Category: Fifties Page 1 of 2

Charles McKenna-56

Name: Charles McKenna
Age at time of Dissection: 56
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 25 January 2014
Tell Us Your Story:

On Thursday January 24th, 2014 I was 6’0″ and 180 pounds. Reasonably fit non-smoker. On a Thursday evening I lifted a 175 pound, big, awkward snowblower into my SUV, took it to a cottage, used it, put it back in and returned home and took it out. My wife helped on all but one of the lifts. I stupidly did it myself on the last one. It was too heavy to lift comfortably alone and I knew it but did it anyway. I felt fine, slept fine and worked on Friday. Friday night, while I was home alone as my wife was at the cottage, I felt a searing, ripping pain in my chest and abdomen.

I called 911 and laid down to die on the rug by the front door. I had sustained a Stanford type A and B aortic dissection. It was diagnosed and my ascending aorta was removed and replaced with a tubular Dacron graft the next morning. Three weeks later I was finally conscious and able to be removed from the respirator. I couldn’t talk or swallow and was very weak. Those things had completely resolved about 4-6 weeks later with rehab. Today I am three years post surgery and doing fine.

I was on a sick leave from work for about four months. I do plan to retire a little early to enjoy life beyond work. I do still have some abdominal pains periodically, maybe every few weeks or so, which I attribute to the descending dissection. But that is being monitored for size and my blood pressure is being controlled. I do have some numbness in my toes.

I can live with that. But a cautionary word- exhale when you lift heavy weight! Google the Valsalva maneuver as it relates to heavy lifting– ramifications are serious for anyone with aortic flaws. I believe the heavy lift caused my dissection.

Lloyd Erickson-55

Name: lloyd erickson
Age at time of Dissection: 55
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 9 July 1997

Tell Us Your Story: Celebrated my 20th survival year ////// My heart doctor thinks that is a world record. That length of time is exceptional considering I suffered a “total” dissection. I am known as the “miracle man” at the hospital.

I have two aneurysms that have been at a critical stage for the last ten years but have not failed. I have gotten very familiar with living day to day. Life is great, enjoy every moment.

Christopher Reed-57

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.

James LeClaire-57

Name: James LeClaire
Age at time of Dissection: 57
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 18 April 2016
Tell Us Your Story:

I‘m a recent survivor of an Ascending and Descending Aortic Dissection. I worked full time as an automotive technician, and had just recently switched shops so that I could be closer to family members. I started the job on April 1st and was looking forward to working there, because they are a great crew, and the insurance benefits that I would qualify for would take effect on May 1. I had gone in on the Saturday, previous, to fulfill my weekend obligation, which happened once every month. I had, absolutely, no symptoms that were apparent on that day. My wife had left for Texas to visit relatives, while I stayed behind, because I hadn’t accumulated any paid time off, yet.

The following day I had my 5 year old Granddaughter over for a fun day at the park and we were out, together, for about 5 hours or so. On returning home, I was exhausted, and asked her if she could hang out with her Great Grandpa while I took a short nap. While they played in the other room, I noticed a very slight pain in my abdomen and back that I attributed to, possibly, pulling a muscle in my previous days work (It happens quite often in this business.). My Stepdaughter came by at around 5pm, after her5 work shift, and picked my Granddaughter up. I continued to sleep.

That evening around 8pm, my wife called from Texas and we chatted a little, but the pain was a little worse now, and I told her that I wasn’t feeling well, and that I would call her the following day.

I went to work the following morning after eating a light breakfast and felt okay, except for the pain that hadn’t changed from the previous night. I brought in my first vehicle of the day and had to pry on a part with considerable force to make the new part fit properly. I dropped the vehicle down from the lift and proceeded to finish some other repairs that were needed on the vehicle.

The pain from the previous night was intensified, and I marked it off as probable indigestion from my breakfast, when, suddenly, the pain intensified incredibly. I also began to feel dizzy and somewhat out of breath. I still debated whether this was a true medical emergency, however, which was very dumb on my part. I finally asked a co-worker to call 911 as I suddenly felt very weak, and thought, finally, that I was having a heart attack.

Surrounded by co-workers, the ambulance finally arrived and I was shipped off to a local heart hospital. Nitro and an EKG were started and IV lines were set. The pain was incredible… it felt like my heart was being ripped from my chest while I was still fully awake. I remained conscious throughout.

Arriving at the ED I was given another EKG and a series of blood tests, that, basically, told the staff that my heart was fine. I was pulled out of the triage and moved to the hallway (The ED was incredibly busy that morning, around 9:30AM), to await an X-Ray of my chest. I assumed that my case wasn’t dire, as the staff had moved me out into the hall and seemed far less urgent, than when I had first arrived. I did remain uncomfortable and in a lot of pain, but figured I would get a shot of something, and be told to go home and rest for a day or two. I called my wife and told her that I was in the ED and might have had a heart attack.

I went for my X-Ray and was pushed back into the hallway and noticed that there were a lot of people who seemed more critical, than I was, at the time. I waited and waited, until the Hospitalist came over and told me that I would stay overnight for observation, and have a stress test the following morning. Cool, I thought, maybe a blockage or something and I would possibly miss a little work, but nothing major.

The PA on duty looked at her triage board and my case had come up in the rotation and she came to discuss, with me, how I was feeling. I told her I was in pain and she ordered some morphine and told me to sit tight and relax while she discussed me with her colleagues. I was then visited by a Cadio-Thorassic surgeon who asked me where my pain was and he promptly went away. The Hospitalist then ordered a CT Scan and I was returned again, to my previous hallway location.

Within a half hour or so, the PA returned and brought along a few more people, and I was suddenly back to the head of the line and was being prepped for surgery. I had had many more injections of Morphine and Fentanyl and was pretty much still in the same pain. I remember my step daughter and her fiancee asking me how I felt as everyone around me was feverishly working to get me prepped. I asked the PA to please call my wife, in Texas. I was told that I was going to have my chest opened and I was suffering from an “Aortic Dissection”. I had no idea what that meant, but figured it was “Serious!”. Where was my phone? I need to look that up.

The next several hours (7 or 8, I’m told) vanished, while I was in the ER as the hospital staff worked to save my life. Unknown to me, Te PA contacted my wife, and told her that she needed to get here as soon as she could and that I probably wouldn’t survive the surgery, and prepare to have me removed from life support.

