Aortic dissection & aortic aneurysm information support group

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

Hello everyone on this useful website. I'm writing about my experience with an aortic dissection as a non-native English speaker. Please forgive my many mistakes.

Living in Switzerland I had my AD, type A, one and a half years ago at age 50. I was misdiagnosed in a hospital of a major Swiss city and continued living five more days (even went jogging on day four) before a guardian angel doctor eventually did the right diagnosis. I then got immediate surgery and had seven hard days before it became clear that I would survive the incident. I still have my own aortic valve, which could be repaired but I have replacements and stents all along my aorta.

My caring girlfriend was and still is my great support. After two months I was back to work at a very low percentage. I gradually increased my work load to 80% until my employer dismissed me for restructuring reasons. After a few months of unemployment I was offered another job at the same company, which unfortunately turned out to be a mismatch.

So here I am, still alive but with an aorta which is full of spare parts and no idea about how to proceed with my professional career. I don't intend to ask for a disability pension because I appreciate work, which also keeps me away from thinking about my special situation too often. Plus, in my country Switzerland it's rather difficult to be admitted for a disability pension. I do feel physically quite fit, although not as fit as before the incident. I guess it's the psychological situation post-surgery, which is the problem. I know that there is something quite awkward in my central artery and that bothers me a lot.

And then there is the "how long" question, i.e. the life expectancy issue. I know that nobody can tell me how to cope with these questions as this is my own personal situation I am in. But nevertheless I'd be happy to hear how you members of this platform deal with the work situation after AD. Thanks for your support.

PS: Life after AD has it's advantages. I appreciate the value of life and every single day far more than before the incident. It seems like a deal: you get the advantage of a more intense life and pay with uncertainty about your future.

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Comment by Jim Sanquedolce on September 2, 2013 at 8:23

Meter,  I  also  survived  (October 8, 2009)  an  Ascending Aortic Dissection which  had  not been  diagnosed prior. at age 51, I  also found  Myself  in  a process  of "renewal" or rebirth that I've yet to finalize.  coming  up close to 4 years  now.  AT  age  50,  I would  suggest  YOU  do your   best  to go for the disability, I was  actually  denyed a disability  which is  absolutely   rediculous  Given My employemnt situation...While  I am Older  and  feel I want back in to the workforce, doing something, I've yet been unable to do so after a Popilteal Artery Bipass  which leaves  My  right   leg foot  ankle often 3 times  normal while  taking  water  pills..  Don't  concern yourself  with  pride,  concern yourself  with yourself and  your  family situation 1st... and do whatever  YOU need to  re- educate yourself....  even   doing janitorial, window washing, security, ie: more  part time  and LIGHTER  physical tasks  but things  that  will allow you to keep moving at least,  beware  general  labor  shoveling  sorts of  manual  labor sorts of  things think of  lowering  stress (STRAINING)- weight lifting/ physicality is not good while  purhaps cardio  riding a  bike Might be  accepted by the  Physician(s)...  to be  quite  honest  The  medical Community  has  Never  had  the  Numbers of  survivors  as they do "now"  The  AMerican  site  "AORTICDissection"  was  begun  in  2006  by  a  seattle  area survivor,  When I joined  There  He had a list of  315   survivors  both  Type  A and B  That number has grown to 450+ in  3 years ... Obviously    Not   everyone  is  on that  page or this one, there  may be  other pages  out there  as well....   But  there  are not  Hundreds  of  thousands   of  survivors  as we speak..  we are  treading  ON   new  ground....  expect  "depression", Anxiety,  "NEW"  pains and aches and "issues "  to come up, If  YOU  were a banker,  maybe now it the time to work in a shop carving products or  something  more enjoyable  for you, at  51  I  didnt  make it as  far as I'd  have  liked to finacially,  But If  I land  the  right  thing  I will NOT worry.... a bit ( Many  options  too)   head up  chest out...   :)

Comment by Patrick Gethin on May 31, 2013 at 22:40
Hope my story shows you that we have all had the same feelings
Comment by Nicola McMeekin on May 14, 2013 at 9:59


Congratulations on surviving an AD.  The psychological effects do take time to come to terms with, it took me over a year to get to grips with having an AD.

