My fiancée, Randall Horn, was 32 years old when he unexpectedly passed from an aortic dissection. Our first sign of any problem was 6 weeks prior to his death. It was Sept 5, 2022. Our whole house had gotten covid. My son and I had it and didn’t have any issues. We were sick and healed. My fiancée was the last one to get it. He complained of severe pain in his right lower abdomen. He went to the hospital on several occasions saying he was in severe pain. The hospital did a CT scan. They did urine samples and blood tests. They decided that the problem was likely caused by kidney stones that had already passed. Everything appeared to be normal according to the hospital staff, so they gave him some pain medicine and sent him home each and every time he visited. After 4 days of this miserable pain, he seemed to be feeling back to normal. He went back to work. Everything seemed okay. He never complained of any more pain or any problems.
On Oct 23, 2022, Randall went on a call for work and arrived home around 10:00 pm. At this time, he was complaining of really bad heart burn. He had taken some antacids and laid down. About 30 minutes later he was saying that the pain was in his back. He tried to stick it out for a while thinking maybe it would go away. I am sure he was fed up with the hospital at this point for sending him home so many times during his previous encounters. I had gotten my son to sleep and was going to sleep myself. As I was lying in bed, I heard my fiancée get up and go outside. This wasn’t outside of the norm for him. What I didn’t know is that he was actually in such severe pain he decided to go to the hospital, and he didn’t even tell me he was going. Probably because he thought I was asleep already and just in too much pain to care. At 12:30am my fiancée arrived home from the hospital. I didn’t know until later that he had left the hospital against medical advice. The hospital had suspected that he had a blood clot in his lungs. I’m not sure what they told my fiancée or if they told him specifically what they thought was wrong with him, but he left the hospital. Against doctors’ orders. At this time, I believe he was probably just irritated thinking they were going to tell him nothing was wrong again.
So, he comes home and he’s up all night and he is hurting. I assumed at this point that he had been to the hospital and they told him there was nothing wrong. This is what had happened many times before. At around 6am I got up and came into the living room where he was laying trying to get his back to quit hurting. He wasn’t really responding to me much, so I got his phone and texted his boss that he wasn’t going to come in. I got my son up and took him to school and came home. I work at home so I started logging into my computer in the office.
Just as I had started logging in for my workday, I heard a crash. I came running out of the office and my fiancée was laying on the ground on his back. I asked him what happened? Are you okay? I was confused and scared. I didn’t really know what was happening. So, I helped him get to the toilet, that is where he was heading. When he got to the toilet, he leaned his head back and at this point I knew something was extremely wrong. His face was a tinted green color. His lips were the color of skin, not pink like the color of lips. His eyes were beginning to roll back in his head, and I started to panic. I started yelling are you okay? I am going to call 911 so if you are okay please say something now! He didn’t respond. I called 911 at 7:58am and pleaded for them to get an ambulance here FAST. The ambulance crew arrived, they had to come into the bathroom and get my fiancée off the toilet and onto a stretcher. My fiancée had no strength at this point. We were telling them about the issues and the paramedics said, does he have diabetes? The symptoms sound like diabetes or kidney stones. They get him loaded up into the ambulance and rush him to the hospital.
I got in my car and drove as fast as I could to the hospital. I was taken directly back to the room to be with him. The nurses then made me aware that my fiancée had left the hospital the night before against doctors’ orders and that they had suspected he had a blood clot in his lungs. I tell my fiancee they believe he has a blood clot in his lungs, and he said, “oh great”. I had suffered blood clots before, so he knew these were nothing to mess with. From his arrival for about hour, nurses were coming in and drawing blood and discussing with me does he take blood thinners, had he ever had a blood clot, etc. The nurses were joking around that he didn’t take blood thinners “yet” because at this time all we knew was that there was a suspected blood clot in his lungs. After the first hour they finally got him back to do a CT scan. Little did we know what was to come. They discovered the dissection. I overheard them talking while bringing him back to the room and I heard the word “aneurysm” so when they brought him around the corner and he looked the same as he did when they left I felt relief. I told the nurse, “I thought I heard you say aneurysm, so I started to panic”. She looked at me with fear filled eyes and said, “You heard right”. This is the moment the panic set in. I started to cry. I got close to my fiancées face and told him that they found an aneurysm and that I was really worried about him and that they were going to get the helicopter there to life flight him and that I would be right behind him as fast as I could.
The doctor came in the room and was on the phone with the other hospital trying to get the helicopter to head out. It was raining so they were saying they weren’t going to be able to send the helicopter at that moment. I was at the foot of the bed crying. My fiancée looked to me and he mouthed “I love you” and I mouthed “I love you” back. Right after, he had the severe pain in his abdomen and the nurses kicked me out. They tried to get the clot out, but it was too late. The dr came into the little room they had me in with the Chaplin and told me that he was no longer with us. How could this be? My precious young healthy fiancée is just no longer with us?? She told me that he had a blood clot and when this blood clot was travelling, it was tearing his aorta the whole way from his abdomen to his lungs and that he essentially bled to death.
My fiancée was an extremely tall and skinny man. 6’ 5” and about 150 pounds. Very thin. The doctor asked me if he had Marfan syndrome and I don’t know if he did or not. What I do know is that had somebody known or suspected aortic dissection or even aortic aneurysm, he could have been properly diagnosed before it was too late. He had been to the hospital on several occasions in severe pain. Several CT scans were done 6 weeks prior and nothing was ever found. I don’t know if it was missed or if there was no clot there at the time. There is a lot of unknowns.
The solid facts are that if these doctors thought for one second that he may be experiencing dissection, they could have taken a whole different course of action. They could have done things so differently that my fiancée may have survived. I do not blame the hospital, I do not blame myself, I do not blame previous doctors for not ever just even wondering why he was so tall.
Because of this experience, what I will take on as my own responsibility is to spread awareness of this deadly and not very well known about silent killer. Maybe because of the pain that my fiancée suffered and the pain I have suffered, spreading awareness can be the silver lining.
If I could tell anybody anything from my experience it would be to always be your own biggest advocate. If you are in pain and the hospital isn’t doing anything, go somewhere else. Get a second opinion. Continue to seek help for yourself. If something feels wrong, don’t doubt yourself. I wish I could turn back time and take him to a more advanced hospital during our first signs. Instead, I trusted that the hospital knew what they were doing and that he would be okay.