Name: Christopher Reed
Age at time of Dissection: 57
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 17 January 2015
Tell Us Your Story:
I am presently 58 years old and my dissection occurred while I was building a fence while working on my cabin at Eagle Lake, CA. I was setting the posts when it felt like someone drove a Bowie knife through my chest. It dropped me to one knee. I was lucky my wife was there talking with me when it happened. She asked what was wrong and I said I thought I had some bad indigestion. She knowing me, said I don’t think and called 911. We have a volunteer Fire Dept. near my cabin.
While she was calling I went down to my butt and then laid down on the ground. I finally picked myself up and walked over to the deck to change my shoes as they were muddy. I got in my truck and my wife drove me to the Fire Dept where the volunteers were headed. When we got there my right arm had lost all feeling and I couldn’t move it. The volunteers took my blood pressure and told me that life flight had been called and we needed to get to our small little airport. When we arrived at the airport, the trauma nurse took control. She check my blood pressure and told the pilot they had to leave now.
The gurney I was on would not lift me high enough to get in the helicopter so the nurse asked me to get in. The platform in the helicopter was about 4ft long and I am 6’6″. so after scrunching I was able to make it work. I looked out at my wife and told her that I loved her and to tell my kids I loved them. Then the nurse told the pilot to get in the air and hurry to Renown Hospital in Reno, NV. The last thing I remember before I past out was flying over the lake and wondering if it was the last thing I would see. I was told later that I died when I past out and the nurse revived me and was able to get me to the hospital. The next thing I remember, I woke up and I was on a gurney and being ran down the hallway to surgery.
I looked at one of the nurses and asked where I was and what we were doing. She explained that I was on my way to surgery and it was serious. I told her I needed to talk with my wife who was driving from Eagle Lake to Reno. The nurse pulled out her phone and asked what the number was, dialed it and handed me the phone. When the phone was answered, my Mother in law was on the other end and said my wife was asking directions from the service station attendant. When my wife got in the truck I told her I was headed to surgery and it didn’t look good, she told me she was 5 minutes away and would be there soon. When she got to the hospital the Dr. was there to talk with her before he went to surgery and explained that I had died in the helicopter on the way and again in the emergency room and was revived both times and was now going into surgery. He told her that I had both an ascending and descending Aortic dissection and that my artery to my right arm, the artery to my right kidney, the artery to my left leg and my carotid artery had also dissected.
He told her it would be a miracle if I pulled through and if I did I would be out for 7 to 8 days and be in the hospital for 30 to 45 days. After 10 1/2 hours of surgery and an ascending graph I woke up a day and a half later and my wife said I reached up and pulled all the tubes out of my throat. The nurse that was in my room called Code Blue and the Drs. came running. The respiratory Dr. told the nurse that I must not like the tubes and for her to put me on a mask. I don’t remember any of this, my wife said I past out as soon as the tubes were pulled out. I woke up in the morning and my wife was in my room. When she saw I was awake she started checking my feet and hands to make sure I could move and then she started asking these stupid questions. I looked at her and said what are you doing, and she said they thought I would have brain damage or possible paralysis. I told her I was fine and could move with no problem and I understood everything she was saying.
She called the nurse and she got a hold of the Doctors. By this time my family was all there and I realized that I had just dodged the Grim Reaper. If it wasn’t for the love of my family and all the prayers I don’t believe I would have made it. The next day I ask the nurse if I could get up and sit in a chair while they changed my bed, and the day after I asked to take a walk, I made it about half way around the ICU Unit, the day after that I completed a whole lap, I then moved up to two laps and at the end of 2 week in ICU I was discharged and got to go home with a pile of pills, 34 a day. The doctor couldn’t believe how fast I was able to go home. I believe it was God that kept me here for a reason that I have not figured out yet.
I will keep thanking him and hope to live a productive second life. I went back to work 1 year to the date of my dissection and have been back to work for 11 months now. I am so happy to be productive again. Being off work for a year was hard, and after gaining 40 pounds I realize my life has to change. I am on a diet and working to get control of my life. Good luck to all that go through this life altering issue and thank you for listening to my story.