I woke up and noticed that the ICU nurse was sitting beside me and that my Stepdaughter was reading her textbook, from the nursing course she was taking. I remarked that it was awful bright, still, at 8PM in April, and was amazed at how long the day had become. I was informed that it was the following morning.

I made it through the worst of the mess and my wife arrived, to find, to her amazement, that I was awake and doing pretty well, considering. I was in the ICU for a couple of days and was then sent to the Cardiac Care ward, with the intent that I would be soon released to rehab.

Toward the end of that first week, the pain returned and my wife noted to the staff that something was still seriously wrong (I thought I was merely constipated from the pain meds), and she relayed that information to the Cardiac PA who ordered another CT scan. They found that I also had a descending dissection and that a TEVAR procedure was needed, so they brought me back to the ICU so they could administer Lobetalol intravenously to keep my blood pressure below 120 Systolic. The TEVAR was scheduled and I waited. I was, also, informed that the TEVAR procedure may result in the loss of a kidney, and, even worse, could render me a paraplegic.

Unfortunately, the blood thinners they had prescribed (Assuming that the second dissection didn’t occur), had a long half life and my scheduled surgery was pushed back a week. Finally, on May 2nd, I had a successful surgery and spent the following 2 weeks in the ICU and Cardiac care ward.

I am going to lose a Kidney at some point in my life, but it will be a slow degeneration. I still have the use of all of my facilities, and count myself extremely lucky to have, not only survived this killer, but also with virtually no serious complications!

I have to thank all of the people who got me through this, because without them, I wouldn’t be here typing this story.

Stacey Payne’s husband-53

Name: Stacey Payne’s husband
Age at time of Dissection: 53
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 28 January 2016
Tell Us Your Story:

This happened to my husband. I will never forget the first time he went to the hospital two days before. He had me rush him to the hospital he had indigestion, and chest pain and weakness in his arms. They kept him overnight to do test. They done a echo cardiogram, stress test, and lots of blood test. Which they found nothing. And sent him home. He got up the next morning and went to work. He had been there about 3 hours, and he called his boss and said it was happening all over again, that he was going home. His boss told him to stay where he was he was coming to get him.

Because they were about 10 minutes from the hospital. He got in the truck and drove him straight to the hospital. By the time he got there he was out of it. And very sick to his stomach from the pain. When I got to the hospital I had never saw him in such pain. He never complained. They did the CT Scan stat, and rushed him straight to the OR. Where they only gave him 20% chance to live. And they were in surgery for 9 hours. During this they had to do a double bypass and put in a stint.

And he had a stroke. Withing 24 hours they had took the breathing tubes out, and from there they slowly took something away each day. Took them a while to figure out he had a stroke. He was really out of it and talking really crazy. He spent 9 days in the CICU, and 3 on the step down unit from there. The stroke affected his vision, and his memory. He has been told to take it easy. What brought me to this page was looking to see if anyone else had to have another surgery. He may have to have another one, as his aorta is leaking, and they said it can cause his heart to weaken. I have been trying to research treatments and outcome of another surgery. If anyone knows anything I would love to know.

He has always been a hard worker and this not being able to do anything is driving him nuts.

Tony Hojnoski-54

Name: Tony Hojnoski
Age at time of Dissection: 54
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 2 April 2016
Tell Us Your Story:

Iwas a 54 healthy active medication free, symptom free, male. I jogged into a rest room on a highway. Went to the bathroom, washed my hands and suddenly my jaw had severe pain that brought me to my knees. I made my way to our truck and my wife and had her drive me the hospital. The ride was ten to fifteen minutes. My symptoms spread from my jaw to my chest to my left leg.

My wife wheeled me into the ER. I was still conscious but the pain in my leg was becoming over whelming. I recall the triage portion of the ER but have no memories of the ER or scans that took place after that. i thank God for the experience of a couple of nurses who almost from the moment I arrived activated the Cardiac and Vascular surgical team. Within two hours I was out of the ER and in Surgery.

The Cardiac surgeon at my chest and the Vascular surgeon at my legs. 11 hours later, a mechanical Aortic valve, repair of the ascending Aortic tear, a new tube placed, Femoral bipass from my right leg to left leg and a Fasciotomy on my left shin. A long stay in ICU and then to Cardiac critical care. I Then 10 days in a rehab hospital moving from a wheel chair to walker to no aids. I was very weak but doing better every day until the 29th of April. Double vision and back to the hospital after suffering a TIA. It resolved without any residual effects.

I am grateful to be at home. A pile of pills every morning and night with a self administered shot in the belly. I just completed my first week of Cardiac rehab with out complications. I sometimes feel I am a star. The nurses and therapists keep saying “oh you’re the guy’. Its difficult to explain to people what happened to me. I am grateful to our fine local hospital, the nurses,doctors and all their supporting staff. I was lucky to have a quick diagnosis and even quicker surgery. I know with extended time it would have been unlikely that I would have survived.

I have always lived day to day but I cant help wondering what life will be like in the future? My ultrasounds still show dissections in my Carotid, Descending Aorta and Femoral arteries.

Dina Wright-50 (husband’s story)

Name: Dina Wright
Age at time of Dissection: 50
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 5 December 2014
Tell Us Your Story:

My husband Mitch had an ascending and descending aortic dissection in December of 2014 at 50 years old. He was at work when he had severe chest pain that moved to his back. I had never seen him like this before. He has a high threshold for pain so when he said he needed me to take him somewhere to get relief for his back I knew it was serious. We left our kids with my mother in law and went to the ER. There was an incredible ER Dr. who quickly diagnosed his dissection from his symptoms and cat scan. He was immediately transferred to a nearby heart center by critical care ambulance and immediately taken into surgery. This happened so quickly it was difficult to understand the magnitude of what was going on.

I would not let myself Google aortic dissection until he was out of surgery for fear of what I might find out. After surgery, his surgeon gave me more details. His dissection began at the root of his heart and travels down into his left thigh. His aortic root was replaced with a synthetic one and his root was re suspended. Every Dr. that saw him during his stay in the hospital would shake his hand and congratulate him on being alive.

