Name: Richard Reed
Age at time of Dissection: 65
Type of Dissection: Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 22 April 2017
Tell Us Your Story:

I was on a motorcycle trip with a a good friend in rural Eastern Washington State. We were spending the night in a nice old hotel in Republic after a day of riding mountain passes, exploring small towns and enjoying the views of lakes, rivers and mountains. My friend Ed was in bed, finishing up his journal entries for the day and I went to take a shower. Bending over to wash my feet I felt like I had been stabbed in the chest by a bayonet.

I figured it was a bad case of indigestion and tried to go to bed. After 3 hours I knew this wasn’t right and woke up Ed, told him I was having chest pains and to call 911. Ed’s a test pilot, having served in the Marines, so he remained calm, took charge and got on the phone. After giving the operator our location and room number there came a knock on the door. Ed opened it to find the hotel owner telling us he’ll have the paramedics back right up to the door. Turns out he was the towns fire chief. Ya gotta love small towns.

They got me to the local hospital where all the typical heart tests came back negative. The on-call doctor, who happened to be the Chief of Staff at the hospital (them small towns again) noticed the chest x-ray showed an enlarged aorta and called for a medevac helicopter to take me to Spokane where they had an excellent cardiology unit.

By now I was on a morphine drip, and chatting with the flight crew of the helo. I wanted to try their night vision goggles as I am an engineer for the FAA and helped certify a few of these. Anyway, after arriving at Spokane they gave me another battery of heart tests including a stress nuclear test, only to find nothing wrong. FINALLY after a change in shift, the doc looked at my CT scan and knew I had a Type B Aortic Dissection, and immediately changed my meds and stopped the tests.

Spent two days in the hospital, then my wife who is a nurse drove me home to Seattle. A cardiologist at the hospital where she works took on my case and directed me to stay off from work for 6 weeks. After 6 weeks I started working part time and slowly increased my time, but finding it difficult.

Three months later I am back at work full time, and am doing OK. Still can’t lift anything heavier than a ham sandwich and can’t play with my grandsons, but they still like to cuddle and let me read to them or watch Pixar movies. And no riding motorcycles, which is a bummer but I am alive.

The couple who ran the hotel put my bike in their shop to keep it safe, and my sons drove over in my truck tow weeks later to bring it back home. Love them small towns, and they are now our friends.

I still have trouble keeping my BP low and am on a dozen or so pills. My job is stressful so my bosses and I are working on a plan to keep the stress low until I retire in January 2020. It bothers me not being able to take care of my home and turning these tasks over to landscapers, and worse, I took my truck to Jiffy Lube for an oil change. I always took care of my owns stuff and paying someone else to do it grates on me, but, I am learning to live with it. And my wife, what can I say? She saw angel. I see the doc for a follow-up i two weeks and will update this story.