Category: Thirties


Age at time of Dissection: 35
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 30 June 2013
Tell Us Your Story:

It was a normal routine Sunday till 9 pm. I had just finished my dinner and about get up from my table when the pain started in my back . The pain was located between the scapula.It soon started increasing and a sensation of something tearing down was felt.Since I am a qualified Homeopathic practioneer and already lost my elder brother to this disease i.e. aortic dissection in 2002 at the age of 25. It took me just few minutes to realize that it is dissection.

I told my parents that this pain may be due to dissection. for both of them it was once again the same old time of mental trauma which they had earlier gone through when my brother died.Our neighbors are really very nice they took me GMSH SECTOR 16 Chandigarh. There I told the likely cause of pain along with medical history. ECG was done, Sublingual medicine was to minimize the chances of cardiac arrest along with 2-3 injections for pain killer.In the meantime I had vomited 4-5 times .

I was sweating profusely along with severe pain and tossing about to get relief. The doctors then referred me to PGIMER Chandigarh for furthur treatment.The doctors at PGI emergency went for CT ANGIO which confirmed the dissection.It was type A and B dissection and was obstructing the coronary artery.I was at higher risk of getting a cardiac arrest due to blockage of the artery.

I then called My father’s cardio thoracic surgeon Dr RANA SANDIP SINGH at his place.It was already 7 in morning the next day 1/07/13. He asked me what is wrong , Is my dad is alright as my father had been operated upon for aortic aneurysm at the sinus as well as at ascending aorta. I told him about the whole episode, he immediately asked his subordinates to make arrangements to shift me to CCu and prepare me for surgery.

He was there by my side before i reached CCU He told my parents that I will be undergoing a massive surgery and this one is going to be a complicated one and there are bleak chances that she will survive.I still remember the time it was 11 am and I was shifted to operation theater.

It took more than 12 hours to complete the surgery. My mom told me later after my recovery that it was 1 a.m. when the told her that surgery is over and she will be better and out of CCU after few days. I stayed at the hospital for 40 days. I had few complications post surgery like left lung effusion was not draining, developed hallucinations due anesthesia. MY life have changed since then.

Jeremy Myers-32

Name: Jeremy Myers
Age at time of Dissection: 32
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 22 March 2015
Tell Us Your Story:

I was in the middle of my hitch on an oil=rig. The oilfield was declining quickly so my rig was in the yards and I was spending my days painting over rust. At 3:30 my day was over so I headed over for my daily workout ritual.

I was in the best shape of my life had stopped smoking and started eating right. But during my workout I lost all motivation and decided to go take a shower. I never made it that far. Just as I got the water right and was about to step in it felt like someone just unzipped me.

Immediately my legs started hurting and I was completely lost and confused. I couldn’t collect my thoughts, or really anything for that matter. Luckily enough about the time I felt my legs give way beneath me a Coworker walked into my room saw my current state and got help.

They flew me in to a tiny hospital that diagnosed me with dehydration, and started pumping fluids to me. After 3 bags they they realized something else was wrong mainly because I was exhaling blood. So back on the chopper I went and ended up at oschners in new Orleans.

Ascending and descending aortic dissection. It’s been ten months since the dissection and I’ve had two Stents, lost a kidney, nerve damage on my left side. And have the memory span of goldfish. Don’t know what’s next just lost at the moment.

Tase Evans-36

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:

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.

Alicia Rasmussen-30

Name: Alicia Rasmussen
Age at time of Dissection: 30
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 14 December 2013
Tell Us Your Story: My story begins somewhat like a cheesy horror movie.

It was Friday the 13, 2013 and I was enjoying my works Christmas party. With my candy cane stripped stocking and Elf shoes on, I had just finished dinner when it felt like someone had stabbed me in the chest. I went over to where my husband was and sat beside him, he asked what was wrong and when I told him my chest hurt he suggested it was nothing more than heart burn. As I had just finished a rich Christmas meal including a glass of red wine I agreed. So I sat there, took a Zantac and was sipping on a glass of water waiting for the pain to pass. After about 30 minutes with no change in pain I realized I needed to go to the hospital.

Once at the hospital I was lucky enough to have received medical attention right away. They found that I had an Aortic Dissection, all three stages, and I was rushed to a different hospital where I had emergency open heart surgery on the early hours of the morning of December 14, just 13 days before my 31st birthday.

I was released from the hospital just 6 days after surgery, which was fine by me as I felt home would be better. I got to spend the holidays, and my birthday, at home with my family, very lucky me.