The tear was as close to the heart as could be without killing him immediately. The surgeon said he will always wonder why my husband had a dissection because other than high blood pressure (which was controlled with BP medication prior to dissection) he has no contributing factors that would cause his dissection. The high BP alone should not cause a dissection he told us. Mitch stayed 1 week in the hospital to recover from surgery with the help of incredible ICU nurses.

It has been just over a year since his dissection and we are extremely fortunate and grateful for his recovery. It has been a year of learning a new normal for Mitch and our family. Mitch was unable to go back to work as a self employed carpenter which was very difficult for him to accept. But there was no choice in tha one. Our Kids, who were 13 and 11 at the time of his dissection, are extremely protective of their dad now. They don’t let him lift anything they feel is remotely heavy, even if it doesn’t come close to the 20 lb limit the Dr. restricted him to. They are also very understanding about his sodium intake and how it effected what we as a family eat.

Since the surgery it has been very difficult to keep his blood pressure stable. The systolic # is generally 125-155. He currently takes 300 mg of beta blockers daily, 40 milligrams of BP med quinapril daily, and 60 milligrams of calcium channel blockers daily, all to try and help control his BP. He also takes prescribed pain medication and muscle relaxers to help reduce his significant back pain due to his previous back injuries. When his back pain is high it increases his BP even more.

He goes to physical therapy weekly to help his back pain. The high dosage of meds he is on makes his day very different than it was prior to his dissection due to all of their side effects. His memory and attention span are significantly reduced. His level of energy is almost depleted after small amounts of activity. He always feels fatigued. When he occasionally feels good he can tend to over due it which causes more back pain and even more fatigue. Naps are a necessity and not a luxury anymore. But we are slowly getting used to our new normal and happy to, if it means it will help Mitch.

One of the struggles we have had is finding the right cardiologist for my husband. We have been seeing the same cardiologist since he was released from the hospital. Unfortunately, this Dr. has only 1 other patient with a dissection and in many ways a very different case than my husband’s. I expect our cardiologist to be more informed on this subject that he appears to be at my husband’s appointments. It has been very difficult to find a Dr. that has significant experience with dissections. We live just outside Tampa, Florida and not anywhere near any of the listed hospitals or Dr.s listed on this site or we would definitely visit one.

I would greatly appreciate any information on finding a Dr. that can provide us with experienced guidance, instead of us telling the Dr. what information we found online about dissections. This site has been an incredible wealth of information and I am extremely grateful for all the time you have invested in it. It has helped to answer so m
any questions we have and has given me such peace of mind reading survivors and survivors spouses experiences. Thank you for this gift.

Bill (My Husband)-58

Name: My Husband
Age at time of Dissection: 58
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 22 December 2015
Tell Us Your Story:

My husband Bill suffered his first aortic dissection on December 20, 2014. He was 58 years old at the time. He was on the treadmill when he felt what he described as, “My heart feels like it just ripped from the lining of my chest.” Having suffered a heart attack five years earlier, I assumed the pain had something to do with the stents that had been inserted.

Upon arrival to ER we were quickly whisked back into a room and things moved pretty quickly. We were initially told that he had a lesion on his aorta and that he needed surgery. I asked if they would go through his groin to fix it, similar to how they put in his stents. The ER Doctor said, “No, this surgery is a much more involved but I’ll let the thoracic surgeon talk to you.”

When the surgeon arrived he told us that if my husband didn’t have the surgery he would die. He also said that a quadruple bi pass was a walk in the park compared to the surgery my husband was about to have. After 8 hours of surgery, my husband had a new ‘radiator hose and was good for another 100,000 miles.’ We spent Christmas in the hospital and my husband was finally released on December 31.

During 2015 my husband was the text book patient. He ate healthy, went to cardiac rehab, and continued exercising- no weights just mild cardio and calisthenics. In August, after riding his bike he started having chest pains. He thought he overdid it on the bike; however when the pain didn’t subside after a couple days, we went back to ER. He was kept overnight and a host of tests were ran. The doctor told him his heart was fine and that there was nothing wrong. After a week or so my husband resumed his normal exercise routine.

On December 22, 2015 we picked our youngest son up from the airport. He recently joined the Air Force and this was the first time we had seen him in 6 months. After spending last Christmas in the hospital we were all looking forward to a quiet Christmas at home. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the case. That evening, around 7:30 pm my husband said he was having chest pains. He didn’t want to go to the hospital because our son had just gotten home. Fortunately, my son insisted he go to ER. Upon arrival, my husband was diagnosed with an MI and they took him to the Cath lab and implanted another stent. When his chest pain didn’t subside, a hospitalist finally ordered another CT scan. The news was devastating. My husband’s aorta had dissected from the point of last years repair all the way down to his right thigh. Plans were immediately made to transfer him to a University hospital 2 hours away.

Due to his heart attack and the complexity of the tear, surgery was not performed. The surgeon also informed us that the CT scan done in August (after his bike excursion) did show a dissection down to the diaphragm. This was missed by doctors at our local hospital. The latest dissection extended from the diaphragm down to his right thigh. After spending 12 days in ICU, my husband was sent home on a boat load of BP medications. The plan is to keep his BP low and monitor the dissection. It’s my understanding that the aorta has torn but does not have an aneurysm.

We’ve only been home for 5 days so my hope is that somehow we find our new normal. I could ‘what if’ our situation to death but I know that will not do any good. Right now I am paralyzed by fear that something will happen to him. I spend my nights listening to his breath and watching the rise and fall of his chest. Each morning he wakes, I praise God for giving us another day together. For those of you living with or taking care of a loved one with a similar situation please feel free to share how you cope with situation.

Dan Brackle-51

Name: Dan Brackle
Age at time of Dissection: 51
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 4 January 2011
Tell Us Your Story:

Iwas sitting in my office at 10 in the morning, and got a tremendous pain in my back and lost feeling in my leg.

My co-worker took me to local hospital emergency rom I had a cat scan and then was air-lifted to Univ. of Pa. Hospital and had surgery next morning to repair type B dissection. 5 days later had to have open heart surgery to repair type A dissection.

In June of this year had a stroke and after recovering will be going back to work in January. My mother had 2 brain aneurysms 20 years ago and is still living at 81. I am interested in any treatment or clinical trials in the future.

