Diane Harroff-54

Name: Diane Harroff
Email: wernerrn@yahoo.com
Age at time of Dissection: 54
Type of Dissection: Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 23 April 2013
Tell Us Your Story:

I was an ICU RN for more than 25 years. At work in April 2013, I became acutely dizzy, short of breath, and almost passed out. My coworkers took me to the ED and I was diagnosed with multiple acute pulmonary embolism I was admitted to ICU and later in the morning suffered 2 cardiac arrests due to the clots in my lungs. I had a total of 45 minutes of CPR and was lucky enough to survive. I spent 9 days in the hospital and went home. I complained from the time I woke up in the ICU about upper back pain between my shoulder blades. I returned to work on light duty in August, but upper back pain never went away. On September 1st 2013, I went to the ED because I had pleuritis and a rapid heart rate. Because of my history of pulmonary embolism, they did a chest CT, which showed a type B descending aortic dissection from my clavicle down into my right leg.

I spent 4 days in ICU on two IVs to control my blood pressure and again went home. I believe my dissection was caused by the CPR to save my life in April 2013. I have been unable to return to work due to upper back pain which has never gone away after 2 years. Doctors have done many tests and are unable to tell me why I have the pain.

My vascular surgeon told me that he didn’t believe it could be from the dissection, but I see stories here from others who also complain of the same type of pain. My disability organization from my former employer is saying I have to go back to work in a “sedentary” job. I am trying to fight that but don’t know what will happen.


Matthew Arnold-37


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  1. Sherry T Booth

    Diane, I am an old ICU RN with more than 32 years in Pediatrics. My descending aortic dissection happened in September of 2007. It was from the curve of my arch into my right leg. I eventually developed 2 aneurysms, thoracic and abdominal. I was managed with medication until January of 2014. Then I had an ascending dissection with a leak near my heart. I had to have open heart surgery. They repaired the leak with a short Dacron graft. By that summer my thoracic aneurysm had grown to 8.94 cm. I had surgery at Duke University Medical Center in October of 2014. about 10 inches of my aorta was replaced with dacron graft. They did this surgery from the left side and went in between my ribs. I found out recently that they will need to repair the arch of my aorta from the front within the next year as it is already bulging. I said all of that to say this…from the moment I had my first dissection…I have had upper back pain. There is no doubt that it came from the dissection. When I had the ascending dissection, I had exactly the same kind of pain as the first one. I had no doubt about what had happened to me.
    I worked until March of 2012, but just couldn’t do it anymore. I could not lift my patients or walk to get my charts. I was able to get my disability approved within 5 weeks. It was not the way I wanted to end my nursing career, but it is easier on me now.
    Best wishes to you. Don’t let anyone tell you that the pain is not related. I know it is!

  2. Rose Fekech

    Hi, my husband has a type B aortic dissection. It happened in July 2015 and he is in chronic pain in his back between his shoulder blades ever since. It is definitey the dissection. Best of all to you.

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