The recovery has been strange to say the least. Most of my body is willing and more than able but my sternum is defiantly not. Now I am just playing the waiting game till I see my Surgeon and Cardiologist.

Oh this thing we call life.

Shawn Fisher-35

Name: Shawn Fisher
Age at time of Dissection: 35
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 16 August 2005
Tell Us Your Story:

Iwork from home and travel for a living mostly driving in the midwest. One morning I was preparing to travel when my customer cancel our appointment at the last minute. I hung up the phone and felt a huge stab literally in my neck. The pain was so strong that i had to sit down. It happened again. I broke out in a cold sweat. My hand and arm began to go numb. I am an ex-Emergency Room nurse and worked open heart surgery immediate recovery intensive care for 4 years as well.

As I lost the ability to move both my right leg and right arm, I called my partner who was in a business meeting and told him to come immediately to pick me up. As my brain raced, I thought I was having as stroke. I did not have the typical stabbing pain in my shoulder or pain in my back. All my symptoms were atypical. I crawled on my left side to the back door of my house. We have a German Shepherd guard dog, I knew the EMS would not be able to get past him.

It was pointless to call the EMS because they would take me to a facility that was close to our house but not able to handle what i thought was a stroke. So, my partner arrived and he took me to a hospital I worked for. The ER is inner city and I am presenting with diaphoresis and numbness as well as somewhat disoriented. Immediately the ER assumed I was a drug user and began asking me a series of questions about what substance I might be using. Of course I am NOT a drug user.

I had no previous health history EXCEPT my father had dies of an aneurysm at the age of 60. I was not thinking AA at that time. I arrived at 1115am in the morning to the ER. They took some blood but never performed a routine drug screen. 2pm that day a surgery resident came to see me and told my partner that there was no surgery today they were going to have pysch evaluate me and instructed my partner to leave.

My EKG was normal but no one bothered to do a CT scan nor did they do bilateral blood pressures or they would have noted the abnormality. By 4pm I was going into DIC (clotting disorder which causes patients to hemorrhage due to depletion of clotting factors.) I was bleeding from just about every orifice. About 5% or less patients dissect their messentary artery.

At 430pm I started to vomit frank blood with clots. The suggestion was made that I might be an alcoholic and they needed to make sure this was not a esophageal varcies so they would do an EGD. After the EGD the GI doctor said order a CT SCan stat with contrast this patient has massive mucosal hemorrhaging from messentary ischemia in the GI tract likely due to dissection.

A CT Scan with contrast and at 630p- 7pm at night they made the decision to transfer me to a Heart Hospital in the city via life flight. My aorta had dissected from the aortic root down and including the illac bifurcation as well as the bilateral renal arteries, bilateral carotid arteries and messentary artery. Torn valve and I was hemorrhaging internally. By this time due to the lack of care and diagnosis, i had lost about 60=70% of my blood volume and was fading fast. I was flown and taken to surgery at 11pm and returned to ICU at 400pm the next day. I spent two weeks completely sedated and paralyzed.

Most everything we see with post operative patients that can go wrong did go wrong for me. I was allergic to heparin and developed HITS Heparin Induced Thrombocytopenia. I showered clots to most of my major organs. Infarcted my spleen and shut my both my liver and kidneys down. They also had missed a large section of bowel which 2 weeks out had become necrotic and gangrenous. At 2 weeks my bowel ruptured and I ended up septic. So for the next two months I was on kidney dialysis and plasmapheresis. Developed MRSA and fungus infection in my lungs. At that time they discovered I also had a clotting disorder called Antiphospholipid Syndrome which only occurs with 4% of the world’s population.

I spent 3 months in ICU and 3 months in rehab. My kidneys did start working as well as my liver at about 2 and half months. They left me open from my sternum to pubic bone for 3 months. No one has an explanation for why the dissection occurred. Completely healthy prior to all of this and now I am at doctor every other month it seems like. I did have to do some physical therapy because I did not eat for 10 weeks and lost 80#’s. I had some muscle atrophy and wasting.

I have done some research and seem to fit the profile for Ehlers-Danlos syndrome which have vascular abnormalities. This is the only thing that seems to correlate with why I had a dissection at such a young age. It was SO difficult being on the other side as a patient ,when for years I had taken care of patients like myself. As a health care professional it also taught me about patients presenting with atypical symptoms.