Lisa Elliott-50

Name: Lisa Elliott
Age at time of Dissection: 50
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 4 August 2015
Tell Us Your Story:

I am a professional aerialist with a history of chronic CMV, but otherwise very healthy. I began experiencing chest pain (upper left), shortness of breath and faintness in November of 2014. I went to a cardiologist in December of 2014 and lucky for me, I fainted in their office during a stress test. I was sent to the ER and received every imagining test there is during a three-day stay in the hospital. Everything came back perfect, except for the echo-cardiogram, which showed an enlarged aorta and leaky valve. They were not particularly concerned due to the absence of obvious risk factors, and sent me home once I could stop fainting. We planned to look at it again in a year.

I continued to have symptoms of shortness of breath, weakness and upper-left pain, which the cardiologist could not explain. Apparently because “you don’t feel an enlarged aorta or a leaky valve” I was told in early Spring that they believed my symptoms were psychological. I am a professional athlete, and my body awareness is far beyond the norm. I am very peaceful and calm, and knew my symptoms were not psychological (i.e., anxiety). It drives me nuts that MD’s routinely make a diagnosis that they’re not particularly qualified to make, based on the fact that they can’t find another explanation.

I continued to train, though modified to reduce symptoms, and performed an aerial act at a public event on August 2nd. I felt horrible. I was weak, and continued to feel chest pain. During a coaching session (I was the coach) on August 4th I felt a sudden, intense burning in my upper left chest and knew it was an aneurysm. It was like a blossoming of fire. After the initial pulse of pain it was unchanged for about 45 seconds, and then it began to burn downwards along the length of my aorta.

EMT’s diagnosed a heart attack and transported me to Swedish Hospital at Cherry Hill. Oddly, I knew it was an aneurysm, but because I had researched aneurysms and understood them to be deadly within minutes, I didn’t bother to tell the EMT’s. I believed I was dead. The only thing I cared about was the trauma I would be causing my two teenagers by my death. Everything else paled in comparison.

Once at the hospital they began treating me for the heart attack, only to quickly discover the aneurysm in the aortic arch. I was quickly moved to another surgical team and repaired in a 10-hour surgery. I have a dacron arch, St. Judes valve and a length of vein harvested from my left leg replacing artery above my heart. The dissection extends about 6 inches into each thigh.

The dissection also interrupted blood flow to my left kidney. I was placed on diuretics and put on fluid restriction, and my lungs were drained several times of up to a liter of fluid from each lung. I was also told that my breathing difficulty was “psychological”. Sexism, anyone? Eventually they discovered the issue with my kidney and placed a stent to improve blood flow. My breathing eased immediately and has remained stable.

During the month-long episode with kidney failure I was also paralyzed twice for several days because, theoretically, flaps of tissue from the dissection blocked blood flow to my spine. This was an intermittent problem, and I currently have use of my extremities, though not complete.

I’ll be returning to surgery for placement of a stent at the bottom of the aorta where it splits into the femoral arteries. Currently I can’t walk more than a few feet without running out of blood and oxygen in my leg muscles. Blood flow is predominantly in the false lumen, and turbulence from the complicated path leads to an inadequate supply. At this point my mobility and the possibility of leading a active life will depend on the success of this procedure. I am hopeful, and very, very nervous. So much depends on it. I have many questions for my surgeon.

I continue to go to the gym and do what I can. Mostly I work on range-of-motion and air squats. I also work, very carefully, on a form of acrobatics I have developed using a physio-ball. It’s very fluid and easy. I’m amazed I haven’t experienced more atrophy than I have. I have to lay down flat quite often to allow perfusion of my muscles in my extremities. It’s very uncomfortable to exert myself, and results in a burning and cramping in my abdominal, hip and leg muscles. I also have an intense tingling in my extremities, especially on the left side, where the weakness is also the worst, which increases with exertion.

I have no family history of aneurysm or dissection, no problems with my heart at all, no problems with my blood pressure, no lifestyle-related risk factors, and no predisposing diseases. I’ve eaten an anti-inflammatory diet for 20 years (Paleo). This seems to be related to my connective tissue disorders (CMV and something like CFS) combined with the very high intra-thoracic pressure produced by my aerial acrobatics training and performing. In that way it’s very similar to aneurysms and dissections resulting from weight lifting.

The story isn’t over yet. I’m looking forward to working with the rehab team after this stent procedure to determine what, if any, of my acrobatics practice will be possible for me. I love practicing hand balancing, but of course no one knows if that’s advisable for post-dissection patients. The two don’t generally go together! It’s up to me.

So glad to have found this site. Thank you!

Tony Mullins-52

Name: Tony Mullins
Age at time of Dissection: 52
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 20 January 2015
Tell Us Your Story:

In the mid afternoon of 20 January 2015, after just starting a weight lifting workout, I felt nauseous, faint, weak-legged and pain in my upper back. I managed to recover for approximately 30 minutes, made it to the locker room and to my car, then drove myself home.

After 1:30, still feeling no better, my wife returned from work, and I said we needed to head to the ER. I was quickly diagnosed with Stanford A/B dissection with extension into the left carotid, left subclavian, brachiocephalic and left common iliac arteries by the ER attending physician after CT scan, and he summoned the cardiothoracic trauma team.

A detached section of the intima was prolapsing into my heart with each beat. The surgeons performed a hemiarch replacement with dacron graft, leaving the other components of the dissection to treat medically or for later surgery.

Surgery took 7.5 hours, whence I spent 16 days in ICU — comatose for 6, intubated for 12 — then 5 days in rehab. I suffered bilateral lower lobe collapse and a lung infection, thus the long intubation.

I’m recovered, but am a chronic dissection patient with organs on the left side supplied by the false lumen, those on the right by the true lumen. I have some malperfusion in the lower extremities and severe gluteal claudication upon any exertion, but I’m alive.

Keith Hudgens-57

Name: keith hudgens
Age at time of Dissection: 57
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 29 December 2014
Tell Us Your Story: Hey Brian I had to correct some typos. Can you please repost?

I was on the computer that night. I took a sip of my drink and then it felt like I was being kicked in the chest. I had severe pain and could not catch my breath. I thought I was having a heart attack because I had had double by-pass surgery two years prior. I woke my wife and had her drive me to the hospital, 15 minutes away. They placed me in the triage. By now I could feel the tearing moving to my abdomen. They did a CT scan and determined I had a type 1 aortic dissection.

