Aortic dissection, aortic aneurysm - The aorta - Life after an aortic dissection
January of this year, my husband and I were in FL. I returned home on a Friday, the following Monday, he called me at work from a local ER - there was good news and bad news he said....the good news was he didn't appear to be having a heart attack, the bad news was they weren't sure what was happening. I told him he would be fine (that's what I wanted to believe) and he said they were getting ready to transport him to a larger hospital, about an hour away.
(My husband had gained quite a bit of weight over the past few years and had high blood pressure as well as other assorted problems. Retrospectively, I realize there were signs of heart failure - swollen legs (which his GP seemed to ignore), feeling bloated, sleeping more than usual. But at the time, back in January, I couldn't believe this would be anything more than a generic heart attack, he would pull through and after the "wake up call" would get serious about his health.)
Next call was from the hospital - he mentioned "crushing pain" and was quickly taken to surgery so there wasn't time to talk. That night I spoke to his cardiac surgeon who said although my husband underwent a catastrophic event, ascending aortic dissection with aneurysm, he had come through surgery surprisingly well, especially considering his condition when he arrived in the OR. The surgeon anticipated my husband would be out of icu at the end of the week.
My husband did not do well with intubation after surgery and had post operative pneumonia. He spent a little over a week (it's all a blur so not sure if that's exactly right) in cardiac icu before finally being transferred to pulmonary icu. He was there at least a week - at my last visit, the pulmonary doctor came in and said from a lung perspective my husband was fine to go home BUT from a cardiac perspective -the cardiologist would need to decide. A major problem after surgery was constant AF - he was on AF medication and had been given a bolus of Coumadin. On my husband's last day he was standing, tubes out, looking forward, he hoped, to leaving the hospital by the weekend (probably overly optimistic but he desperately wanted to leave).
My husband died that night.
There were so many thoughts - how could he survive the hour drive to the hospital, the surgery - all the hell after the surgery only to be brought down (presumably by thrombosis) when he was so close to going home...and always in the grieving process the wish to have him back....and in one of those awful moments of grief I suddenly realized - had he survived he would not have been the person he was prior to the dissection - the person I was so desperate to have back would not have come back regardless of the outcome - and so I needed to understand what his life would have been like had he survived aortic dissection.
I can't thank you enough for sharing your stories.
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