Aortic dissection & aortic aneurysm information support group

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

So pleased to find this site, I was beginning to think I was the only person this had happened to!


It all started on 15th March 2006, a day etched in my memory for ever I think. I had just had my 51st birthday and was very fit, weighed 7.5 stone and had never smoked and hardly drank. My husband was working away in Africa and I had spent the day completely as usual and had been for a ride on my horse that afternoon. I was just settling down to supper of pork chops ( It was about another 2 years before I could eat a pork chop and even longer before I could sit in that chair!) when my teeth starting hurting, then the pain went into my jaw and extended down into my chest and became excruciating. I could not breath properly and thought I must be having a heart attack, I took the phone, unlocked the back door, and went into the sitting room to lie on the sofa and phoned 999. The ambulance had to come from Yeovil which was half a hour away but the operator was wonderful and stayed on the line the whole time telling me where they were and then saying they were outside my door and could they come in, I said yes! They thought I might have had a heart attack so took me in the ambulance to Yeovil. I kept saying it was ridiculous and I could not have had heart attack as I had nothing wrong with me and was not fat and did not smoke and was only 51. In A&E they did a blood test and said they would know in the morning if it was a heart attack, I think they must have also given me some painkillers as the pain had subsided by now. The next morning they said I had not had a heart attack and it was probably indigestion but cold possibly be angina . I was sent home and told to come back in 6 weeks for a treadmill test to see if it was angina. For the next few days I was feeling very odd and completely exhausted, I could just about wa;l down the road, to look after my 4 ponies and then had to go back home and lie on the sofa again, which was completely out of character for me as I was a very active person usually. After a few days I went to my GP and told him I did not think I had indigestion as I had drunk about a gallon of Gaviscon and felt no better just worse and worse, he listened to my heart and said I should not have a treadmill test until I had had an echocardiogram which I should have as soon as possible. Luckily I had private medical insurance so I rang them and said I could not wait 6 weeks for a test and could I have one sooner. I was given an appointment 2 days later. I was feeling more and more peculiar, now I realise that I was not getting enough blood to my brain or other main organs so no wonder I was feeling so odd, the pain was not so bad by now but still there. 

When I finally got the echocardiogram, all hell let loose! the main consultant was summoned and I was told not to move, the consultant came in looking very grave and told me I had to go to Bristol Hospital  to have a major heart operation immediately . I was terrified! I was sent in an ambulance to Bristol and spent the journey on my mobile phone ringing up friends to feed the cat, look after my horses, and let my children and husband know.

My grown up son lives in Bristol so when I got there he was there and also my sister had come from her home, I must have been knocked out as I remember nothing of that first night  but the next morning both my children were there and my sister and brother and I was told I was  having the operation that morning. (It had been too late when I arrived the night before)

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Comment by Nicola McMeekin on November 4, 2013 at 9:39

Hi Victoria

I can imagine your ponies and horse keep you very busy!  

Funny you should say that about spatial awareness, I had the same thing happen to me going to the garage last week.  I'm not sure mine is a consequence of the AD or more to do with getting older!  

Thanks for your support over the t-shirt, it is washed and ready for another outing.  


Comment by Victoria on November 1, 2013 at 21:22
I feel great most of the time. I do get more tired than I used to, I start nodding off if I am watching tv at about 9pm! I do spend all day on my feet outside dealing with my six miniature Shetland ponies , and riding my horse three times a week. I took two of the Shetlands to a show last weekend, where I have to run round the ring showing them. My husband works abroad most of the time so I hitch up the trailer and drive to the shows on my own. I am so pleased I can still do it, I went back to showing and riding three months after my dissection. I did have a set back at the six month mark when I had a TIA and lost the sight in one eye for a few minutes which was very frightening. My surgeon said it was a bit of plaque that had probably broken off from from the operation site and gone up to my eye. Luckily it has not happened since then, but of course I live in fear that it will. The only thing that seems wrong with me now is my spatial memory is not quite what it was, sometimes I cannot imagine the way to somewhere I know well, although I could get there, just cannot picture the way. Does anyone else have this problem?
Comment by Victoria on November 1, 2013 at 21:05
Hi Nicola
Well done wearing that t shirt! I know how brave you had to be to do it. A milestone indeed, things will gradually get better now, just take it one day at a time.
Comment by Nicola McMeekin on October 29, 2013 at 9:31

Hi Victoria,

I don't know why your photo is upside down but the comments are flowing from bottom to top too!  I hope you are well.  I wore my 'dissection' t-shirt over the weekend and lived to tell the tale!  Thank you for supporting me in doing this, it was a great mile stone and I feel great about it.


Comment by Kimberlee Jones on October 26, 2013 at 23:38

How are you feeling these days?  Is everything going well for you.  I love hearing us survivor's story, you truly are another survivor!  Keep your head up.



Comment by Victoria on October 25, 2013 at 20:50
Anyone know why my photo comes out upside down! It is the right way up on my i pad and in the preview on the profile page but appears upside down. I cannot find a way to rotate it. Any ideas?
Comment by Gary Davis on October 23, 2013 at 21:32

You made it Victoria! So many of us have had the same experience of a misdiagnosis an all to common problem with AD's. Somehow we made it, may be because we were due a lucky break who knows, but we have been given a second chance and have we to live each day to the full.



Comment by Nicola McMeekin on October 23, 2013 at 7:47

I shall try that Victoria, I think I can manage that - thanks for the idea!


Comment by Victoria on October 22, 2013 at 20:36
Thanks for your comments, I quite understand about your t shirt Nicola, I had to trick myself about the kitchen chair in the end and mix them all up so I did not know which the dreaded chair was! Mad I know, but it is amazing how strong the feeling is. Perhaps you could wear your t shirt back to front under a jersey for the first time, and make sure you do it when there are other people around to take your mind off it, then when you have survived that day it might feel safe again. Just an idea.
Comment by Gregory Smith on October 22, 2013 at 15:53

You are very lucky. It's mis-diagnosis that usually kills people. I was even luckier in that Southampton General hospital recognised the symptoms straight away and I was in the operating theatre within 4 hours of my dissection.


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