The young ER Dr. was on two phones trying to find a location for treatment. UF Shands said they could take me. Dr Thomas Martin and team were standing by. It was too foggy to airlift me, so the Dr gave the EMT a bag of blood and a bag of morphine and said if you can get him there they are ready. 90 minutes later I was on the table. Dr Martin led a prayer and they began. My wife told me about the prayer. I was out 15 minutes into the ambulance ride.

The surgery lasted 13 hrs. They gave me a Florida sleeve, a Dacron graft and inserted a stent. I was in ICU for 3 weeks. My wife made a 2 hr drive every day to be with me. During my recovery I suffered mini-strokes and damage to my C1 C2 spinal cord.

I was then sent to a skilled nursing center to wean me from my Tracheostomy. Then I was sent back to my hometown to Brooks ReHab.
I blacked out several times and had to have a Pace-maker.

It’s now been 10 months, I’m back at work and feeling stronger every day.
However, I am a lot weepier. I can’t watch a sad movie or hear a sad story. People have commented that God has plans for you. I thought about it and I agree. God wants me to be with my wife and make her happy. He answered her prayers.

Keith Hudgens-57

Name: keith hudgens
Age at time of Dissection: 57
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 29 December 2014
Tell Us Your Story:

Iwas on the computer that night. I took a sip of my drink and then it felt like I was being kicked in the chest. I had severe pain and could not catch my breath. I thought I was having a heart attack because I had had double by-pass surgery two years prior. I woke my wife and had her drive me to the hospital, 15 minutes away. They placed me in the triage. By now I could feel the tearing moving to my abdomen. They did a CT scan and determined I had a type 1 aortic dissection.

The young ER Dr. was on two phones trying to find a location for treatment. UF Shands said they could take me. Dr Thomas Martin and team were standing by. It was too foggy to airlift me, so the Dr gave the EMT a bag of blood and a bag of morphine and said if you can get him there they are ready. 90 minutes later I was on the table. Dr Martin led a prayer and they began. My wife told me about the prayer. I was out 15 minutes into the ambulance ride.

The surgery lasted 13 hrs. They gave me a Florida sleeve, a Dacron graft and inserted a stent. I was in ICU for 3 weeks. My wife made a 2 hr drive every day to be with me. During my recovery I suffered mini-strokes and damage to my C1 C2 spinal cord.

I was the sent to a skilled nursing center to wean me from my Tracheostomy. Then I was sent back to my hometown to Brooks ReHab.
I blacked out several times and had to have a Pace-maker.

It’s now been 10 months, I’m back at work and feeling stronger everyday.
However, I am a lot more weepier. I can’t watch a sad movie or hear a said story. People have commented that God has plans for you. I thought about it and I agree. God wants me to be with my wife and make her happy. He answered her prayers.

Jim Tindell-56

Name: Jim Tindell
Age at time of Dissection: 56
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 25 March 1997
Tell Us Your Story:

Awoke on a Monday morning to an extremely painful ripping in my chest. Went to local ER and spent 5 days there until a TEE was done where the dissecting aorta was discovered. Ascending to bifurcation. Top to bottom.

Cardiologists Recommended to my wife that I be air ambulanced to Houston to see the leading aortic aneurysm surgeon Dr Joseph Coselli. Surgery done next day and they were not able to do lower part of aneurysm at that time.

They decided to watch it and monitor the change in size carefully. That was 18 years ago. I have been fortunate to lead a fairly normal life since then (with an aortic valve and root replacement in subsequent years).

In 2014 I was diagnosed with lung cancer which they found early because I was having the monitoring CT scan for the aneurysm. I have since completed 9 months of chemo and radiation and am cancer free!! Now I will need to get Dr. Coselli’s opinion on the remaining dissected section of my middle and lower aorta as it has grown to a potentially dangerous level.

Not sure he will want to do surgery. But will need to find out. So I’ve been through a lot but still have a positive attitude and hope to have some more good years ahead with my wonderful family.

Scott Pribyl-53



Name: Scott Pribyl
Age at time of Dissection: 53
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 28 January 2008
Tell Us Your Story: Middle of the night dissection. 5% chance of surviving. Lost a lot of blood. Took 25 pints. Section A with prosthetic valve. Tybe B Descending also.

I have photos I’d like to send taken last 2 months. May give inspiration to others. I also want to write a book- looking for a publisher. Any advice? Also want to speak to ‘Heart Related’ Groups, Physicians, etc. When you see photos you’ll see why. 7+ long years of rehab.

Dear Brian, I suffered both Section A Aortic Dissection and Type B Residual Dissection, in the middle of the night, January 28, 2008- age 53. I waited a few hours before going to 2 hospitals. Lost a lot of blood. Took 25 pints to save my life. I had a 5% survival chance. After 7 long years of rehab. I want to write a book, talk to groups, clinics, doctors, etc.

I have attached a few photos- taken in last 4-8 weeks (May/June), age 60. I If you have any advice how I can find a publisher, share my story, etc. I would appreciate it. I have been online a lot.
Literally, and Sincerely, my story and photos are- statistically- 1 in a Million, or more. I can prove that. Hope I can give others inspiration and hope.

Some recent photos attached. Thanks, and I hope you can direct me to resources where I can share my story. The Nurses at the Hospital where Emergency surgery was done named me the “Miracle Man”. One turned out to be my cousin. I can document everything- surgical records, etc.. I need advice where I take my story. Thanks again, Brian!

— Scott S. Pribyl 1342
Shirley St Green Bay, WI 54304 920 499 7337 Cell 920 819 8023

I was a Champion Competitive PowerLifter and Martial Artist- even up to age 50. I can only lift 50#- same as you I am guessing- but as you know, “There’s life after Emergency Heart Surgery”. Feel free to forward my story and photos to whomever you feel they might help. I have no idea where my situation is going, but the story seems to be unique.

