Personal Stories: Brock Fraley

I had been working a lot of hours at work and remodeling a house with the little time I had left. I was working on the house (putting up a closet rod in the bedroom) when I felt something flip me in the chest. Moment later I was on the floor trying to crawl to the living room couch. I was unable to stand and in to much pain to yell for help. I thought I had done something to my back.

I  was on the couch for about 15 minutes, constantly moving and rotating around, trying to find a position that didn't hurt. My wife finally said she was going to take me to the hospital, and with some arguing, I gave in and decided to go. At this point in my life I had never been injured, never been really sick, and had never even sit on a hospital bed.

The hospital was about 35 minutes from our house and it seemed liked the longest trip I had ever taken. About half way there my chest started to hurt. The only way I could describe the pain was it felt like something was pulling my shoulders back while a truck was parked on my chest. I WAS IN REAL PAIN.

We finally made it to the hospital and luckily went right to a bed from the emergency room. I told the nurse of my back and chest pain. After jotting a few notes down she left my wife and me in the little curtained area. I was constantly moving trying to find some comfort and a doctor noticed my movements through the curtain. He stuck his head in and asked if I was having a lot of discomfort and asked me to tell the story again of why I was there. He then said he was rushing me to have a ct scan. I kept asking him if he could see my back with a ct scan. He just told me to remain calm and not worry just let him do what he was trained to do. After the scan they were rushing me down a hallway and he was running beside of us saying that I had a tear in my aorta that was 22" long and that they were not equipped to handle that kind of surgery. He told me that he had a helicopter ready to take me to a hospital that could help me and that if I wanted to survive the trip I needed to stay calm.

During the flight nothing excited happened. I just lay on the cot and talked to the paramedic (I guess I was pretty pumped up on pain medicine or I was in shock). When we landed I was rushed into the hospital. I can't remember much, except for throwing up a lot (a whole lot) of blood. I remember my family freaking out with I began to throw up blood and the doctors telling them to leave.

Next thing I remember is waking up and the doctor telling me that I was stable and that they were going to treat it with medicine and see if it would heal itself. I was in the hospital for 19 days. On the 19th day the doctors told me that would give me a ct scan and if everything was well they would let me go home. So they took me down and I had the test and was brought back to my room. I was told if the test came back "o.k" I would be allowed to leave. Shortly the doctor came in the room and said something I will never forget, "The dissection is continuing to tear. It is doing something very uncommon and is tearing upward and is 1/16 of an inch from the artery that go to your brain. We must do surgery immediately. This surgery is going to be very dangerous and you may not make it through it. You should contact you family."

Needless to say, I lived. The doctors replaced 6" of my aorta and bypassed my subclavian artery. They will continue to monitor the other 16" that remained dissected. I now go to Cleveland Clinic to get scans and when it reaches 5.5cm I will have another surgery. My life has changed tremendously and I really don't like the lifestyle I have been forced to live. I'm now 34 years old and have a life threatening illness.

Contact Brock 


Man when life wants to get hard,,,,,it really gets hard.

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