On May 2nd this year (2015), I started to feel ill during the day... Thought I had a migraine and so went to sleep for a couple of hours. I was away for a weekend, on my own for the first time since my husband of 25 years had left me. My 4 kids (ages 16 to 24) were all away doing various things for the bank holiday weekend. So I was taking the opportunity to be 'brave' and do something for myself for once!
As the late afternoon and evening came, I felt more and more unwell, with a degree of pain radiating through my back and upwards. I then went very cold and clammy....enough to set alarms bells off in my head. Thinking heart attack? I went to the desk of where I was staying and asked for help, mentioning that I needed an ambulance. Of course, I was staying in the middle of rural Devon...makes from anywhere. However, first paramedics arrived and then an ambulance. I was taken to Barnstable hospital, where a quick thinking doctor insisted on a CT. Scan ,as I was so poorly. That is the last thing I remember, until I woke up 4 weeks later in in Plymouth cardiac ICU. Apparently, I had become unconscious quite quickly, the CT showed a very large aortic dissection, which required immediate surgery. I was transferred to Plymouth in the middle of the night, and the surgeon came in on his day off, in order to operate on me. My kids were contacted and told that I was in transit to Plymouth, but unlikely to make the journey. We live in Warwick, so I was miles from home, and they were all miles from me.
Amazingly, I survived the journey and then the surgery. My fantastic kids came to see me as often as possible, spending hours by my side when I was in my 4 wk coma, my two daughters started and finished their GCSE exams and university finals, my sons carried on with their jobs, with sympathetic employers who gave them compassionate leave to visit often.
I had many complications after the surgery, kidneys packed up, tracheostomy, chest infections requiring chest drains, a DVT, AF and septicaemia. Most of this took place without my knowledge, apart from the last chest drain.
I returned home finally, towards the end of June, having had to learn to stand and walk again, due to being so weak. It has been a very slow process since then. I still get very tired, and won't be back at work until at least January. I am a primary teacher, so need far more stamina than I have regained so far.
I refused to go on the internet until now, to look things up, as I understood the enormity of it all from the the hospital and my GP. However, this site cropped up when I was researching a couple of things, so I decided to join, especially as I know of no one else who has been through this. So I am hoping to get some support in some small way from reading about your journeys and recoveries.