I am very thankful and lucky to have had a loving family and partner. I was never alone in the hospital or after for more than an hour. Someone was with me every day. Tell your story so others can learn. Maybe you will help that one ER nurse look a little further when a patient presents with symptoms.

Robert Yoho-35

Name: Robert Yoho
Age at time of Dissection: 35
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 15 June 2008
Tell Us Your Story:

In June 2008, I came home from work and went to relax and stretch out on my bed when I felt a pop in my chest. I did not think anything of it at the time, but a few seconds later, my left leg started to go numb. I got up and made my way downstairs to the couch, by this time I had no feeling in my left leg. I had no idea what was going and thought that it might have just been a panic/anxiety attack. After 10-15 minutes of sitting trying to relax, I had some sharp pain shooting up from my left side through my chest. I had no clue what to do, so I yelled for help.

My neighbor heard me and came over to give me a hand. I was taken to the hospital and had emergency surgery to restore blood flow to my leg. a few days later they realized that I had a dissection of my entire aorta. I had a 14 hour surgery to repair the aorta and to replace the valve. I was allergic to heparin when caused a lot of issues during the operation and afterwards I spent 5 1/2 weeks in a coma.

A few years later in the summer of 2011, my health started to go down hill pretty fast. my blood pressure was very low and I had a lump forming on my chest right where I was cut open a few years earlier. Went back to the hospital and was told that I had an infection on the graft and valve.

The first hospital I went to said after 15 days there was nothing they were able to do and I was going to die. After leaving that hospital I went back to the one that originally did my surgery and they said they were not able to do anything but said they knew someplace to send me. I was transferred to the Hospital of the University of PA in Philadelphia where I had a re-do surgery. Have to say that now I am feeling a lot better. I still have some pain from all the operations and I hope to live a long healthy life.

Branden Bloom-32

Name: Mindy/Branden Bloom
Age at time of Dissection: 32
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 19 October 2011
Tell Us Your Story:

Hi, I wanted to share my story of my beautiful Husband, Branden who passed away from his second aortic dissection which involved his ascending aorta this time. I am 32 years old and have 2 kids Kaylee 9 and Madyson 6. We lost my beautiful husband, Branden, on February 28 of this year. He was a wonderful daddy and amazing husband. He was a very hard worker, working at a cabinet place for 12 years. I got to be a stay-at-home mom. Last year I enrolled in college to be a social worker, but since all this I had to stop to take care of him and my family again. Sometimes I don’t know what I will do without him.

He had a long hard health struggle after having 2 aortic dissections. The first one happened on October 19, 2010 and the 2nd which took his life was on February 21 this year. Back in October he was opening the refrigerator door and got a sharp sudden pain in his shoulder blade area. He hunched over on our kitchen table in a great deal of pain. We assumed he pulled a muscle so I rubbed it and he dealt with it over the next couple days. He continued to work with all that pain he had until October 14, he had to pull over because he started getting back spasms that shook his whole body. He pulled over on the highway and waited 30 minuets before coming home, he hasn’t worked since. We decided it was time to go to the ER; they diagnosed him with back pain and sent us home with medication.

That day we went to the chiropractor to see if this would help his pain. After a couple days, the pain just got worse and his right leg would go numb off and on. On the 6th day they messaged his right calf to try and help his leg which was in a lot of pain and completely dumb at all times for 2 days. During the message it hurt even worse, really irritated it. When we got home he couldn’t even walk, he was swarming in circles in our front yard and not even able to really stay awake. I called the chiropractor and asked if this is normal after deep muscle message? He said “No, you need to take him to the ER, sounds like a stroke.” I waited a little because we just went to the ER for this. The chiropractor called back and asked if we left, I said “No” and he said “If you don’t go now I will call 911.” So we went.

Once there his health kept declining, he suddenly had really bad stomach pain to where he was moaning; he was not making much sense and couldn’t stay awake. After being in the ER for 7 hours they finally ordered a CAT scan of his stomach. Branden was in the bathroom trying to have a bowel movement when the doctor came in and said “I found what is wrong.” I wanted to know now but he said we have to wait until Branden was done in the bathroom.

I figured the news is probably not very good news. I will never forget the doctor saying “He is having a descending aortic dissection.” I ran to the computers there in the hospital to look it up and started to cry. Branden got transferred to our Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls and had a 6 hour surgery to repair his aorta. The aorta, our main vessel in our body has 2 layers and the inner layer split so blood started going between those layers and cutting off blood supply elsewhere. We kissed, hugged and said our goodbyes just in case.

