Name: Karin Bertozzi
Age at time of Dissection: 46
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 16 October 2014
Tell Us Your Story: October 16th

A day of new meaning for me. One year ago today after teaching two great classes, I fainted in a local market while getting lunch. In a matter of minutes, everything in my life changed. I was rushed via ambulance 2.2 miles to Suburban Hospital (part of the Johns Hopkins network of hospitals and directly across the street from NIH).

It was very quickly discovered that I was suffering from an ascending aortic aneurysm with dissection. 12 hours later I emerged from surgery with a new and improved section to my aorta, a repaired valve and lots of uncertainty surrounding my prognosis. 18 long ICU days later I was sent home with over 16 major meds in my bag and a double chamber pacemaker implanted under the muscles of my left chest. 10 weeks later I was released to cardiac rehab. After 12 long months of physical therapy, emotional therapy and spiritual questioning, I have maybe? found myself “close to being” on the other side of this (for now)

It is said the average adult heart beats 35 million times in one year. I can honestly say I have felt every one this year. Strong and faint, happy and sad. Beats that are irregular, beats that are strong and syncopated. I have felt beats that have been filled with life and beats that have felt lifeless. I have felt fast beats and slow beats. Beats filled with confidence and many filled with fear.

I swear the sound of my heart beating fills a room, especially at night when the house is quiet.

Somebody asked me if I was going to do something special to mark this “aorta-versary”. I am happy to report today has been a very normal day. The weather was perfect (much like a year ago). My normal day unfolded – school carpool, a quick stop at the grocery store, rehab, Mass, 7-11 for a Slurpee, high school volley ball game, and out for dinner. There is something to be said for normal.

Celebrate the normal. Health is a gift. Every heartbeat should be felt.

Thanks to all who have gotten me through this year. I can’t say that enough.

So grateful, every day.