Aortic dissection & aortic aneurysm information support group

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

My Story


Well I am 38 years old. Spent most of my life as a Firefighter/Paramedic. I believe prior to AD I had mild HTN.


heres a real fast chronicle as to my situation.Feb.6 2010 Went to an Emergency room with substernal chest pain and not feeling good at all. They ran bloods on me and it came out normal. My mistake was I left that ER that night still having pain at at a 7 on a scale of 1-10. The next night I went in again and the doctors barely paid any attention to me saying it was probably anxiety. The third night, Different doctor the ER was very busy and I was in some serious pain. Knowing what I know as a paramedic AD was the last thing on my mind I was just assuming cardiac and I asked the nurse for some Nitro. That didnt work and still had not seen the doctor. I then asked for the GI cocktail wich is Lidocaine,milanta and something else. Well a patient ordering his own meds got the doctors attention and came over to me and I explained how much pain I was in. His aggressiveness ordered a CT scan and I would say in minutes I have every single nurse on me starting multiple lines, hanging a bag of dopamine and it was then when I asked the doc for  2 mg of Ativan and some dilaudid. they told me what was wrong and my survival chances and by that time I noticed the on call cardiothoracic team racing in the doors. Not far behind was me being raced down the halls. I had just enough time to say goodbye to my family and then I met the anesthesiologist.


He blasted me with an amp of  Versed and I woke up ALIVE and orally intubated, Didnt quite like the oral intubation and have inserted my own share of them but knew how important it was. Im sure my O2 sats would have been way to low at that time for extubation so the nurses put me back to sleep.


I spent about 13 days in the hospital followed by cardiac rehab.


prior to my AD I had pretty bad anxiety. well this incident has not made things any better, I have gone to eh ER a few times now post op with weird chest pains that always end up after a workup to be anxiety, I feel like Iam in such a dilemna, Do I go to the ER when I get these pains or stay home, Everyone in my family and even the nurses tell me to get back to the ER. Im so glad I found all of you to discuss all this with, there arent many of us around lucky enough to get to talk about this so I had to join.


they ended up using the dacron tubing i was told and other than that I dont know too much 

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Tags: Dacron, Patrick, anxiety, aortic, ascending, dissection

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Comment by Patrick Michael on June 17, 2011 at 3:10
Thank you for all you informative responses. So glad to have found ALL of you!!!!!!
Comment by Kimberlee Jones on June 9, 2011 at 17:56

Sounds like you had one hell of an adventure.  The anxiety is very normal after AD and can last for a long long while. My cardio ended up putting me on anti anxiety meds shortly after my surgery. I still have attacks when I'm having one of my days, but they are far less frequent.


As for trips to the ER...I did and still make many of them. I have this better safe than sorry philosophy. Especially since what drove me to ER when they discovered my AD was a tiny bit of pressure in chest that wouldn't go away. I was sure it was just a case of chronic indigestion but something told me to go to ER anyway(I was also 34 wks pregnant, so indigestion was common) This taught me to listen to my body and if something feels wrong check it out.  I rather feel a bit silly for going to ER as I go home than it be something and not go to hospital.


All the fears and thoughts running through your mind, we've all had them. Realizing how close death was to knocking on your door is scary and something you never forget.


Just remember we are all here for you and nothing you have to say or ask is trivial...your part of a whole new family now...we may be different but we're here for you.

Comment by Richard Deal on June 9, 2011 at 8:15

hey patrick,

basically everything that cheryl said. nothing is too trivial for you as a dissection survivor to go to the ER about... i went in with a temperature one sunday, just to find out what medication i could take with my cocktail of pills and they kept me in for a week for "observation" - better safe than sorry!

take care,


Comment by Cheryl Kerber on June 8, 2011 at 17:13

Anxiety is sad to say our worst enemy as it does through the glitch in as to when you should go in to the ER, but after almost 7 years of it myself, it is always better to error on the safe side.  They have all the equipment to run the tests that are needed, and when they know what you have and what you have gone through, the medical staff is always understanding if not amazed that we are still here.

They always tell me if I get severe chest pain or back pain to go right to the ER, but for me, what sent me to the ER was just an "off" feeling - waves of oddness down my arms pretty much.  It was the catscan that showed a "possible" leak and then off to surgery I went.

For all I know, it could have been anxiety since 6 weeks prior is when I found out about my dissection (I had gone in for a cough and they did a chest xray that showed my aorta was possibly enlarged).  The follow up catscan is what showed what I had.

If you can, I would seek out help for the anxiety and for post traumatic stress syndrome as your event was unexpected and just trying to heal is work enough for us on the physical end.  The mental part is tougher.  If you like to read, there are books to help work through the whole "understanding" the why of what happens to us.

I have to have surgery on 7/7 to repair the rest of my aorta that was too extensive to fix the first time.  Mentally I am in a different place this time (not that I'm looking forward to it as I know what I have to face) but this time because I know what is going on, instead of an emergency, does help.

If you can get more info or research more about what you had done, might help alleviate some of the anxiety also.

I don't know if you are open to healing touch, reikki, chiropractic(if you find one that includes not just the physical aspect but the more holistic route of the mind connection) also can help tremendously. 

I didn't have any of that until 3 years after my surgery (the chiropractor just this year as I was to chicken to go since they had removed 2 of my ribs for my previous surgery), but it had helped alot in regards to the mental aspect.

You are still just over a year of your event so just know you are not "odd".

What do they have you doing at this point in regards to follow up and so forth --- like their prognosis, possible cause, and so forth if you don't mind sharing?

Also, from where to where does your AD run (or the portion that has been fixed?)

I was 38 also when I had my dissection and I've had almost 7 years since my first surgery.  Since my aneurysm includes the whole abdominal section, they always said surgery would be down the road for me, but beyond monitoring with CTSCANS was about all they could do.  I am on lisinopril and metoprolol er as "preventative" post surgery, but never had a BP issue and never smoked (the 2 primary risks factors for AD accd to my surgeons).  It doesn't run in my family (which I'm thankful for) and they never tested me to see if I have the connective tissue disorder.  You could check if they ran that for you --- I don't get why they didn't as they had the aortic tissue right there, but in hindsight - would encourage you to check this out.

Through everything the last several years, I have learned to suck up my pride and just go in when things are not "right" whether anxiety or whether a side affect from my meds or nerve damage or whatever might cause the "offness/pain/concern". 

Your body went through a traumatic event, nerves, muscles, tissues were all severed to fix what happened and our bodies tend to not like that - go figure. 

You will continue to improve, but don't ignore anything out of "embarrassment" even if it only turns out to be anxiety --- better safe than not here.  But I strongly recommend finding help with the mental aspect as it really takes its toll.  You can check with your doctors to make sure it isn't a side affect from your meds (I would be surprised if they haven't put you on something already.)

Please do keep in touch --- this site is a God send and hopefully you can find some help here as I have just having others understand me (the new me - post AD as I have had to redefine who I am to include my AD).  My family and friends are very supportive, but only those on this site really understand my situation, just like I couldn't understand someone that is facing cancer like others who have been through it.  I can be empathetic because of the physical/emotional trauma I went through, but really, it comes down to specifics and those on this site, understand those specifics.

Take care -- I know my comment has been wordy --- but it only comes from caring --- so keep in touch - we are all here for you since can not physically - mentally!



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