When he woke up he was screaming in pain in stomach still so they had to do another 7 hour surgery because blood flow was still not going to the stomach. We found out the reason it hurt so much at the chiropractor was due to no blood flow to the legs. Also, the doctor said he was spinning around and acting goofy in our yard because he was dying. I also found out this is what John Rider died from immediately. Branden had no blood flow from waist down for 5 days! He lost his right kidney, part of intestines but his leg was saved. After the second surgery they put him in a medical induced coma to rest. 5 days later he woke up but was not his normal self. After 12 days of recovery in the Heart Hospital he was sent home.

After being home for 5 days he had to be re admitted because the wound became infected and he got an infection in his blood stream. Another surgery to remove infection and a vacuum seal to clean out the infection and he was home again. During the next 3 months we went to a wound clinic to get the bandages cleaned. He also had physical therapy 3 times per week. He was very weak could not do much but was slowly recovering.

During the last 2 weeks of his life he was starting to look really white again and even weaker. He started canceling physical therapy because it was too much on him. I wish we would have gone to doctors. On Feb 21 we just got home from a great weekend together him, and our girls and me. We stayed in a hotel, swam, and had a blast. On Monday we got groceries and Branden was putting them away while I picked up upstairs. I came down and he was laying on the living room floor I asked him what was wrong and he said “I don’t know I got a sharp pain in my ear that went down to my throat and I got dizzy.” So I told him to lie down while I finished upstairs. When I got down him and my daughter Kaylee were taking out the trash he said he felt better. Kaylee came back in but Branden wasn’t there. I asked “Where is daddy?” she said “He’s coming, I raced him and won.” So I waited a few minuets and asked Kaylee to make sure he was coming and she said “Mom, daddy fell!” I ran outside a nd Branden was on the ground in snow saying he could not get up, it hurts again.

I called 911 and it took them 40 minuets to get to our town outside of Sioux Falls! Once in the hospital ER his blood pressure was only 60/40 and they were running IV bags through him fast to raise it. They said he had very weak pulse in the right arm and asked me if he has always had a bad heart murmur? I said “No, he never has” so they ordered a cat scan and found a ascending dissection possibly up to his brain this time.

He was transferred than to our heart hospital again. We got to kiss and hug and say our goodbyes and love you because we knew this could be the last time. The doctor had to do open heart surgery and run the bypass machine to stop his heart. It was a long 8 hour surgery and he lived. The next day into the night he was wiled trying to wake up and pull stuff out of him. That next night they sedated him to rest. The next morning he was not moving any body parts and his head was stuck looking right. The doctor said he was worried about his brain. They did a CAT scan and found he had a massive stroke in his cerebellum and part of brain stem. They couldn’t tell us how much of the brain stem was involved because CAT scan doesn’t show that good. He had pacemaker wires in his chest so they couldn’t do a MRI which would tell us how bad it was.

He got transferred again to out hospital and put in the ICU which was Feb 23rd. On February 25th we had a big meeting with doctors and they all said he will never come out of this he is to sick. He will never be the same person you knew. We decided to have another palliative care meeting on Monday and we would decide what we would do. Over the weekend he just went downhill. He got a blood clot in the right arm, pneumonia, acute respiratory distress, couldn’t regulate his temperature it kept falling, no gag reflexes, no pupil dilation and he was a very sick man. On Monday we decided Friday we would let him go. That Friday the whole family was there and we took the ventilator off of him. I crawled in bed with him and held him as he passed away. I knew it was the right choice because it took 6 minuets for him to pass only.

There was no autopsy done because they knew what he died from. For the past 15 years I’ve known him we have tried to get answers on the scary, rare health issues they have. I wanted his aorta looked at under microscope but all they came up with is it dissected. His dad was diagnosed with some form of marfans syndrome but all the doctors here don’t think that’s what Branden had. He was tall and skinny, long fingers and toes, family history and flat footed but he was not flexible, in fact he was stiff almost, and his arm length did not measure longer than his body.

I need answers! I have 2 little girls left here for me to take care of and I have not gotten any answers on what he and his dad had. Another thing the doctors said Branden’s aorta was not big, it was normal in size with both dissections. It’s all very strange and scary. They both died so young and both had 2 separate aortic dissections, I have never heard of that. I hope you can help my family!

Contact Mindy

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Diego Roswell-37

Name: Diego Roswell
Age at time of Dissection: 37
Type of Dissection:Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 2 March 1998
Tell Us Your Story:

Today is the 13th anniversary of my dissection. I am posting my story because I don’t know how much time I may have left.

