Aortic dissection, aortic aneurysm - The aorta - Life after an aortic dissection
I venture to guess that my story is not atypical from others who have experienced this traumatic event.
On October 12, 2012 while watching a Football game I experienced what at first felt like a painful case of acid indigestion. My chest was burning and after a minute or two I began to grow very concerned that something was seriously wrong. Please understand, I am a man who does not typically enjoy Emergency Rooms or others making a big deal of my health, so making the trek upstairs to explain what was happening to my wife was a big deal for her and I would discover for me also.
During the car ride I began to shake violently and became very cold, trying to exit the vehicle was also difficult as my legs wouldn't do what I needed them to do, so a wheelchair became necessary. Within minutes I was undergoing all of the tests associated with hearts, and upon explaining to the doctor that there was a great pain in between my shoulder blades he requested an Echo and determined that I was likely experiencing a dissection and then explained to me that the aneurysm had grown to 6.9 cm.
A brief explanation was provided to my wife and I about what was happening and that it would be necessary to be flown to the University of Minnesota for emergency surgery. Shocked and confused I was loaded in to a helicopter and transported to the U and upon arrival was prepped for surgery. My wife and kids met me as I was being wheeled in to surgery, I can safely assume she was driving over the speed limit to meet me with the kids and to pray.
The surgery lasted many hours, and the end result was they had surgically wrapped my aorta with a Gortex sleave. They had repaired the Type A Dissection and had detected a second thoracic dissection that we now monitor closely and is controlled by beta blockers. Within a few days I was released from the hospital, I don't sleep well in hospitals or next to snoring roommates, so made the wrong decision to stop taking my pain meds so that I could have a bowel movement and be released.
At this point in the story, I'd like to say that the emotional trauma that this event caused was significant. My entire life I have been driven to work hard, to work hard towards ideas of success. To make more money, to achieve status, and to be in a position of power. I was driven. This event caused me to begin to look out of my office window and to begin asking some serious questions about my life. Questions of meaning, of fulfillment, of satisfaction. I peered out my window for many months and stopped moving.
Almost a year after the surgery I experienced a Pulmonary Embolism. I can only attribute the PE to my lack of movement in life as the doctors weren't able to locate the origin of the clot. This is significant, I had stopped moving, I was stuck. I've come to believe that this heart event triggered me to begin to ask different questions about my life and that the PE was further evidence that I needed to get moving.
The crisis has been my greatest challenge, it is forcing me to evaluate my life, my values, and my ideas of success. It is also causing me to change my perspectives on relationships with my self, others, and my work. It is a passage that I am now comitted to walking and that requires caring for my soul and understanding that as I care for my soul I impact the relationships in my life in a healthier, more conscious and positive way.
Thank you for welcoming me to the community.
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