Name: Tase Evans
Age at time of Dissection: 36
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 14 December 2011
Tell Us Your Story:
A little background first. I was a pilot in my 20’s, working on an Airline Transport rating in college when I was first diagnosed with high blood pressure. The diagnosis ended my flying career before it really started.
I got depressed and dropped out of school, and kept my college job at a grocery store for much longer than I ever intended. Even at full-time with decent health and prescription coverage, I found it hard to keep up with my blood pressure.
My work schedule was different every week, and I’d miss appointments which meant I’d run out of my meds. Doctor would drop me for missing appointments and it’d take months to get a new Doctor. Really, I never took high blood pressure seriously. I was also very overweight and had untreated, un-diagnosed, sleep apenia.
I also live in Chillicothe, Ohio. A small town of 22k people; 60 miles due south of Columbus.
Tuesday, December 13th was a pretty good day. I remember not wanting to murder my co-workers, which was a good sign. That night my wife and I joined my parents, my brother and his wife for dinner at a nice restaurant and learned I had a niece or nephew on the way. All in all a good day.
The next day, I was scheduled to be at work at 6am, the opening shift. I woke up shortly before 4am, needing to pee, an hour before the alarm was set. After I did my business, I returned to sit on the edge of my bed and felt a sudden, severe pain in my chest.
I woke my wife, whom had just received her nursing license two months ago, and told her about the pain in my chest that ran down my left arm. That I was sweating, and also had a pain located between my groin and belly button. That last symptom confused her but all the rest told her “Heart Attack”, and she called 911.
We got dressed, and walked down stairs to meet the ambulance. By the time EMTs arrived, I was having difficulty walking. By the time I arrived at the hospital, five miles away, I was unable to move my legs.
I remember bits and pieces of the next 24 hours. My wife and my parents filled in some of the holes, but I don’t like to ask them about it anymore. The first day at Adena Regional Medical Center were horrible. It was after 12 Noon before anybody gave me something for pain, I was in agony for hours. I’d always had a high pain tolerance, I rated a broken arm as a 7 in high school, but now I’m telling them I’m 15 and a half on a scale of 1 – 10. I was finally given a single 5mg tablet of hydrocodone.
Around 3pm, I’m taken for an x-ray. Surprise, surprise, they found nothing. A doctor came to tell my family the results of the x-ray, sat on the edge of the bed, ignoring me and told my wife they found nothing, then asked how I got around at home. Her response:
“What do you mean? He WALKED TO THE AMBULANCE. THIS IS PART OF THE PROBLEM!”
At 4:30 I’m taken for a Lumbar Puncture. I’m not a small man. Six foot four and 350lbs. I’m moved by a gurney (not my room bed) to a room where I was transferred to a tiny table for the LP, and back to a gurney for my next trip across the hospital for a CT scan. With Radiology in sight, they couldn’t fit my gurney around a corner, it was too wide! So they took me back to the LP procedure room, transferred back to the tiny table, and back across the hospital again, where Nurse Ratchet couldn’t start an IV to save her life, but she knew how to dig. And when she gave up on the IV, they gave up on the CT scan!!!
I don’t remember the MRI at all, but that was when they finally found the dissection. It began in the ascending aortia, and ran all the way to the illiac crest. By this time, 7pm, the weather had changed, the sun had set and no air-ambulances were flying. A doctor (the same one as before) told my father he didn’t think I’d survive a flight to Columbus anyway, and it’d be a miracle if I survived the ambulance trip.
I did survive the ambulance trip, but that alone didn’t improve my odds. The team at Ohio State University’s Ross Heart Hospital didn’t sugar coat things. I was given less than a 5% chance of survival. But a wonderful team of surgeons, including Dr. Jean Starr and Dr. Michael Go, helped me survive every step of the way.
I had several severe complications, which included repertory failure, liver failure, chronic kidney failure, “Raging Pneumonia”, a total blockage of the illiac arteries, heparin-induced Thrombocytopenia, and an increase in abdominal spinal fluid(the reason I couldn’t walk).
I spent a total of 90 days in the hospital where I vowed never to “Tell them No!” What ever test they wanted, what ever they wanted me to do in rehab, I’d never say no. I’ve had (in no particular order) three weeks of dialysis, three blood transfusions, three intubations, two weeks on lumbar drain, and three weeks of physical rehab learning to walk again.
And today, I still wake up above the ground, thanking God for the opportunity. I have bi-lateral Illiac stents, continuing chronic kidney failure (Staged 3a) and non-diabetic neuropathy / partial-paralysis of my left leg.
Some of my memories of my time in the hospital are horrible. I will never willingly return to Adena Regional Medical Center. Some are funny. I remember being told that Aortic Dissection was the cause of death for John Ritter and Lucile Ball, and that night laying awake watching TV, but the only things on were infomercials, I Love Lucy, and Three’s Company…
And then there are memories caused by the cocktail of medications I was on too embarrassing to share.
And my mother remembers looking for information on Dissections online, looking for survivors stories to share with me while I was in the hospital. And only finding stories of those who weren’t so lucky.
So thank you for hosting this site.