Aortic dissection & aortic aneurysm information support group

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

I've tried, so many times, to write my story, but I can't seem to get the words out. In the beginning, I was depressed so much, feeling like I'd lost so much of myself. Now, I float through days wondering if I'm doing enough. Of course, I've learned to make time for my kids and to spend a little bit of my day with something that makes me happy. But being only 47 years old and only able to work part time (the meds, oh boy!) has put quite a strain on the finances and now I'm wondering if I've gotten too comfortable being the convalescent. My husband and I own a business so I still have that work responsibility, but I'm starting another part time job next week. Frankly, I'm terrified. Will it be too much? Will I fall behind on my responsibilities to my family and my own business because I'm too tired to do anything else? I wish I could know if I'm doing the right thing. My doctors tell me I'll live a long time as long as I keep on doing what I've been doing, but I kind of feel like I'm not doing anything at all but existing. What is a long time, anyway? 20 years? more? Should I work harder to be normal and not worry so much about making things easy on myself? I just wish I knew...

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Comment by jefferson helton on March 29, 2012 at 18:26
I am almost 2 years out. I had an ascending dissection that was repaired by surgery and still have a descending dissection that they are hopefully controlling with medication. I think most of us feel like you do. The uncertainty is the worst part. Most of us experience bouts of depression and exhaustion. Most of us, fear. Fear when we have chest pains, that it may be something more than our scar tissue or surgery sites healing. Fear that things may get worse. We also all go through a grieving process. We have all lost at least some control over our lives and wish things were like they used to be. I think it is important to let ourselves feel whatever we feel, rather than try to suppress our emotions. That just gets us stuck in a rut. I think all of us are very greatful we are alive and can still see our loved ones and experience how wonderful life is. As for me, I'm discovering a "new" normal. Not better or worse, just different. We are extraordinary in so many wonderful ways just by virtue of our surviving our ordeals, and yet we have been all come out wounded in other ways. It all balances somehow. Regardless, it is what it is and all we can do is try to make the most of it. I wish I had answers, both for you and myself, but...
Comment by Harry on March 26, 2012 at 20:22

Hi Dale,

I sympathise with how you feel, I have gone through many of the same emotions, I imagine we all have on this site; some handle it better than others.

I took counselling which helped focus on the positive things in life & to understand the negatives and deal with them as best I can.

I have taken a year out after my surgery & whilst I am still not 100% fit I realise if I  stay off work any longer I am prone to never go back & move into what could be a downward spiral of existence without cause.

We all need a focus in life, be it family, friends, a business or work, something to live for, something to motivate us & “LIVE FOR”. I have read so often stories of people who have given up & their recovery stalls & they end up in a downward spiral of ill health & depression.

Living with our condition isn’t easy, I struggle each day, but I won’t let it beat me. I don’t know what time I have left & frankly I don’t want to know. But I do want my old life back & will strive as hard as I can to get it & encourage you to do the same.




Comment by Richard Deal on March 26, 2012 at 13:40

hi dale,

one day at a time, one battle at a time...

all of us have depression nipping at our ankles like a yorkshire terrier of despair. all of us are reminded of our mortality pretty much daily, and all of us need a supportive shoulder when it gets too much for us... none of this is anything to be ashamed of...

try pushing yourself - i was back working full time 3 months after my dissection. now, 3 and a half years on, i am active, fitter than i was pre-dissection, and generally the only effect my dissection has on my life is having to remember to take the pills.

like i said at the start though - one day at a time... nothing will happen if you suddenly change - you must gradually work up to things.

i am also very confused about life expectancy, especially since we have members here who are 20 years post-op now. all of the studies seem to suggest an average life expectancy of ~ 13 years, but the average age of people studied was ~ 58 - so i guess the life expectancy should be considered normal or normal - 8 years for men, and normal - 13 years for women. i never thought i would have to plan for my retirement, but now i am not so sure!

whatever the case, we should live our lives, and not cower away behind our conditions, because then we really have wasted our time, and our surgeon's efforts. as graeme so succinctly said 'carpe diem'!

take care,


Comment by Graeme on March 25, 2012 at 11:41



most of us here can TOTALLY relate to your post. The 'Black Dog' of depression still stalks us all..It's a MAJOR byproduct of our AD and frankly the very reason I started this site and its sister site at Mechanical Heart Valve. It took me many many months to get back emotionally on an even keel after my AD and still today, 9 years on next month - I can have dark days... :-( Being terrified is part of the equation!).. I guess the best advice I can give is take - and live - each day as it comes and try and extract something wonderful from each day .. I also live life now very much for the day - and frankly try not to think about the 'long term' future as that is mainly up to fate - not me - and interestingly enough I am at peace now... 

"Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero"   Writing is incredibly therapeutic.. keep doing it!!






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