Aortic dissection & aortic aneurysm information support group

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

Where to start ?!  I am a female 10 year survivor of a thoracic dissection.  I am 61 now.  I was just told a few weeks ago that I have an abdominal aneurysm that is being followed.  I was not happy to hear that as obviously my cardiologist had decided that I did not need to know !  My troubles evidently started at birth....I was born with a very audible heart murmur.  This was commented on every time my heart was listened to.  This evidently was precursor of what was to come.  Also my dad had open-heart surgery in the 60's and had a mitral valve replaced. I always said they could do anything to me but I did not want heart surgery.  Right ! 

      In 2002 my troubles really esculated.  On Mother's Day we (my new husband and my mother ) were in the car arriving at a restaurant when I had the most excruciating pain in my head.  My husband looking in the rear-view mirror at me saw the level of my discomfort and asked if I wanted to go to the Blue H.  I said yes !  We then proceeded to go to the local hospital where every test under the sun was administered to me.  They came up with nothing.  I went to my primary physician the next day and he too wasn't at all sure what was wrong !  By that time the pain had migrated into my upper back and was constant.  For 2 weeks I lived with this and will be forever greatful for the care my hubby gave me. I basically just stayed in bed !  My husband had a routine appt. with his primary and thank goodness I go in with him......the doctor took one look at me and said I needed the appt. more than my hubby.  After an examination he said he wanted me to go to the hospital to find out exactly what was going on.  Note here:  this was a different hospital than where I had been 2 weeks prior.  After some extensive testing they decided that I had an aortic dissection.  I was then transferred to a larger affiliated facility for surgery.

     I have been told that after arriving there and being prepped I had 6 hours of surgery.  I coded 3 times and was pronounced dead.  My surgeon however was not willing to give up and basically said "Hit her again !"  Obviously it worked !  After 3 days I woke up in the Cardiac ICU.  My recovery was slow but fairly routine.  My biggest issue was because of the extensive oxygen deprivation I have major memory , balance problems, and black outs.  All of this has continued for the last 10 years.  More later........

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Comment by Alison J. Pierce on January 20, 2012 at 19:00

Kimberlee, Good to hear from you again.  Yes, my husband and I are a pair.  He lost his first wife to a 5 year battle with breast cancer and I lost my husband to an undiagnosed sudden heart attack.  We met on and the rest is history.  I really feel that had I not met and married Dave I would definitely not be here.  Had I been single working and basically alone I know I would have ignored my symptoms and probably just died.  Dave recognized that my condition was unusual and serious and treated me as such.  Now he is a virtual invalid himself and I pretty much take care of most of his needs along with mine.  Believe me it is not easy !  We have a major transportation problem as neither of us can drive and there is no public service available.  More later......

Comment by Kimberlee Jones on January 20, 2012 at 14:51


10yrs!!!! I was actually told that AD survivors can live a normal life hopefully I was told the truth. I had my dissection 6yrs ago, followed my an aneurysm in the same location about a month later.  The did repair the dissection but they are "watching" the is currently at 5.4cm.

I also understand that bipolar feeling you're describing...I have my good days and my bad and there is never an event to preclude either one...I just generally fall into my bad days for no reason.

Your husband sounds like a wonderful man....and I'm happy you have him. Sounds like he is just what you need.

I look forward to getting to know you more.



Comment by Alison J. Pierce on January 16, 2012 at 22:23

To continue...I can't say every day has been wonderful...that would be a lie !  I can relate to the bi-polar symptom as some days I am up and some days way down.  I have no idea how and why my husband stays with me !  He says he loves me and I believe it because some days I am a real "bitch".  Hope I didn't offend anyone but that is the only word that adequately describes me at times.  Of course, everyday I am thankful for being a ten year survivor.

Comment by Alison J. Pierce on January 10, 2012 at 18:07

Harry, duh !  I had not ever thought of the freezing bit but you are probably right on the money.  I have the double whammy of having the oxygen deprivation due to the codes and the fleeting death.  It's not so much not remembering but....I forget I have been somewhere or done something or know someone.  Very unpredictable !  My husband is a saint and just laughs things off but sometimes it brings me to tears. I do have much more to tell and am glad and surprised I am such a source of hope.



Comment by Harry on January 10, 2012 at 11:05

HI, Alison,

10 years is indeed very encouraging. I managed 4 after my first AD before having to go back for a second time for a Dacron implant. Now being told I have 10 years plus, but who knows!

Understand the memory bit, more forgetful since the opp. I was in for over 13 hours & am pretty sure when they freeze you down it has an impact on the old brain cells.

Looking forward to the rest of your story.

Take Care


Comment by Richard Deal on January 10, 2012 at 10:39

hmmm.... maybe i should start planning for my retirement after all...



Comment by Alison J. Pierce on January 9, 2012 at 19:12

I was gathering by my reading that my ten might be somewhat phenomenal.  I had no idea !  I have been out here alone for a long time.  With the exception of my brother who lives a couple of hundred miles from me I knew no other survivors.  I do have alot more to tell.....and many questions.  I will be an active member.

Comment by Graeme on January 9, 2012 at 10:08

Hey Alison,


we are all thrilled you have made it here as well. Look forward to hearing all of your story as time goes by -  especially as you have racked up the big 10!






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