Personal Stories: Brad Boyd


HI Brian,
I may have written to you a few months ago, but I don't remember. In July 2004 I was at work, and feeling bad. Like I had eaten something that didn't agree with me. I came home an hour early and went into the restroom. I experienced an awful tearing sensation from my chest up into my lower throat it seemed. I became dizzy and had trouble catching my breath so I laid down on the bed, then wondered if I was having a heart attack. I cringed at the thought of my wife and young son coming in to find me on the bed so I called 911.

They arrived and said that while my vitals were normal, the Nitro that they used, which helped a little, indicated a probable Coronary Problem. I went to ER and they diagnosed me with Acid Reflux, and told me I could leave. Thankfully, another doctor in the ER remembered these symptoms and John Ritter dying, so recommended that I have a CT scan. This revealed a tear and aneurysm of the ascending aorta. I was hurriedly prepped for emergency surgery. When I awoke, which made me very happy, by the way, I discovered I had also had a new valve installed to replace what was found to be a bicuspid aortic valve, as well as a Dacron graft to repair the affected area. I went home seven days later and returned to work six weeks after that.


Unfortunately, in March 2005 I began having chest pains again and went back to the Cardiologist, who performed another CT and found, you guessed it, another aortic dissection. This one extends through my abdominal aorta into both legs and I have what is called a "double barreled aorta", meaning that blood has forced it's way between the linings of the aorta and formed a second, parallel path for blood to flow. After a week in the hospital the group of doctors decided, with Baylor Med Center's concurrence, that treatment with drugs and regular CT scans to monitor the dissection is good for now.

I hope that the doctors are correct in their assessment that I have a fairly low risk of a rupture, and that surgery is a last resort if a tear occurs. The surgery in question will be more invasive than the last one, as it would involve opening the entire abdomen and replacing the entire aorta, which I would just as soon pass, on. Anyone who reads this who experiences similar symptoms, PLEASE ask for a second opinion if you are told it is something simple. Your body will tell you something is wrong. Listen! Better over-cautious than dead, and it is your body, and not the doctor's!

Best Wishes,
Brad Boyd


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