Name: Jamie Fitzgerald
Age at time of Dissection: 41
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 24 July 2014
Tell Us Your Story:

It was July 24 when i had just spent the day out shopping with my wife. i arrived home and watched a bit of tv. My wife went to work.

I remember i had been feeling a bit off over the last few weeks and even went and seen a doctor sent me for some blood tests. Due to my shift work as a police officer i didn’t get the chance to have these tests done. (not that it would have helped)

Anyway i began to feel a little off i went into my ensuite and begin to splash water on my face. I remember feeling a blood rush up the left side of my body which felt like an explosion in my head. I stood there for a minute looking in the mirror wondering what had happened. I then left the ensuite and sat on the end of the bed. Something didn’t feel right i had a severe pain in the stomach and felt ill. I laid on the bed thinking that a rest might fix it (being a stubborn male) My 4 year old son was in with me i remember him going through the drawers making a mess. I then don’t remember what happened for the next 3-4 hours. My wife returned home and was yelling my name i sort of came to and could see a huge mess in the bedroom. i looked up and mumbled to my wife i might just hop into bed. My wife noticed that i didn’t seem right and appeared to be in a dazed state. She said i was looking grey. She rang her mother who was a couple of minutes away. (i don’t recal
l this) As soon as she arrived she started yelling my name. i could hear a muffled voice. I recall her saying call the ambulance.

10 minutes later i was awoken again there were two paramedics standing over me. They tried to take my blood pressure several times but weren’t getting anything. my wife recalls seeing their faces. They really had no idea what was going on. I was then placed on their trolley and put in the back of the ambulance i remember lights in my face and people trying to talk to me. I was very scared at this time. Apparently i kept slipping in and out of consciousness.

I don’t recall anything else from here on so i these words are from my wife.

I arrived at footscray hospital apparently looking like a smurf. A specialist paramedic had boarded the ambulance half way to the hospital. He had told my wife he really had no idea what was going on but it was very serious. He though there was some kind of blockage around my heart which he told the doctors when i arrived at hospital. Once i arrived it was all hands on deck my vitals were shutting down a heart specialist started to stick a drain in my chest and started to drain blood out continuously. Apparently my vital started to pick up and they stabilised me. A CT scan confirmed that my aorta had split and immediate surgery was needed if i had a chance of living.

At this time they arranged for me to be rushed to another hospital where Heart Surgeons were on standby. My wife was told to come in and say good bye to me in case i didn’t make it. She refused to do that. I was rushed to the Royal Melbourne Hospital prepped and straight into surgery. At this stage all my family were on there way in.

My wife was told the longer i was in surgery the better chance i had to survive. The surgery lasted for 9 hours. Part of my Aorta was replaced and my aortic valve was replaced with a mechanical one. my wife recalls the moment one of the surgeons came out and gave her a thumbs up.

It was approximately 2 days later that i came to. I didn’t recall a thing. I remember the Surgeon coming up to me and shaking my hand and telling me i was one tough bastard. He thought i had less than 10 % chance of making it through the surgery given how far along the dissection was.

All my vitals seemed ok but my kidneys were struggling a little. Somehow i didn’t need a blood transfusion which was to the surgeons surprise. I spent 9 days in hospital. I also found out that i had part of a descending dissection which will be monitored and treated with medication.

i am on several types of medications for blood pressure and warfarin for the mechanical valve. It has been 11 months to the day and it has been a slow recovery. The medications have been harsh and on most days i will suffer nausea and tiredness.

I returned to work at the start of December for 2 days a week doing desk duties. I am now up to 4 days a week as i wait to face the Police Medical Doctor to determine my future within the police force. It is possible i will deemed unsuitable. The job is stressful so no longer suits my lifestyle.

Before my dissection i was very fit. Played basketball pretty much all my life and worked out at the gym on a regular basis. I have since seen a genetic specialist and am awaiting for the results.

I try to have a positive outlook on life but at times struggle. I am grateful for my second chance and now need to figure out what is going to suit my lifestyle if i am no longer suitable for the force.

I would like to say all the stories on here are inspirational. it is nice to know that so many other people in the world can share their stories.

Stay positive people….i know i am trying.