Aortic dissection & aortic aneurysm information support group

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

Hi.I've just joined this group so am finding my way around the site. By way of introduction I thought i'd share a bit about myself. Hope that's OK .I'm 62 and (was) in good shape until recently .I had an uncomfortable feeling in my chest one day whilst driving  to an appointment. I put it down to a panic attack-in lieu of anything else to attribute it to! When my relaxation didn't work I scuttled off to my GP who thought it was due to over doing things at the gym. "Go home.Go to bed for a couple of hours. If you don't feel any better, go to A&E." I went to A&E who did a range of tests .All bar one came back as fine. The aberrant one mattered, apparently. So back next day for more tests. We were quite nonchalant. I was in good health. What could they find? What was found was an aorta already badly torn which would kill me in the next 12 hours without surgery. I ended up at Papworth hospital at midnight where a surgeon was already waiting for me. 

When they took me out of the medically induced coma I was on the ward hooked up to a heart monitor. I was there for about 10 days. This happened this February. My heart has been repaired with a mechanical valve. I am still ayrhthmic with some atrial fibrillation.

 I'm furious. Nobody asked if I wanted this problem! I kept the health rules. And still I get hit with this. I don't do calm resignation very well. So, that's my very brief autobiography.

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Comment by Terry Burridge on May 16, 2015 at 8:58
Thank you Norma and Kimberlee. That helps. All this has coincided with my retirement so I tend to have too much time to worry! I'm aiming to do some volunteering so I keep myself gainfully occupied and give other folk some support.
Comment by Kimberlee Jones on May 15, 2015 at 23:51

I do not take antidepressants myself. I get down sometimes, but who doesn't? As for the bursting in tears...yep that is me. I don't mind so much though, glad I'm still here and glad I'm still human. Talk with your doctor he/she will be able to advise you on your choices. You've been through a lot, it will take time to heal and mentally always takes longer.



Comment by norma bell on May 15, 2015 at 18:28

Terry I think Kimberlee hit the nail on the head with PTSD.  I'm sure there's an element of it after this type of surgery.  I listened to a programme on Radio 4 not long ago about PTSD following time spent in ITUs and they reckoned at least half of patients suffered to differing degrees.  I probably wasnt "myself" for about a year after having a valve replacement and that was fairly minor in comparison to what you've been through.  I felt stupid and never told anyone the things that were going on in my head (I hardly remember anything but I felt violated and like you my mood was all over the place).  I dont know if antidepressants would have helped but I think being able to say out loud the terrible things that were going on in my head would have helped I often wondered if a counsellor would have helped.

I hope you start having more good days than bad soon.  Pour it all out here and be patient with yourself. Have you got support at home? 

Comment by Terry Burridge on May 15, 2015 at 16:03

"Watch for signs of depression" cautions Kimberlee. I'm not sure if i'm clinically depressed-probably not- but my mood is horribly labile. I seem to burst into tears at the slightest thing. Or at nothing! There isn't necessarily an obvious trigger. Is this standard? I'm mildly wondering  about taking an anti depressant but am loathe to add any more medication to my list.

Comment by Kimberlee Jones on May 14, 2015 at 21:12

Welcome Terry and thank you for sharing your story. I understand your anger, be careful to watch for signs of depression. So many survivors suffer from depression or PTSD due to their medical adventures. I was 31y/o and 34weeks pregnant when my aorta dissected. December will be 10yrs and I went through and emotional roller coaster for years after my initial AD. I wish you the best of luck for continued health and recovery.



Comment by norma bell on May 14, 2015 at 20:05

Hi Terry.  I had a mechanical aortic valve 5 yrs ago (congenital bi-leaflet valve finally became severely stenosed) at Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester.  Now need the ascending arch replaced with a dacron graft and possibly a new valve. I found out just before Christmas and am waiting to be listed, probably July, meanwhile living with 10% risk of dissection/rupture and 10% mortality risk at surgery BUT the odds of success from elective surgery are immeasurably better than emergency (lucky me).  

Papworth - good call - you must have had a really good team they are world renowned.  Wythenshawe are the north west transplant centre so hopefully I'll benefit from all that experience but its a bit worrying waiting for so long because they only have two surgeons who specialise in aortic surgery and one of the is off sick!

I spend the last 20 years practice nursing - health promotion AAAARGH! I retired at Christmas when I found out a needed surgery, I didnt feel I could look another smoking/drinking/obese patient in the eye whilst thinking how mad I'd be if they lived longer than me! Anyway I'm 64 so it was time anyway.

I find it difficult to work my way round the site but if you want to press the button and request me to be a friend we can exchange e mails.  Remember its random.  Take it easy.

Comment by Terry Burridge on May 14, 2015 at 19:46
Thanks Norma. I also nursed for 30 years- Mental Health- hence assuming my symptoms were psychosomatic! I sometimes think things would have been easier ( for me) if I'd died. No side effects or anxiety that way! No future either! It infuriates me to see a whole lot of people around me who are overweight, smoke etc, etc, but who seem to have charmed lives.( Pardon my furious envy!)
Where and when are you headed for surgery?
Comment by norma bell on May 14, 2015 at 19:03

Hi Terry, welcome to the group.  I know that feeling! I'm waiting for surgery and people keep telling me how lucky I am that my aneurysm's been found before it has a chance to dissect, which is odd because it doesnt feel lucky it feels like I'm about to volunteer to be in a car crash. Like you I followed all the rules but unfortunately picked the wrong parents (congenital problems).  

I've worked as a nurse for 40 years and it does pay to look after yourself (you've survived really high risk surgery so your general fitness has paid off and will continue to) but despite all that experience telling me how random ill health and accidents are it doesnt feel fair.

Have a good rant every now and then, I hope you're feeling a little better/stronger every day.  



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