Thanks! Scott

Update: 9/7/2019:

Type of Dissection
Comment or Message
Hi Brian- Nice new site!! Hope you are doing well. I still refer people to your site. Especially new survivors. I wrote a 2nd book recently. About weight loss and weight lifting, 2017. It has been 11 1/2 years since my emergency surgeries. I am developing size and strength, yet maintianing my weight. Here is the book and I can send you pics to a site that allows attachments, if you’d like. Life goes on. Best to always. Scott Pribyl. (Maybe this would inspire some of your readers). I also will be doing public speaking across USA and Canada soon- trying to give inspiration and motivation for people with AD, or ANY tough Life challenge- Divorce, Job Loss, Illness, Financial Loss, etc.- unfortunately, I’ve been though all of this and a lot of people are hurting. I was 53 when my 3 dissections occurred Jan. 28, 2008- 11 1/2 years ago. In many ways I am healthier than ever. Hope you are as well!! Hang in there my friend! Here is the link to new book:
Scott Pribyl
1342 Shirley St
Green Bay, WI 54304
920.819.8023 and

Joyce Olaves-59

Name: Joyce Olaves
Age at time of Dissection: 59
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 4 January 2014
Tell Us Your Story:

It was January 4, 2014, and a pretty normal Saturday in Tallahassee for me. I worked around the house and ran a few errands. I didn’t really feel any different than I did any other Saturday. In the afternoon, my husband was gone to work on one of our rental properties that we own and I did laundry, etc. Around 4:30 he got home and we decided to go out to dinner. I had lost a bet with him and I was buying dinner. The restaurant was only about a mile and a half from where we live so we were there before 5:00. During dinner, I mentioned that my stomach hurt a little bit—an unusual type of pain. That pain passed and we finished dinner, paid, and walked to the car. I was not in pain at the time but I felt explainabley different.

Once in the car, I suggested to my husband that we drive the couple of miles to the grocery store to get groceries for the week. We drove less than a half mile down the road when a pain rolled through my chest and all the way down into my legs. This happened twice and my legs felt really weak. I also cannot explain the feeling of doom that I had but I did not express that to my husband. My husband teaches some first aid classes and a class about responding to emergencies so he felt something was unusually wrong and decided then that we would go to the doctor. He quickly turned the car around and took me to a walk-in clinic which happened to be right next to the restaurant where we had eaten. We both got out of the car and walked to the clinic door. Fortunately, the walk-in clinic was closed because they likely would not have been able to diagnose me or would have sent me home.

My husband then said we were going to the new emergency room that is about three miles back in the other direction into the city. Before we got there (approximately 3-4 minute drive as my husband was speeding) the vision in my right eye was blotchy. It was like I was having a migraine aura, but it was only one eye. When we got to the emergency room and walked in I was not in any pain that I remember and really thought they would be sending me home later. This emergency center is much newer and had not been open for long—maybe a year or less.

It is not attached to the hospital either so it had not yet reached the volume seen at the other emergency room at the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. They tended to me almost immediately. This was around 6 PM and the timing of the rest was kind of a blur. I don’t remember much except I remember talking to the doctor and he told me that my EKG was normal and probably told me more than that but that because of my visual disturbances they may want to do a CT scan. A nurse gave me a couple of baby aspirins, too.

I remember going in for the CT scan and a while later the same doctor (who was their head of emergency medicine for Tallahassee Memorial Hospital) told me that it was a good thing I came into the emergency room and that they had determined the problem and that it was very serious. He told me I had an aortic dissection and tried to explain to me what that was. He said I would need immediate surgery. He continued to tell me the ambulance was pulling into the bay to take me to the hospital and that the surgical team had already been contacted and were on their way to the hospital for my surgery.

Earlier I would not allow my husband (Jorge) to call my two grown children until we knew what was wrong. I figured I would be going home. When we got the news about my problem, I could see the panic in his face. He got on the phone immediately and reached my son, Jamey. Even though Jamey is a police officer and it is rare that he has a Saturday evening off because of either his regular job or his extra duty jobs, he was home and Jorge got him on the phone. Jorge told him what was going on.

Jorge followed the ambulance to the hospital, and by the time the ambulance and Jorge got there, Jamey was there, too. Jamey had called my daughter (Laura) during his drive across town to the hospital. She was out of town in Orlando and I guess I spoke to her on the phone at some point before my surgery but I don’t remember that. I remember meeting the anesthesiologist when I got to the hospital and the last thing I remember was Jamey telling me, “Mom, everything is going to be alright.” I also have a memory of both Jorge and Jamey at my side but I thought I was sitting on a bench with one of them on each side of me. They told me later that I was being prepared for surgery and that the doctors had to kick them out so they could get started with the surgery.

At that time, I didn’t know that Jamey and Jorge had been told that 50% of those who have this problem never make it to surgery and then 50% of those who have surgery don’t survive. This was way more serious than I knew at the time. I guess that, too, was a blessing. Jamey later told me that my surgeon, Dr. Mohamed said I had a 70% chance of surviving the surgery.

Dr. Mohamed said the surgery was 5 hours long and that they were very pleased with that. I had an aneurysm near my heart which had ruptured by the time they opened me up and he had to replace the piece of my aorta from the heart to the arch and repair my aortic valve as well. It was a very long night for my family because I went into surgery around 10:00 PM and with the surgery and the time Dr. Mohamed spent observing me he came out at 5 AM. I had a leaking valve and he wanted to make sure it functioned alright so in addition to the surgery, he spent a good bit of time observing me. I guess Laura had arrived from Orlando around 2:30 AM from Orlando while I was in surgery.

I spent 9 days in the hospital with the first two in ICU. I do not remember much in ICU during those two days other than some bits and pieces. I became fully alert the morning that they were moving me from the ICU to the cardiac care unit. I had all the IVs, the oxygen tubes, and the chest tubes. The chest tubes were what bothered me the most. I was expected to get up and walk several times a day and, while I didn’t mind that, it was such a hassle with all the equipment attached. At one point, the chest tubes were not draining as the doctor had hoped so I was given some steroids which then kept me awake and jittery. I was getting no sleep and that made me very crabby so my cardiologist prescribed Ambien. I had adverse reaction and tried to remove my chest tubes myself during that night. Someone had spent the night with me every night and Jorge was spending the night with me so he stopped me but apparently he had to hold me down while he yelled for the nurse who the
n handcuffed me to the bed. No more Ambien for me.

During one of my CT scans, it was also found that I had a nodule on my thyroid. It was biopsied while I was in the hospital and was benign. A subsequent ultrasound was done on it but my regular doctor said it had grown slightly. I did another test where I swallowed the iodine and they measure the radioactivity and found the nodule was “cold” which means there is still a chance it could be cancer, but all indications are that is not. I have had another follow-up ultrasound but have not yet heard the results. If it has continued to grow, we will decide what to do from there. Thyroid cancer is usually very slow growing and so to wait is not all that serious. The last time I saw the doctor for it, he said all indications were that it was not cancer, but we still aren’t sure.

