Aortic dissection & aortic aneurysm information support group

Aortic dissection, aortic aneurysm - The aorta - Life after an aortic dissection

Hi.  I recently joined the website, and would like to say it has been an amazing discovery, it can really feel like you are the only family to have suffered the drama and shock of a close family member having such a serious condition, and when searching the web it does seem to be only the worse case scenarios you read about on medical websites!

My father discovered he had a AAA back i think at the end of august start of september, mid october he was told it was big, 7.5cm, that was on the Tuesday, when he was told he would have to undergo more tests to test the strength of his heart and lungs, to see if he could survive the op to fix it.  He is 73 and anemic, also he has has angina for around twenty odd years.  However, there was never time to carry out these tests, as, 5 days later,on the Sunday, he woke 'not feeling right' and took a couple of indigestion tablets.  He managed to make his way downstairs before he collapsed into his chair (again, so lucky to have not fell down the stairs!). My mum, who obviously knew his newly diagnosed condition, called 999 and an abulance came very quickly.  We are so lucky that we knew what was happening, as i have read most people do not even know they have a AAA until its far too late.  The paramedics managed to bring him round, and got him to hospital.  Things happened then so fast.  He was met with the surgery team, received a blood transfussion prior to surgery, the surgeon had told my mother he had a 50% chance, but that he had to operate right then and there.  My dad made it through surgery, and was moved to ICU.  He was kept in the ICU for around a week and a half, and in the early days he was very confused, the consultant advised us this was common in older patients - delirium.  Cue another evening of googling, and discovering how serious this could be!  Thank god, my dad came out of the delerium after a couple of days.  He was then moved to a regular ward, and was there for approximately two weeks.  He is now home, and can move about up to the toilet for example, but is very weak.  He has been off his food, and has been prescribed Fortisip drinks now, which we have to collect tomorrow.  We have tried to give him just small things to pick at, rice puddings, cereal as he has gone right off his food.  When he was in the regular ward he contracted C dif, which he has now been given anti-biotics for.  He is also not sleeping at all during the night, so i was wondering if anyone else  was like this when they left hospital?  He was 'released' as he calls it(!) on Thursday, 5 days ago.

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Hi Angela,
wow! Your father is a lucky man...
regarding delerium, i had protracted episodes of it in hospital where i imagined people coming to visit me that never ever came to the hospital who played various practical jokes on me. i also had paranoid moments where i was sure one of the nurses had it in for me.
As i can recall (it is rather hazy, and i am just not sure what is true anymore) when i was sent to convalescent care and rehabilitation after 3 weeks in the hospital i had been "delusion" free for about 3 or 4 days!
it took me 6 weeks to fully regain my strength as i needed to get rid of the anaesthetic, the effects of the hypothermic circulatory arrest, and the other drugs i had been pumped full of. i was 30 at the time... maybe your father will need a little more time, or maybe his body'll be right on top of it. difficult to say. my mum spoke at length to my cardiothoracic surgeon whatever opportunity she could get and he set out a rough timeline which i seemed to stick to, much to everyone's relief.
as i understand it the operation to repair an AAA is more dangerous than the medical treatment option, so it looks like your father is out of the woods, and, barring any unforeseens should start to get his strength (and appetite) back in a few weeks. until then, maybe soup is the way forward - it was the only thing i could bring myself to eat for 6 weeks!
hope that this helps!
all the best,
Hi Angela

I agree with Richard.. It actually took my body nearly 3 months to get rid of the drugs used for the operation as i had terrible night sweats every night until one night they suddenly stopped.. the sweating was my bodys way of getting rid of the general anaesthetic and other drugs used in my operation... Sleeplessness is common.. I also did not eat properly for at least a month and it took me nearly 8 weeks to get more than an hours sleep in one go... As Richard said looking back on it all now it seems like a far off distant dream..but it sure was not at the time!

The body is an amazing will recover - albeit a bit slower with your father as he is older - but he will recover.. but it takes a lot of time and a lot of understanding as the operation is as about as major as you can get and whilst the body will repair itself - to a large degree - the big issue with me was mentally as it took a year to get my head back together as I was quite emotional and also quite many of us seem to have suffered.. But we all DO get over it and get on with our lives...

So - chicken soup it is...and lots of reading by a nice fire and lots of naps as well... and when it it right some gentle exercise will also reap great rewards as well as it is very important to get moving again after an op such as this...


Graeme Archer
Hi Angela! So happy to hear your father made it through, I so much enjoy the survivor stories they put a smile on my face and fill my heart. I was 31y/o at the time of my surgery and I also had a emergency c-section the day before, so I'm sure my recovery is in some ways similar to others and yet a little different. I woke up to two new beautiful scars my front side now matches my back, a scar almost completely straight down the middle of my torso. The back scars are from two other unrelated surgeries( scoliosis and a tumor in my cervical spine) Now on to recovery, my first memories post op are after I was moved to my room, I have recollection of ICU at all. I experienced no delirium at all, I attribute this to my only thoughts were about my new baby, I think I was so focused on her and how she was doing, that focus kept my mind for the most part oriented. I did and still do have moments I call brain farts, where I just can't quit focus my thoughts and I find myself entering a room multiple times before recalling why I went in there the first time. I also seem to have lost my quick thinking skills, for example while I can still complicated math I now find myself back to doing simple addition/subtraction by counting on my fingers. As for the insomnia and appetite, I had no trouble sleeping but narcotics knock me out, once I was off the narcotics I went through a few months of not being able to sleep, I think this is due to the thoughts that were running through my head whenever I had a quiet moment. The appetite on the other hand took well over six months(keep in mind I had three major follow up events that put me back in the hospital) These included an extremely fast heart rate, a leak developed and I also got a staff infection in the lower part of my scar.

It sounds to me like your father is doing very well and everything is normal. Remember though to talk to his doctor about all of this, he/she will be the best one to guide you through it all. We here can only relate our own personal experience and be a support system and most importantly a new family. *hugs*

hello, thanks for posting your reply, i have not been on the website for a while so so sorry i havent got back to everyone before now!  My dad ended up having to go back to hospital again, the c diff returned so he was back in for a week, he is out now again and is getting his appetite back, the c diff didnt help with the not eating!  he is getting on well, still not sleeping much, but eating more and walking about more, not managing downstairs much but he is walking about upstairs a few times a day and the physios have had him downstairs, he is getting there slowly. 

Your story is amazing, it really is astounding what the body can pull you through. i think what you said about thoughts going through your head when you have a quiet moment is true with my dad too, i think thats maybe caused his insomnia, i think for the first few weeks he didnt really know what had happened, he couldnt remember anything of what happened the day his AAA starting leaking and his op etc, i can only imagine the kind of disbelief and shock it must be to get your head round having life saving surgery.  I think time has helped he is getting on well, he has a quite a bad cough he says he has a choking feeling when he is trying to sleep at night, the Dr has indicated this could be due to the breathing tube he had for around ten days in ICU so hopefully that will clear up itself.  Thank you again for your support and everyone else on this site it has truly been a positive experience finding the website and hearing everyones stories.  xx

Thank you so much for the update. Glad to hear your dad is doing well. Time heals all, even that choking feeling will go away. I had to sleep(as much as I could sleep) in my lazy boy for months, I'm a stomach/side sleeper and laying down was just to painful for the longest time. Remind your dad to take it easy and don't push himself, we all heal at our own pace and it's best to listen to ones body and not another persons words. Take care! *hugs*




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