to another hospital where there were specialists that were better suited to deal with it.

I spent 12 days in the Fairview University Minneapolis ICU while they struggled to control my blood pressure which had gone out of control with the dissection. From Saturday afternoon until the following Tuesday I was completely out of it. They called it ICU delirium due to the large amount of medication I was on. I do not remember much from those 9 days but it was a very tough time for my family. After the 12 days in the ICU I had 4 more days in the hospital before I was allowed to go home.

At present the doctors are looking at the options for stent graft surgery but my dissection is complicated and would require a bypass of the left sub-clavian artery. They want to see how I recover with medical treatment at the moment. I have been out of the hospital for 2 and a half weeks at the moment and still struggling with fatigue all of the time. At my last appointment they discovered that I only have 85% blood flow to my right leg which makes it difficult to walk very far due to muscle fatigue. I am hoping surgery will not be needed but also continuing to assess which treatment option will allow me to live a better quality of life.