I am in a similar situation to you work wise.  I had my AD 21 months ago at the age of 43.  I was out of work at the time due to childcare issues, (I am an accountant) but last year an old employer took me on for 6 months part time working from home which was ideal and I really enjoyed being back to work.  Since then though I have been out of work and looking.  There are very few part time jobs at my level - in fact due to the bad economy there are very few jobs anyway - I am up against people with better experience than me who are willing to take a step down the ladder to get a job.

I am seriously thinking of taking a sideways step into an area of work that my husband is involved in where I can eventually do some contract work and therefore be flexible in what I do - this will mean doing an 8 month distance learning course but I feel it'll be worth it to have more control over my career.  Like you I want to work and am physically able to work but not full time.  Could you look at doing self employed work?

On the plus side I am able to spend more time getting fit at the gym and getting out for walks in the week whilst I am looking for work so it's not all bad!  I also volunteer one morning a week at the local hospital which I enjoy. My goal at the moment is to walk up Snowdon in Wales next month to raise some money for the hospital where I was treated - it is great to have some goals and something to plan and look forward to.

Good luck with your job search, it can be very frustrating when no new jobs are available.  Enjoy your motorbike and the nice weather - it is cold and windy in the north east of England today :(


Comment by Meier on May 7, 2013 at 8:33

Thank you, Kimberlee, for your words, which I very much appreciate.

I'd be glad to hear more from other members who underwent AD surgery.

-          Have you been able to go back to work?

-          Part-time?

-          Have you applied for (partial) disability?

-          Are there sources about this topic on the internet or elsewhere? (ability to work after AD type A).

I often read that it takes time to overcome the psychological stress that goes with the past operation situation and that after a few years survivors will be just fine and appreciate the new situation. But if I’m not able to function properly (…) until that point in time, I won’t be hired anymore for the rest of my life.

Being out of work a year or two often means that you are out of business for the rest of your life, especially at my age, past 50. It is also very difficult finding part time employment at a senior career level. It’s all or nothing! Part time, 50-80%, would be perfect for me, as this would allow me to better get to grips with my second life experience. And it would help to better control blood pressure, which is crucial for me in order to avoid an aneurysm (I still have areas in my aorta with false lumen because doctors only could partially fix my aorta during surgery).

This said, I just want to add that the sun is shining in Switzerland today and that I will now go for a run. Plus, I’ll add a motorbike trip this afternoon. La vita e bella!

Comment by Kimberlee Jones on May 6, 2013 at 3:37

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I personally had to quit working and apply and after 3 yrs finally get disability(I'm in USA) I had to quit mostly due to sever pain not only from dissection surgery but a tumor was removed from the spinal cord in my neck 5 yrs prior to my dissection, so my back pain can get pretty intense at times.

OK, let's see if I can answer some of your questions. Life expectancy is no different for you then it was before you dissected. I know as a survivor mortality is on your mind more than ever before. In the beginning it seems 24/7. But I assure you, one day you'll get to the point where your too busy living and mortality just sneaks in from time to time.

I've said many many times, the mental recovery is much harder and takes longer than the physical. But back to your work situation. Each person is different, some return to work quickly while others are never able too. It's the same with how a person feels physically, some bounce back to normal while others never bounce all the way back. You have been given a 2nd birthday if you will, a 2nd chance, I don't know how it is there but employers here cannot fire or not hire someone due to a disability. Here's the most important thing, follow your heart, just listen to your body and don't push  yourself into doing something you are no longer able to do. Maybe it's time to realize an old dream, or discover a new dream. Maybe make a bucket list. My point is, you have to live and don't let this AD define you or your future.


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