Name: Robert Bidrowski
Age at time of Dissection: 60
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 29 April 2016
Tell Us Your Story:

I had just gotten off a flight from St. Louis to Omaha, NE at 11:30 pm. I lit up a cigarette as soon as I got outside the terminal. This became my last cigarette. As I was walking to my car I had what I can only describe as an explosion in my back and then a buzzing in my head and feet. I stopped and thought “what the heck was that. It probably wasn’t good.” I threw the cigarette down, decided I was OK and continued to my car. I had a 50 mile drive to my home and decided I would be OK once I got on the road.

So I started driving on the Interstate. I started feeling really weak, had some vision problems and felt numbness in my arm. I got off the Interstate at basically the point of no return. Something told me that if I continued I was going to die.

At this point I should have called 911, probably should have called 911 at the airport. But I decided to drive myself to the hospital. I arrived at the hospital, now not feeling well at all. Parked, walked in through the security door and said I think I’m having a heart attack. I was immediately attended to by the great ER staff and soon I was having a CT scan. Apparently I had some really different blood pressures (really low on one arm and normal on the other arm.)

The ER doctor talked to me after the CT scan and showed me what was happening. An ascending aortic dissection. He said I needed surgery now and the surgeon was on her way. I remember telling the ER doctor that I had a bowling tournament that weekend in Missouri and I remember him telling me “Yeah, your probably not going to make that.”

I remember meeting the surgeon, Dr. HelenMari Merritt. The next thing I remember was waking up with a breathing tube, lots of tubes and all kinds of medical apparatus. My girlfriend was there, my sons were there. Apparently, I had been in surgery for about 8 hours. I got a dacron graft and a valve repair. I was in the hospital for about 2 weeks, came home and started the recovery. When I got out of the hospital I thought I’ll be back to work in two weeks. It actually took 4 months.

I owe so much to Dr. Merritt and the staff at Nebraska Medicine. I owe so much to my girlfriend, Kathy, and my two sons, Erik and Mark and other family as well as friends. I also need to thank my cardiac therapy specialists at Bryan Lifepointe in Lincoln, NE.

So now I’m working on the blood pressure but it is proving difficult to control. I’ve got another followup in February with a CT scan, appointment with Dr. Merritt and another appointment with a vascular specialist. What I’ve been told is that I have a dissection in the descending aorta that may need some treatment or not.

I’ve made some lifestyle changes. No smoking and trying to eat better. I’m trying to keep my stress down but work is again making that difficult. I continued my cardiac therapy by joining the health club. I’ve added some strength exercises as well. Anyway, that’s my story up till now. I’ve been told I was lucky, fortunate, it was touch and go, etc. So I will try to do what the doctors tell me is best and hopefully be here for many more years.