Aortic dissection & aortic aneurysm information support group

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

     Today is the one year anniversary of possibly the worst day of my life a type A an b dissection and aortic aneurysm. By all accounts of the doctors and nurses who treated me I should be dead. This is how it went down.

     It was a typical day for me in Hood River Oregon.  As usual I was up early to catch the fresh powder that had once again fallen on Mt Hood Meadows. I had moved from Alaska in November of the previous year so I could be around my family, ski some different areas and maybe even move down to the south of the U.S. to get some sun for the winter. It was up in the air as to what I was going to do for sure, but I needed to get out of Alaska for the winter as I had spent 30 winters there already. Note: Alaska winters are long and harsh. I was supposed to go south for work right after the new year but the snow never quit falling and the skiing was great. With the help of my girlfriend I decided to stay one more month and make good on my ski pass. This was the 25th day of skiing for me this year and I wanted to break my record of 68 days in one season. I had skied the day before with my brother and he was supposed to ski again with me. He had a sick child and had to decline. This was not a problem for me I as I have skied a large portion of my life alone. With no indication of anything physically wrong I made the one hour trip to the mountain and was in line to catch the second chair of a beautiful 14 inch powder day. I was in fine form and great shape and could not wait to get first lines of some of slopes that had not been open all week and should have had great powder. My first run of the day was on a run called "Powder Keg" a run that is only opened if the conditions are right. It had been open the day before and my brother and I had made several runs down it including one that I had taken a very hard fall. I added this because I still believe this may have had something to do with the AD. I cut the traverse to the Powder Keg run and was slightly out of breath. This did not concern me as this is a long and hard traverse even if it is already established. I cut the first line on this run and skied to the lift to try and make it back to the same run and ski my own figure eight. When I got to the lift line I was completely  out of breath to the point of hyper ventilating. Again I was not really worried I just thought wow what a great run. I loaded on the lift and by the time I got to the top the pain had started. But again I just wrote it off as overdoing it and continued on. I made the second run down Powder Keg and I did cut my own figure eight. Once again I skied to the bottom and loaded on the lift. By this time I was in a great deal of pain and was questioning my ability to ski. When I off loaded at the top I could hardly stand up. It was at this point I knew something was wrong. I started to ski down the easiest way I could find. This took me about 15 minutes because I had to keep stopping due to the pain. By the time I got to my truck the pain was so severe I could not stand up straight and my right leg was completely numb from lack of blood circulation. I removed my ski boots and loaded my gear again in a great amount of pain. Not knowing what was wrong I decided to head to the hospital in Hood River. I must note this is a very small town with a very limited hospital. As I began the drive the pain was so severe that I had to stop several times to get out of the vehicle and catch my breath. The normal one hour trip took almost twice as long due to the number of times I had stopped. I did not make it all the way. I had called my girlfriend on the trip down and she had started to come up the mountain to meet me as I had told here I did not think I could make it to the hospital on my own. The last time I stopped I could not get back in the truck and drive the pain was to severe. Thank the Lord Lori showed up ten minutes later picked me up and continued the trip to the ER room and additional fifteen minutes. When I arrived at the ER they had decided it was gallstones and gave me morphine for the pain and did a CT scan. The first scan was negative but the pain was unbearable so they decided to do one more scan to see what was wrong and this is when they saw the problem. As I said before They found a type A and B AD and an aneurysm. The last thing I recall was being loaded in a life flight and headed to Portland Oregon for surgery. By the time I skied down, drove to the hospital and was life flighted, it was more than three hours and they were not sure if I would arrive for surgery alive. I woke up four days later in the ICU hooked to the medical machines keeping me alive. It was eleven days before I left the hospital and two weeks before I started walking again. It was only by the grace of the Lord that a number of things that could have happened did not. i.e. stroke, kidney failure ect. I left the hospital a whole man. Now at one year I feel good and hopeful I can have a long a normal life. I cannot say this year was not stressful, I think every time I feel a little pain this could be it. But with the help of my family and friends and now this group of survivors I have the feeling it is all good. I have not skied since that day and I do not think I will ski today even though there is fresh powder on the mountain. But I will ski again. That is how it went down for me. Thanks for reading this and thanks for being here and letting me express my feelings and thoughts. Wayne. Hood River Oregon U.S.A..

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Comment by Nicola McMeekin on January 20, 2014 at 11:29

Hi Wayne,  Happy anniversary for the 10th.  

Wow, your story is amazing, it is incredible what the human body can endure.  Keep us updated on when you feel up to skiing again. Your first anniversary is a great milestone to reach, may you have many more.


Comment by Richard Deal on January 14, 2014 at 10:42


as with all survivor stories i read, wow!

ADs can be brought on by blunt force trauma (most commonly steering wheels to the chest), so maybe the knock the day before sowed a seed. nonetheless you have an awful lot thank your surgical team and post operative carers for!

take care,


Comment by Kimberlee Jones on January 12, 2014 at 22:01

I love reading survivor stories, I can't express how much human endurance astounds me.  You are a survivor!  Congratulations on the 1 year anniversary...that first year is the hardest both physically and mentally.  Glad you are here with to celebrate and here is to many many more anniversaries to come.




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