Updated: May 3, 2022
April 13, 2021 while I was at work, I suffered my Type A dissection.
It hit so sudden. I felt completely fine up until that very moment. It was around 3:30 in the afternoon, it felt like I swallowed a gas bubble or something and just couldn't really catch my breath, but I wasn't gasping for air or anything.
I actually finished my route (I drove for UPS) and clocked out around 7:00 that night. I drove home, couldn't get comfortable to lay in bed that night to go to sleep, so around 2:30 in the morning I drove myself to the ER. I instantly told the lady something serious was wrong and I was most likely dying. She stated, "How do you know that?!?!" I said, "I wouldn't be here, if I wasn't" I come from a very long line of ignorance when it comes to doctors. We just don't go to the doctor. (Or at least I didn't, I now have about 9 different ones).
As it turned out, I required immediate surgery. What was stated to my wife was the surgery would last 6 hours, however, that quickly became an 11 hour surgery. I suffered many cerebral strokes, that initial surgery. My chest was left open for a week, due to not knowing if the graph would hold because of high blood pressure. Turns out the high blood pressure was caused by a positive covid result. (Having a wife who is a nurse, occasionally pays off when she gets demanding of tests etc.)
I woke up a month later in May. Its a very hard thing hearing. Still crushes me to this day, that I was in a coma for a month. When I woke up, I couldn't walk, talk, eat etc. Something I'm sure several people have had to deal with. I ended up going to a rehab facility and was told I would be there for 3-4 months on my initial day due to not even being able to hold my head up, I was there for 3 weeks and 1 day. Stubborness to get home to my pups, was what drove me. I then did 6 weeks of outpatient rehab and am now a "house husband" as my wife calls me.
I will never be able to go back to driving for UPS, due to the lifting limit of 25 pounds as well as the blood thinners I am still on. The strokes have left me with some neuropathy in my left quadricep, and fogginess is sometimes an issue with thinking. I've developed a somewhat stutter due to not being able to get my words out there.
There are a couple things I remember most out of waking up and not being able to communicate. I've found that the thought of dying did not in anyway scare me, what scared me was not saying goodbye. I couldn't write it, I couldn't speak it. And looking back, it was my biggest worry. Also, on April 14th my grandfather went into the hospital that morning for a heart attack about 6 hours into my surgery. He died three days later. Not being able to be there for my grandmother, mother, my younger brother (who is also the one who told me) and not being able to say or do anything other than squeeze his hand. Still crushes me. I read a post the other day from Aortic Hope and it said something like, "The day you can tell your story, and not cry, is the day your heart has healed". Mine clearly hasn't, cause it gets me almost daily. The thought of death, doesn't in any way scare me. Not being able to say goodbye? Does!
If I have taken anything away from this, it is this, Hold those close to you tightly, love them and let them know you do, before this happened, I didn't show this love, I didn't go out and have fun and do things, and thought I was actually happy. I get wore out really easy now, but I go to the gym daily, I go on walks and hikes when the weather is cooperative, I go to the river now on the weekends to spend time with my family that I never did before. We take so much for granted and why?
I now am enrolled in school. Something I would have never have done had this not happen. I actually enjoy it and look forward to it. I now pay all the bills and task myself with keeping up with those. Something my wife used to have to do, due to my carelessness and unappreciative self. I look forward to posts I see on social media from Aortic Hope, it gets me through knowing I am not alone. My wife journaled literally every detail of my time in a coma and my time right before going to the rehab facility. That woman worked 12 hour days at her facility and somehow still stayed with me every day I was in the hospital, only leaving my side to go to work and to come home to our 2 fur girls and shower etc. That right there is true love and inspiration for me to be a better man than I was. I do not in anyway deserve that woman, and God knows, she saved my life and continues to do so never even batting an eye.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it!!!