March 2, 1998 I was getting ready for work when I felt a stabbing pain in my chest immediately followed by dizziness. Fortunately there was an old fashioned wall phone nearby that I grabbed on my way to the floor and dialed 911. The paramedics arrived quickly and I knew it was an aortic dissection since I had been diagnosed with the Marfan Syndrome and was in fact on an beta blocker at the time, my cardiologist had foretold of this day, and I just knew. Unfortunately I was also a recovering alcoholic/addict and had used a bit of methamphetamine the night before. I told the police and nurse about the illicit drugs so they could perhaps save my life – in retrospect, it was the biggest mistake of my life (second only to using the drugs in the first place). You see, I was a high school teacher at the time and had been given the substance by a student. I knew my career was over, but was more worried about the other kids that might OD from the drug if there was something wrong wit h it, you see I was lying there on the floor dying at the time. On arrival to the local public hospital, of course, no one knew what to do with me. I was delirious.

My wife came to the public hospital as the nurses and doctors were running around “looking for a surgeon” to “operate” on me. She got me out of there with a little help from my cardiologist and Dr. Craig Miller at Stanford Hospital – soon I was airborne on a helicopter (wow a helicopter ride and I can’t even remember it) to Stanford Hospital. It was like God had lined everything up for me. Dr. Miller ( a hard guy to get a hold of) was available to do my surgery (a very complicated one) my cardiologist was available to intervene at the public hospital – (or I would no doubt be dead).

The angels were with me that day and night as Dr. Miller needed to keep me in a comatose state and open me up several times to repair an ascending and descending aortic dissection. Aortic valve replacement surgery with arch replacement. Lots and lots of bleeding. I woke up a few times (I am told) and tore off IVs and was combative, despite having had open heart surgery. I was told that I had psychotic episodes and basically was freaking out after the surgery.

I woke up 21 days later to see a formerly 220 lb man standing in front of the mirror weighing 140 lbs and looking like a concentration camp survivor. I could walk, barely. The psychiatric staff wanted my wife to commit me to their psych ward.

I left the hospital AMA immediately.

13 years later, several hospitalizations later (for stroke, knee surgery, angiogram, colon ulcer blood infection, cerebral hemorrhage) I am still fighting the social security administration for disability benefits. I am due in court soon for the final decision.

Thank you Jesus for my life.

My advice to Marfan patients: take your beta blockers and do the suggested voluntary heart valve surgery, don’t wait for a dissection.


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Joe Brielmaier-39

Name: Joe Brielmaier
Age at time of Dissection: 39
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 26 July 2008
Tell Us Your Story:

At the time of my aortic dissection, I only had one previous surgery, on my knee a year before this happened. I was at the time 39 years old, no previous heart problems, no family history of heart problems, and in relatively good shape.

My wife and I were on a long walk, working up for a trip to the Grand Canyon, where we were planning on hiking and camping for days. Thank god this didn’t happen on that trip, I wouldn’t be here today to tell this story.

During this walk Saturday July 26th, a couple of hours into it, I felt a warm sensation in my neck. I sat down to catch my breath and hope this went away. After a couple of minutes, I stood up and felt something move down my abdomen. I sat down again and tried to get up at that time my left leg went numb. My wife and I were worried, but not overly scared. She ran the mile and a half home to get the car, I couldn’t walk. We went home and I was uncomfortable, not in any pain, so I took some antacids, thinking it was heart burn, I continued to be uncomfortable. We then went to the ER. While there, since I didn’t have chest pains, I wasn’t rushed in. Once in an examine room, I was feeling more discomfort, mainly in the abdomen.

It took at least 45 minutes for the ER doctor to diagnose the dissection, by finding different pulses in each of my feet. I was rushed to get a CT and the dissection was then discovered. There wasn’t a surgeon at this small community hospital to do the surgery, so they had to get on the phone and go down the list, on a Saturday night, to find a hospital to take me. Finally finding one, I was transported by ambulance; I remember traveling as the sun was setting on Seattle.

I remember getting to the hospital and being taken to the floor where the surgeon was waiting, I remember signing something and the surgeon explaining to me what was going to happen and if I understood. I also remember handing my wedding ring over to my wife.

The surgery was difficult, I read the op-report months after surgery. My tare was from the ascending aorta, just above the aortic valve and continued down the abdomen and into the iliacs. I had a Dacron graft placed in the ascending aorta, and because the difficulty of the surgery, they couldn’t fix the aortic valve, it had to wait until I was stronger. The 5 days following the surgery were very difficult, this was a traumatic surgery, and I will never forget the nurses and doctors who took care of me that week.

