Aortic dissection & aortic aneurysm information support group

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

Hi, I am a new member and I thought I'd share a bit of my story with you.

Last August I had a type A dissection, I was lucky enough to have it diagnosed correctly and then a dacron graft fitted at the Freeman hospital in Newcastle by 2 amazing surgeons.

I am 10 months post op, it hasn't been an easy recovery, I have been amazed at how long it has taken me to get back to 'normality'. I am painfree mostly, just odd aches and discomfort.  I walk every day - despite the weather(!) and work part-time.

I have a frozen shoulder which is now painfree, I am going to have it treated to get it looser.

I 'm hoping to get back to cycling with my teenage kids and husband in the next few months.  Before my dissection I played the trombone in 2 bands but have been advised against playing it again because of the dissection.  But mainly I am doing most of what I did before my dissection so feel very lucky.

I am looking forward to reading more of your blogs and being a member of the website.


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Comment by Nicola McMeekin on July 4, 2012 at 7:37

Hi Gregory, thanks for your post, it's nice to hear from you.  I had my dissection when I was 43, I'm 44 now.  I try to walk every day which I'm sure really helps. I like your BMW!


Hi Cheryl, thanks for your kind words, it is good to know there are people out there reading my blog.  Interesting what you said about bikes, I shall blog about how I get on when I get back on my bike. I agree with you though, living is worth the sacrifice of giving up hobbies. It's a shame you can't get out and about for walks at the moment, it's nice to get a bit of fresh air, hope it cools down soon, heat and humidity is not a problem we have in the north east of England!  Nicola

Comment by Cheryl Kerber on July 3, 2012 at 14:54

Congrats to you for surviving Nicola.  It is amazing what our bodies can do (survive and then heal even though it's a long process).  The physical pain of course pops up now and again and we work on it whether through therapy or pain meds.  The mental aspect is of course another story.  That is the true deep challenge.  It's like any health challenge - once experienced or diagnosed it changes us and sucks some of that infallibleness we once had.  We look at life differently (in a positive sense we notice the little things - the colors, nature, and appreciate life) and then of course (in the negative sense - we notice others' (let me clarify that adults not children)) pettiness, greed, selfishness etc., and would like to slap them upside the head and tell them what they are really missing as they can't see what/how we see having experienced what we have.

Your feelings at Christmas might flare up again out of nowhere - but people on this site understand and are here for you even if it's just to read your post.

I too have had to give up things due to my AD and surgeries for it, but living is well worth the sacrifice.

I recommended this book earlier on this site - but will restate it as it is very "on the mark" in regards to what we have faced and continue to face - it's called "Close to the Bone - Life threatening illness and the search for meaning" by Jean Shinoda Bolen.  I was able to check it out at the library. 

Our ADs put us on a new path of course in our lives.  I can sense in the tone of your blog post that you have the right/positive mental state to move forward, learn, grow, and deal with what lies ahead.

It will always be there - even though the pain will lessen (it might not ever completely go away as it does seem to pop up at times after we usually have over done on something) but then we just kick back a notch, and then take it easy for awhile, til we forget again.  The why, the will it happen again, the is what I'm feeling tied to my aorta --- will pop up too.

You mentioned cycling - I have yet to find a bike that doesn't agitate my surgery sites - but I'm not giving up - they keep improving them and who knows, maybe I'll have to go back to the "banana seat" style.

Now if the weather could only cooperate (it's been in the upper 90's with dewpoints in the 70's this week and it's supposed to last for at least 10 days).  With the meds I'm on and of course just the surgeries - my body can't quite handle the humidity challenge it used to. I like to have my windows open and go for walks outside - the treadmill gets a tad boring - visually!

So again, congrats - glad you are here and found this site.

Comment by Gregory Smith on July 2, 2012 at 10:42

Nicola, I, too, was surprised at how long it took to recover from the operation. It is just over 2 years since my AD and it has taken most of that time to begin to feel anything like normal, despite regular walks and going to the gym with the local cardiac rehabilitation group. 10 months is nothing. I don't know how old you are but I'm sure age has an effect. I'm nearly 66. There are some on here who seem to have never fully recovered so count yourself lucky - and give yourself a pat on the back. Well done!

Comment by Nicola McMeekin on June 29, 2012 at 10:27

Hi Sharon, I'm impressed with your ladder climbing, arrghh! I imagine you garden and allotment are taking a lot of looking after this time of year. I have planted garlic and peas in our veg plot, the strawberries are looking good too. Did your husband lose his driving license? It's very handy that you work nights, my husband works from home 2 days a week which is nice. I feel great at the moment, I had a few bad weeks before Chirstmas when I was terrified that I'd have another AD but I am over that now luckily. I work part-time from home (just 4 months conctract) so that fits in well with me. I get around all the things I can't do now and don't worry about it, for instance instead of going out to do a weekly supermarket shop I get the food delivered when the kids are home from school so I don't have to lift the heavy stuff. I hope all your veg/fruit grows and all the weeds don't. Nic

Comment by Sharon Masterman on June 28, 2012 at 22:27

Hey Nicola, we sit playing chess now!! (only joking!) we have a huge garden and an allotment at the bottom of it, nowdays I am the muscle and he is the Supervisor .....(not supposed to gig/use rotavator/petrol hedgetrimmer etc) we get by somehow, I suppose by laughing whenever we can, even if its inapropriate - I hate heights but I wobble up ladders now so it just goes to show, I can do it if I try. My husband would try IF I let him, but I don't! I work nights, so I can be with him a lot during the day. Since he lost his license and consequently his job he has been very much blowing in the wind, so its good we can be together. How are you feeling? xxx

Comment by Nicola McMeekin on June 26, 2012 at 9:41

Hi Sharon,
Great news that your husband showed no change at his last scan, it is such a relief to get good news at appointments.
Yes, a trombone is quite heavy but the main reason I've been advised not to play is that it takes a lot of puff to blow down it and this would put a lot of pressure on my aorta. To be honest, although it was a big part of my life, it's just great to be here so a small sacrifice! I'm sure I'll find another hobby to do instead...

Comment by Sharon Masterman on June 26, 2012 at 0:09

Hi there Nicola

My hubby had a Type B dissection nearly 11 moths ago. Its medically treated so he did not have to endure an op. His latest scan (three weeks ago) shows no change so we were very relieved! Is a trombone quite heavy then, Nicola? What a shame you can't play... but how blessed that you are here!!!!  Sharon


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