Personal Stories: Barbara Steven

I'm a 60 year old female who I thought was in relatively good health until on a Friday evening last June when I got home from work and started experiencing some unusual chest pains. I finally had my son call the local squad and that's the last I remember..them putting me in the ambulance.

I woke up a week later in a Columbus hospital (100) miles from where I live) and learned I was life-flighted there by helicopter. I had been on a respirator for several days and all I could remember were terrible nightmares and pain. I was so weak I couldn't hold a paper cup of ice. I didn't understand what any of the nurses or doctors had told me at that point as I was still weak and on heavy medication. After some additional tests, they sent me by ambulance to the Cleveland Clinic from Columbus.

I was in ICU for 5 days there and that's when the doctors started explaining to me I had a descending aortic dissection B and an aneurysm. I'm still not totally clear on all of this. They told me at Cleveland that they wouldn't do surgery at this point as it was too risky and usually the aneurysm had to reach 6 (whatever) before they'd consider surgery. Controlling my blood pressure is the most important factor they tell me.

I've been back to Cleveland twice since then as my blood pressure was out of control both times and the local hospital life-flighted me to Cleveland. I've had 3 cat scans since last June and have one scheduled for next week on my chest, abdomen and pelvis. Having this done locally. I am depressed most of the time and when I finally got the nerve to ask one of the doctors in Cleveland how long I had to live he said "that's in the hands of the Lord". I want a clearer answer than that ( a medical answer) but at the same time am afraid of what I'll hear.

I can't really enjoy life now as this is always on my mind and I feel as though I'm walking on eggshells. I am a Christian and attend church regularly but I just can't seem to shake the "doom and gloom" feeling I always have. If anyone can share with me something positive about your experiences I'd surely appreciate it. I know I've rambled on and on but this is the first time I've really talked to anyone much about this. Everyone now (at work) and at home seem to avoid the subject and I feel like I'm being pitied all the time which I don't care for. Please someone, I could use some encouragement. Thanks!

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