Other than that, my stay in the hospital was pretty calm. I hated being in bed because I have back problems so I had back pain from having to stay in bed so much. I tried to walk several times a day, but with the chest tubes and the heart monitor I had to haul around, that was no fun and I was pretty weak so it wore me out quickly. You know that you are getting better when you start bugging the doctor to let you go home. They wouldn’t let me go until I had the chest tubes removed for 24 hours so, of course, then the milestone became when I could get the tubes out.

The tubes came out on January 12 and I was released from the hospital on January 13, 2014. I had to take two 100 mg of metoprolol tartarate (AM and PM), 325 Ecotrin aspirin, 25 mg of losartan, and 20 mg of simvastatin daily. My one year anniversary is coming in a few days and I have gotten back most of my strength. Walks are now pleasurable again and not a chore. My medicine has been reduced to two 50 mg of metoprolol tartarate (AM and PM), two low dose (81mg) of aspirin, the losartan increased to 50 mg, and 20 mg of simvastatin daily. My cardiologist tried to reduce my metoprolol to 25 mg twice a day but my bp got out of whack immediately so he bumped it back to two 50 mg pills again and increased my losartan.

I did have one bump in the road. January 28, 2014, I woke with pain in my left leg and then I got some numbness in my foot. Jorge drove me to the emergency room at the hospital this time because I told him I didn’t want to have another ambulance ride and, just in case I had to stay in the hospital, I would already be there. The numbness was later determined by the neurologist not to be related but was likely due to a pinched nerve. However, the doctors found that my pulse in the left leg was not very strong and not the same as my right leg so I was admitted to the hospital for a couple of days for observation. Unfortunately, the hospital had no rooms available so I spent most of the first day in the emergency room area. Eventually that evening I was moved to a transitional room where I stayed for a couple of days before being sent home again. No real cause was determined except that it may have been a small blood clot that the body was trying to absorb. Since the pulse was back to normal a couple of weeks later when I had a follow-up with Dr. Mohamed (my surgeon), it was no longer an issue.

One problem that has gotten better but not resolved is my migraine auras. Before having to go on all these medicines, I only took a probiotic daily and no other medicines and my migraine auras were about one every three months or so. When I got out of the hospital, they were daily and sometimes more than once daily. They decreased after the blood pressure was reduced to about 4 times a week. Now they are sporadic. Sometimes I don’t have one for 10 days or more but then they come back and I might have 2-3 in a week. My cardiologist thinks I need to see a neurologist, but I wanted to see if the migraines decreased after the reduced dosage of metoprolol, even though I read that it is sometimes used to prevent migraines. The good thing is I don’t actually get the headache except on rare occasions but the auras interrupt my work and my life.

I have been told by a number of doctors and nurses how fortunate I was to have survived this and that because I was in good physical shape that certainly helped me to survive it. I am about 5’9 1/2” tall with a BM in the normal range. I eat and live a pretty healthy lifestyle (lots of fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy, whole grains, not much red meat, etc.). Because Dr. Mohamed’s report revealed that the aneurysm had actually burst by the time my chest was cracked, I really dodged a bullet.

Now that nearly a year has passed, I am feeling more normal but I still wouldn’t say that I am 100%. I am not able to be as active as I was before this all happened because I tire more easily.

Darrell Adkins-52

Name: Darrell Adkins
Age at time of Dissection: 52
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 10 January 2010
Tell Us Your Story:

I was a high school basketball referee, played weekly and underwent regular checkups, stress tests, etc as I was a Security Police Officer. I was in the top 10 in all the health tests. I had no warning whatsoever and no one in my family had anything like this happen to them. One morning I was at home and my wife had put on a pot of vegetable soup.

We sat down and drafted our will which we had put off forever, It had snowed and I had my truck at the top of the hill. It was clearing so I went to get the truck. As I pulled in front of the house I felt this horrendous pain in my chest and back, I laid on the horn and started screaming to my wife heart attack 911, heart attack 911. The ambulance couldn’t get to me so they came in a 4 wheel drive truck. They were trying to figure how to get me to the truck and the pain was so bad I said get out of my way I’ll get to the truck. The driver had to put my head in his lap as I was bent over in pain. They got me to the ambulance and told me to lie on the bed. I said I couldn’t and they said the ambulance would not move until I did.

When I laid down I lost all feeling in my left leg. By the time I got to the hospital I had no feeling in either leg. They rushed me to do a CT scan. Next thing I remember I was in a room and just hoping my son got there before I died. A doctor came into the room and said It is not a heart attack it is an aortic dissection and the worst I have ever seen. I was given my last rights as I had a 2% chance of survival. My family got there as well as my son and I was ok with dying. I told each of them what I wanted them to do and I was sorry they couldn’t go with me. We started praying and then this guy walked into the room and said hello I am Dr George Pleagus and I am going to save this mans life. 9 1/2 hours of surgery later I am being pushed down a corridor and I asked the guy is this heaven he said no its the hospital.

I said are we going to surgery and he said you are going to recovery. I said you mean I lived? he said yes so I said pinch me. I was in the hospital for a week the first time but kept losing weight I couldn’t keep anything down. I had lost the use of one kidney and one of my stints blocks the blood flow to my left arm. After several months and the loss of about 50 lbs, I was 175 when it happened, I changed my kidney doctor because I was told the one I had over medicated (I was on 16 pills) My new doctor checked on me in the hospital, I had been there a week she immediately said I had thrush and began the treatment. (changed my med to 4 pills) I started gaining my weight and eating almost immediately.

I was off work for 6 months, it has been four years now and I play am back playing basketball, my left arm still gets weak if I use it too much but I can play golf, fish (No cranking) etc. I have memory problems since the surgery and was recently diagnosed with Cerebral Amaloid Angopathy (brain bleeds). I don’t think I will be able to work much longer as it affects my work. I am truly blessed to be here. I have not changed my diet (I know I should) I now weigh 175 most of it in front of me. I recently had a beautiful granddaughter named Kyliana who just started crawling. I thank God for allowing me the time I have had here and although I hope to live many more years I am ready when it is my time. Remember only God knows when you will get the opportunity to meet his son so keep your head up and enjoy life.

