Name: Tricia Monico
Age at time of Dissection: 65
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 20 April 2013
Tell Us Your Story:

Background info: my husband was a 65, seemingly healthy man. He was not over-weight. He golfed and played tennis regularly. His high blood pressure was controlled with meds which he took religiously. He was a non-smoker and drank socially 2-3 drinks per week. His father died at 86 of heart disease. His Mom was 99 and living on her own. (She died recently at 102.) Genetics seemed to be in his corner. Not so much.

In April 2013, after a busy/stressful day and a long weather delayed flight to Naples FL my husband experienced extreme pain in his chest. He immediately went to the ER. At the hospital he had the usual tests for a heart attack which turned up nothing. Still experiencing pain, (luckily!) he was given a CT scan which determined that he had an AD ascending and descending ~ from his carotid artery to the top of his legs. He was rushed in to surgery. After a 11 hr successful surgery, we were told he would be awake in approximately 12 hours. Five days later he was still unconscious.

The stress on our family was unbearable. After three weeks in intensive care and another week on the floor, he was released from the hospital a shell of the man who went in. What began as a long weekend in Florida didn’t end until June when we were able to fly home to Chicago. That Summer was a blur of doctors appointments, numerous scans, physical therapy, speech therapy. He slept 18 hours a day.

We took walks through the Botanic Garden which not only has beautiful flowers but more importantly many benches to rest on. At his six week check-up, we were told that he had an aneurysm which had to be “watched”. We were shocked … almost as much as we were when he had the AD. Would this nightmare never end??!!! By August he was at the Cleveland Clinic having his second open heart surgery of the year . In December he had the second part of the Elephant Trunk Procedure to repair his aneurysm. We celebrated Christmas at the Cleveland Clinic. It took him another 5-6 months before he was well enough to go back to work. We watched his salt and fat intake and be began to exercise moderately in addition to walks at the Chicago Botanic Gardens.

Fast forward 3 years. He’s doing great. Says he’s 90% better ~ perhaps the 10% could be because of natural aging. He works full time, plays tennis 2x/week, golfs as much as Chicago and Florida weather permit. He exercises moderately. Yoga once a week for mind and body.

Surely he is one of the lucky ones. If you are reading this, no doubt you are desperate for hope ~ just as I was 3 years ago when I read these blogs while my husband was in surgery ~ wondering what life had in store for him/us.
Stay strong. Be patient. Sleep as much as you like/need. This probably the one major carry-over my husband has experienced. On weekends he’s known to take 2hr+ naps.
Good luck!!!

I pray you are as lucky as my darling. God bless.