Aortic dissection & aortic aneurysm information support group

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

I venture to guess that my story is not atypical from others who have experienced this traumatic event.  

On October 12, 2012 while watching a Football game I experienced what at first felt like a painful case of acid indigestion.  My chest was burning and after a minute or two I began to grow very concerned that something was seriously wrong.  Please understand, I am a man who does not typically enjoy Emergency Rooms or others making a big deal of my health, so making the trek upstairs to explain what was happening to my wife was a big deal for her and I would discover for me also.  

During the car ride I began to shake violently and became very cold, trying to exit the vehicle was also difficult as my legs wouldn't do what I needed them to do, so a wheelchair became necessary.  Within minutes I was undergoing all of the tests associated with hearts, and upon explaining to the doctor that there was a great pain in between my shoulder blades he requested an Echo and determined that I was likely experiencing a dissection and then explained to me that the aneurysm had grown to 6.9 cm.

A brief explanation was provided to my wife and I about what was happening and that it would be necessary to be flown to the University of Minnesota for emergency surgery.  Shocked and confused I was loaded in to a helicopter and transported to the U and upon arrival was prepped for surgery.  My wife and kids met me as I was being wheeled in to surgery, I can safely assume she was driving over the speed limit to meet me with the kids and to pray.

The surgery lasted many hours, and the end result was they had surgically wrapped my aorta with a Gortex sleave. They had repaired the Type A Dissection and had detected a second thoracic dissection that we now monitor closely and is controlled by beta blockers. Within a few days I was released from the hospital, I don't sleep well in hospitals or next to snoring roommates, so made the wrong decision to stop taking my pain meds so that I could have a bowel movement and be released. 

At this point in the story, I'd like to say that the emotional trauma that this event caused was significant.  My entire life I have been driven to work hard, to work hard towards ideas of success.  To make more money, to achieve status, and to be in a position of power.  I was driven.  This event caused me to begin to look out of my office window and to begin asking some serious questions about my life.  Questions of meaning, of fulfillment, of satisfaction.  I peered out my window for many months and stopped moving.  

Almost a year after the surgery I experienced a Pulmonary Embolism.  I can only attribute the PE to my lack of movement in life as the doctors weren't able to locate the origin of the clot.  This is significant, I had stopped moving, I was stuck.  I've come to believe that this heart event triggered me to begin to ask different questions about my life and that the PE was further evidence that I needed to get moving. 

The crisis has been my greatest challenge, it is forcing me to evaluate my life, my values, and my ideas of success. It is also causing me to change my perspectives on relationships with my self, others, and my work.  It is a passage that I am now comitted to walking and that requires caring for my soul and understanding that as I care for my soul I impact the relationships in my life in a healthier, more conscious and positive way.

Thank you for welcoming me to the community.


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Comment by Troy DeSmet on October 3, 2016 at 13:47

Gregory,  I'm contemplating doing the same.  How has it been for you?

Jeff, honestly, I've been having more health issues since my AD.  Blood Clot, Nerve issues in my neck, and just went through hell with Parsonage Turner Syndrome this past summer.  Other than that, I'm doing well ... kids are good, marriage is good, and businesses are doing well. 


Comment by Gregory Smith on October 1, 2016 at 17:09

Troy, I think a near death experience causes us all to re-evaluate our lives and reconsider what is important to us. For me, I was close to retirement when my AD hit so I took early retirement, cashed in my pension, bought a new motorbike and decided to have as much fun as life would allow me.

Comment by Jeff Frank on June 10, 2016 at 17:29

Hey Troy -

Thanks for sharing your story.  How are you doing?  



Comment by Graeme on May 1, 2016 at 15:00

Hi Troy,

I am now 13 years out from my dissection..and have discovered it is now a complete type A and not only dissected from aorta past aortic arch but all the way now down to my Illiac arteries in legs. Docs shake their heads and say.. how? Is ay.. life is for living.. get out and live it!My story is here. Don't be afraid to get in touch with any of us.. we are all survivors and here to help one another! .. Cheers :-) Graeme

Comment by Kimberlee Jones on April 30, 2016 at 19:52

 I am 10 1/2 years out from my dissection now, so I try to stay active and help our new members as they begin their journey through recovery. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.



Comment by Troy DeSmet on April 29, 2016 at 13:42

Hi Kimberlee,

Thanks for welcoming me Kimberlee.

Physically I feel very good, and mentally I try to take one day at a time.  The most difficult piece was anxiety after the operation, though my support system has been wonderful.

Thank you again Kimberlee for welcoming me, and I wish you the very best.  I see you're an active member here so I will undoubtedly be welcoming your input as time goes on.



Comment by Kimberlee Jones on April 28, 2016 at 23:43

Welcome Troy and thank you for sharing your story.  Quite an adventure you had. I hope we can help you with any questions you may have or just be a support for you. It helps to read through others stories, we are quite a bunch with very different stories. How are you feeling now? Physically and mentally. I found the mental recovery took much longer than the physical. Glad you found us and look forward to getting to know you.




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