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 October 22, 2013 at 8:19

Hi Victoria,

Welcome to the site.  Wow, that's an amazing story, you are so lucky.  As you have probably seen on the site there's quite a few of us in the UK who don't get quick diagnosis, thank goodness you took the initiative.  Funny you said about not being able to sit in 'the chair' I still can't wear the t-shirt I was wearing when I dissected, I keep it in the hope that soon (over 2 years since my AD) I will be brave enough, it was my favourite t-shirt too!

I hope you are back to riding and enjoy your pork chops.....



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