Aortic dissection, aortic aneurysm - The aorta - Life after an aortic dissection
It's been a long while since I came here I'm afraid - but this is probably to do with me getting on with life, rather than worrying about something I can't personally affect. I was in a comfy place with my health, and could manage my life. Anyway, update time...
(Inserted in case you hadn't read my initial post) In 2011 I suffered an Acute Aortic Dissection, which initially went undiagnosed for about a month. My local hospital stabilised me, and eventually was referred to St Thomas' in London.
My vascular surgical team at St Thomas' told me I had a complex Type B with a bit of a Type A dissection. I was told to manage my BP rigidly and that I'd be surveilled regularly. So I had three years of watchful waiting, where my Aortic Dissection was monitored, my BP was clamped down harder than a steel trap and life sort of went on - working part time, with reliance upon a workplace salary replacement insurance to make it possible to go on. Early last year I had a couple of stents installed to control an aneurism in my sub-clavian artery - this seemed to be a side effect and bystander casualty to the main event. So, welcome to Mk2 version of life...
Late last year I had my surveillance CT scan at St Thomas' Hospital and while initially it was deemed OK, after the case review my vascular consultant decided that the aneurism in my ascending aorta was too large, and given the complexity of the damage it was beyond what he could do endovascularly (i.e. he couldn't repair it with stents), so recommended me to a colleague. Bit of a shock, bit of worry, but ok, knew it may come to this one day.
This month I had an ascending and arch aortic replacement using Dacron. Totally elective, in a specialist centre (St Thomas' Hospital - London) with a fantastic pair of surgeons (contact me for details if wanted). Surgery was in the morning, and I was talking to my wife early the following morning! I was disconnected from all surgical paraphernalia later that day, and off morphine by the following morning. I'm still sore (but taking a normal dose of paracetamol sore, nothing more). The wound is looking fantastic, the worst bits are the various bruises, but they look good as they change in nature. Surgeon was exceptionally pleased with how it went. He didn't do quite as much as could have (due to chronic nature of dissection), but was content that the major risks were removed. I was in hospital 7 days! Of those, 3 were due to being monitored for potential infection after a small temp spike - none found so was released after the delay.
So, here I am starting my Mk3 life. I still have a very chronic descending aortic dissection (chronic as in it has been there a long time, epithilierised and actually fairly stable), but that's not a problem - I've had that for 3 years now! There may (in all likelihood will) still be work to do. However, this is one or two catastrophic failures removed from my system - so I'm safer. My BP has yet to fully stabilise, but is generally lower and more easy to control than prior to the op - lets hope that stays this way. Less BP drugs, more me in my life!
Last word - this is a scary condition and your family suffers worse than you in my experience. However with careful, skillful management, life does go on and improve.
Thank you for the update! Glad you are doing well, love to you and you family.
The Vascular, then Cardiac teams at St Thomas' have been fantastic - in no way my local hospital (about 3 hrs on the train away!), but after consultations locally, one goes to where the expertise lies. I sort of hoped for the minimal invasiveness of stents, but the Type A part of my dissection was just too complex to repair that way, hence the surgery.
Family have a lot to cope with, all the time supporting you, so yes, definitely heroes!