William Spofford-52

Name: William Spofford
Age at time of Dissection: 52
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 30 December 1995
Tell Us Your Story:

On December 30, 1995 I was working on the ceiling in my basement when I felt something break in my chest. I was on a ladder and was able to climb down and over to the staircase going up. I called up to my daughter to call 911 and was able to climb the stairs up to the main floor.

I was able to get to the sofa to sit down. Don’t remember much after that, but did hear the sirens for the emergency squad. My wife told me later that she followed them to the house. The next thing I remember was waking up the next day in a room with bells going off almost constantly from all of the lines going into me. My wife told me later that the Hospital had contacted Dr. John Armitage when they could not decide what had happened to me and he recognized I had had an aortic dissection.

At the time, he was one of a few surgeons in the country that had been successful in treating this condition. He was able to treat the ascending tear successfully. Since then I have had multiple surgeries, with dates, surgeons and hospitals listed below. I have had all of the aorta repaired except the top arch.

12/31/95 Ascending Type A Aorta Disection repair by Dr. John Armitage at Mary Washington Hospital, Fredericksburg, VA.

1/12/96 Pericardial Drainage & Effusion by Dr. John Armitage at Mary Washington Hospital, Fredericksburg, VA.

3/13/96 Proximal Descending Aorta Repair & Rt. Side Stroke by Dr. John Armitage at Mary Washington Hospital, Fredericksburg, VA.

3/28/96 Tracheotomy at Mary Washington Hospital, Fredericksburg, VA.

10/28/98 Blood Clot Removal Right. Arm by Dr. William Sasser, Mary Washington Hospital, Fredericksburg, VA.

4/18/05 Thoracoabdominal Aortic Repair by Dr. Joseph Coselli, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.

6/3/09 Blood Clot Removal Left Arm and shoulder bypass by Dr. Reid W. Tribble, Columbia Heart Hospital.

1/7/10 Right iliac artery aneurysm stent by Dr. Joseph Coselli, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.

3/14/12 Right iliac hernia repair by Dr. Martin C. Mirra, Baptist Hospital outpatient, Columbia, SC

Tom Mohr-51

Name: Tom mohr
Age at time of Dissection: 51
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 19 July 2012
Tell Us Your Story:

Thoracic aortic dissection type a.
Replaced aortic valve with a pig valve.
10 hour surgery rebuilt the ascending aorta and strengthen the 3 veins to the brain.Damage to the nerves on my spine due to lack of oxygen during the dissection. Nerve damage all the way down both sides of my legs. Like thousands of needles being stuck on my legs.

Some days it feels like someone is holding me back as I walk, usually on my left side.
I take 13 medications. For blood pressure and I take gabapentin to dull the pain on my legs and I take one tramadol 50mg. Every 6 hours to keep the pain in Check.
I was very blessed by God to make it..I received my last rights. Because it turned into one large an your ism.
I have short term memory loss and I cannot make it , only about a half day at work. Before my body starts to shut down.its been 18 months

I’m know 53, and struggling with the idea of Applying for disability. I can walk 3 to 5 miles a day. But I can’t sit for more than a half hour before my legs really start to hurt. Also after speaking for 15 minuts straight. I’m done for the day.tired dizzy no energy.

I was a successful executive and know here’s the new me.
But I can’t get anyone to answer, does the government approve thoracic aortic dissection survivors, with pig valves and neurological nerve damage ???? Before I spend weeks filling out paperwork

Steve Baker-53

Name: Steve Baker
Age at time of Dissection: 53
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 23 April 2013
Tell Us Your Story:

I am a sales manager for a large automation firm so I travel throughout my territory to support the guys that work for me.I was in Jacksonville, FL to work with one of my team and had checked into my hotel for the night. After settling in to what seemed would be another routine evening, I suddenly felt a numbing, tingling sensation down my back into my right leg. I also had some tightness in my neck and knew that something was wrong.

I waited for a few minutes to see if the symptoms would subside but they did not. Having a sense of impending doom, I packed up my suitcase and headed down to the hotel lobby to call 911. The ambulance arrived shortly after and I described my symptoms to the EMS crew. I had also contacted my wife and explained the situation to her not knowing exactly what was going on. I was thinking stroke or heart attack but had no pain to speak of.

Once arriving at the hospital ER, X-rays were taken and an evaluation was made that I should go to their sister hospital for a CT scan and have their cardiac unit available if needed.After being transported to the sister facility and receiving the CT scan, it was determined that I had an ascending aortic dissection and would require emergency surgery. My wife showed up just prior to me being sent to the OR and I told her that I loved her and was sorry for making her drive up to Jacksonville. The surgery went well and I was kept in a drug induced coma for a couple of days while on the ventilator. Total time in the hospital was 10 day from surgery to release.

Then the fun started. Working my way back to a normal existence. I must mention that I am a avid cyclist and participate in both road & mountain bike events. That part of my life has been greatly impacted and has been difficult for me to come to grips with. I picked a cardiologist in my area and started the process of long term treatment for my condition. I eventually got back to working and riding but at a reduced level due to the heart medication.

After nine months, my doctor scheduled a CT scan to check up on the repair and make sure all was going well with my healing.
When to results came back, I was floored by the findings. The medical staff had determined that my dissection had continued all the way down to my illiac arteries and the false lumen was actively supplying blood flow to my left renal artery and kidney and that the false lumen was the same size as the true lumen!

I was stunned and not sure what to think. I was just coming to grips with my new reality then, WHAM! I get hit with this news. I was both scared and angry that this was happening to me again after thinking I was through with dealing with the initial dissection.

I met with a thoracic surgeon to get a prognosis and find out where I go from here. Since the situation is “chronic” at this point, no surgery will be done unless it becomes an emergency situation. He has asked that I scale back my cycling activities and do no mountain biking until after my next scan in six months. I’m still trying to come to terms with this new revelation and not sure how to mentally accept it and deal with the impact that it has had on my life.

I’m still grieving for my old life and working on setting new goals based on my “new reality”. I will continue to ride and participate in some charity events but not as vigorously a I used to. Hopefully in the next six months I’ll get the green light to return to mountain biking. My take on the whole thing is this: I can die on the couch or I can die on the bike. I think I’ll choose the latter.

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