At home, during my recovery walks, I noticed my left leg was a little numb behind me knee, it was discovered that my blood flow was compromised and a tare was found in my iliac. So two months after my open heart surgery, I had a surgery to put stents into the iliacs to open the blood flow.

9 months after the open heart surgery, and after having a reoccurring fever, an infection was found around the graft site. It was decided that another surgery was necessary. I was flown to the Cleveland Clinic, from Seattle; I remained at the Cleveland Clinic having tests run to prepare for another open heart surgery to replace the graft and the aortic valve. A homo graft replaced the Dacron graft and bovine valve replaced my damaged aortic valve. I was very lucky to be at the Cleveland Clinic and to have Dr. Lars Svensson as my surgeon, he was very confident; I had no worries about this procedure. My recovery was smooth and painless.

Over a year and a half after my last surgery, I haven’t had any problems or complications. I have an abdominal ultrasound done every six months to check on the stents in the iliacs and to monitor the abdominal aorta. I also have an echocardiogram done every six months to monitor the graft in the ascending aorta.

I have altered my diet, and have increased my cardiovascular exercise. I don’t know what the future holds for me, I do know since I’m relatively young; I will have at least one, maybe more surgeries to replace my aortic valve. I hope for technological advances to make these procedures less invasive than they currently are.

My life has changed forever, I don’t think they way I did, I don’t act the way I did, I take each day as it comes, or at least I try, I don’t take life for granted anymore.

Contact Joe

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Stephan Brown-39

Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending Date of Aortic Dissection: 22 March 2003

Tell Us Your Story:

I don’t really know how to type and I’m no writer but here we go. In march 2003 on a Sunday afternoon me and my 7 year old son were sitting in the living room playing video games. When out of nowhere i got the most severe burning/tearing pain in my chest.I immediately started vomiting and my vision went back and forth from blurry to double. My girlfriend at the time called 911.I was sitting on the front porch when the ambulance arrived.They took my vitals and an EKG.

Next they started asking what my symptoms were and what i had done that afternoon. After explaining my day to them i was given 3 options.1 they take me to the hospital 2 i take myself to the hospital or 3 relax,take a deep breath and go to bed”In my professional opinion you have gas”. I chose 3 and after hours of lying in the fetal position in agony decided to take myself to the emergency room. WEST SIDE REGIONAL HOSPITAL.

Now in the emergency room vomiting and complaining of chest pain the doctor orders a chest x-ray.Nothing shows up.I’m admitted at 1:AM Monday morning.All that day that i can remember is pain and tests but to the doctor there was nothing wrong with me.I was told that if i held my dinner down i would be sent home in the morning.Dinner came back up.

Tuesday morning the staff doctor ordered an exploratory sonogram. The tech. started be looking around my abdomen.(was told that was because of all the vomiting)She saw nothing.She lubed up the machine and proceeded to run it up over my chest.The one thing i will never forget about that experience was the look of fear in her eyes and how fast she dropped that machine to grab a phone and was screaming we have a problem.Next thing i remember is a person running down the hall next to my bed telling me i need to sign all these papers.I asked what for? He told me so we can save your life.

Came to 3 days later with tubes and wire coming out of my chest,nose and mouth.Was told i had an aortic root repair /dissection/aneurysm and a saint jude valve replacement.32 years old surgeon was William Bailey never met the man but i’d like to say thank you! 18 days in the hospital and 3 months of recovery and life went on.

Lets fast forward to April 18 2010 now 39 years old.Times have changed ,business is tougher and i found my self working a lot harder.On Saturday the 17 i came home from work with extreme back pain.Sunday the 18 i woke up and had my now wife take me to the emergency room.At first i saw a nurse practitioner who was going to send me home a narcotic pain killer as she could tell by looking at me that my pain was from my occupation (I’m a tile contractor).She went to check with the doctor in charge who said no way .With your history I’m ordering a few CT scans.After a couple hours of waiting the doctor came back to tell me that a helicopter was on its way to get me and take me to the University of Florida/Shands hospital.Told me i have multiple dissections and a very large AAA.Told me no one in this area of the state is going to touch you (you have to go NOW).


Thanks for stopping by to view our stories. Please help me keep the site going by shopping at’s very much appreciated. Brian Tinsley founder of (please book mark the link once you get to for future purchases!)

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