On November 8, 2018 I was driving to work and was about a mile from home. I suddenly felt a terrible pain in my upper back between my shoulder blades. I knew something didn’t feel right and I thought I might be having a heart attack. I decided to pull over and call 911. An ambulance came and took me to the hospital emergency room.
I told the emergency room doctor that I thought I was having a heart attack and they immediately took me to a room. The doctor stated that I didn’t present like I was having a heart attack, but he thought it might be a good idea to do a CAT scan just in case. He told me that it would be about 60 to 90 minutes before they would get the results back however, he returned to my room in just a couple of minutes and the look on his face was very scary. He said “you are one sick girl”.
I didn’t totally understand what he was saying other than that I had an aortic dissection. I didn’t have any idea what that meant at the time except that they said I needed emergency surgery. My youngest daughter was in the room with me, and I remember telling her that I was scared and then they gave me a enough morphine that I don’t remember anything more at that point.
I woke up from a medically induced coma eight days later not knowing what had happened. Within the next couple of days, I was told all the details of the previous eight days. I was operated on by a heart transplant surgeon that happened to be available. The operation took several hours, and I had a lot of bleeding since I was on a blood thinner due to afib that had started about a year prior to my dissection.
I had to have blood transfusions during the operation and afterwards my kidneys failed, I had to have dialysis, my lungs weren’t working properly and my family was told I didn’t have a high chance of survival. It was touch and go for the first few days but eventually they woke me up and I am now a survivor.
I continue to have a lot of physical and mental issues related to my dissection and am now on disability. My life has changed dramatically but I am happy to be alive even with all the changes.