Name: Connie van Bemmel

Country: The Netherlands

Date of birth: 07-08-1961

Dissection descending (type B) December 2012

My name is Connie. On December 17th 2012 I drove in my car to pick up my daughter. I felt great. I do have the habit to drive until my tank is almost empty. This was one of these moments. I decided to go to fill up at the gas-station. This saved my life. I went into the gas-station to pay when I felt a terrible burning pain in my back. I had to sit down and after a few minutes I had to lay down on the ground because I lost all power in my body.

A lady came to me and yelled that they to had to call an ambulance. She also went to my car to get my phone and called my husband. In the meantime I lost the feeling in my legs, I couldn’t move anymore and was scared to dead. In the ambulance they gave me lots of medications to reduce the terrible pain. It worked and I also got back the feeling in my legs.

My husband and children arrived. The ambulance brought me to the hospital where they made a scan (I can’t remember that at all). I saw a lot of serious looking people, who told us what had happened. I had a dissection type B. I had to stay in the hospital for at least 3 weeks. When I reacted well on the medications and my blood pressure would stay low, I could go home. If not I would have a big operation with lot of complications. I heard the story but it didn’t had any effect on my. Was it me they were talking about? Later my daughter told me that I was the only one who was completely calm. They brought me to the Intensive Care.

I reacted great on the medications. They brought me to the nursing department. After 2 days the vascular surgeon came and told me that I could go home. I was very surprised because at that time I was in the hospital for just one week. At the same time I was glad because it was Christmas. I went home without any information from the doctors. After 6 weeks I came back to talk with the vascular surgeon about the second scan, which was made.

The scans raided him. He had not seen them before. We saw that he was uncertain. He had to speak with his colleagues because the situation was complicated. He told us that I had to have an operation and to make a new appointment. For us the situation for was so terrible that we decided never to go back to that man again. We went for a second opinion to Amsterdam.

There the vascular surgeon explained everything to us. I had an dissection type B of my lungs up to my groin + 2 aneurysms, one in my chest and 1 in my belly, just where the aorta of kidneys began. These aneurysms were growing. In my opinion there was no other way than having an operation. The situation could only become worse. They decided to operate me in July 2013.

During this period I have had a lot of medical check ups. By giving me some time the wall of the aorta could become stronger what could reduce the risk of a rupture during the operation. The operation took 11 hours. They called my family that the operation went well but the next morning my family received the call that I wasn’t doing very well. They had to operate again.

During the night I lost a lot of blood. My blood pressure was very low and my belly was swollen. The heart/lung-machine had to run at full power. My family was told that the risk was high that I wouldn’t make it and if I did, the chance was big that my kidneys or other organs didn’t work anymore. Next day they decided to check my kidneys. During this check another artery was damaged, so they had to operate again to stop the bleeding. But I made it.After a week I woke up.

I could move my legs and everything inside was still working. I was frail but I felt pretty well. They brought me to the nursing department. There were ups-and-downs but after 3 weeks I was good enough to go home. YEAH. My condition was zero but every day I walked a little bit more. They gave me something again the pain in my back and ribs. The skin of my belly was ruptured, caused by the serial of operations. It felt heavy and made walking more difficult.

After 6 weeks at home I went working again, starting with 2 or 3 hours, because I was bored at home. At my work they gave me all the space I needed. They watched me carefully. The first year after the operations I had problems with my concentration and I could become very tired from one moment at the other. Even going to a restaurant or talking with friends could make me very tired. In the gym I tried to improve my condition little by little.

In October 2014 I had the operation to recover the abdominal wall. It went well and after 8 days they sent me home. It took another 6 months before I could truly say: I can leave everything behind me. I’m not thinking about it all the time. I’m not searching for answers or information anymore. But most of all I’m not scared anymore.It happened to me. I survived and now I want to live and enjoy my children and all the beautiful things.

The doctor told me that there probably will happen more “things”. I will deal with that when t happens, but now the sun is shining again.

Thank you for letting me tell my story.