Personal Stories: Don Summers Jr.
My name is Don Summers and I will have my wife tell my story as I'm
rarely on the internet. On July 2, 2004 I was in my work vehicle &
came to a stop sign & had a pain between my shoulders. I turned the
corner & stopped to get out of my truck. I thought I had a cramp &
would just walk it off. I was standing next to the truck & was almost
brought to my knees with a ripping tearing sensation in my chest.
Luckily I had my cell phone on me & I dialed 911.
I was 59 years old and owned my own landscape & retail nursery
business. I'm 6'1" and weighed 175 lbs. I physically worked 7 days a
week. I had been taking blood pressure meds for a couple years. 3 days
before my dissection my blood pressure was 132/82. I was however a
Soon after I called 911 the ambulance came. I was taken to Everett
General Hospital which as Brian has said is in the top 5% in the
nation. By the time my wife & sons arrived Dr. Cook & the ER doctor
met us to tell us the prognosis. My aortic dissection is from barely
below the left carotid all the way to the groin. There is NO surgery
to fix this.
The immediate concern was the blood flow to my left leg. Dr. Cook
tried one procedure first but it did not work, so I was taken to
surgery. I had a graft across my tummy just below my navel to move the
blood to my leg & the surgery took about 3 hrs. I was out of it but
Dr. Cook explained everything in detail to my wife & sons. The surgery
was a success.
I was having some problems about 4 days after my surgery & was on
oxygen for a week. They thought I had some lung damage but it turned
out I didn't I was in the hospital for 2 1/2 weeks. I was heavily
sedated because every time I came around my BP would shoot up. I don't
remember anything since the ER for 2 weeks.
I was home 6 days & returned to the hospital because I had a
several infection at the graft site. I went in for surgery to take the
graft out & they took a vein from my left leg & buried it deeper to
make it an artery. They had to leave the incision open because if they
closed it would just become more infected. The wounds were very deep &
had to heal from the inside out. I was in the hospital 2 1/2 more
weeks and then home to heal. I do have some nerve damage in my leg.
My life has changed forever. I had to put my dear dog Barney age 13
to sleep. My wife & I have sold our large home to downsize. And we
sold both our business as I can no longer take care of things as I
used to. I take 5 different blood pressure meds a day & must keep the
top number around 110. I have a new job as the landscape inspector for
the local power company. I oversee the landscape maintenance of 100
sites, however I don't do any of the work. I will never be able to
lift more than 25 lbs. The only exercise I can do is walking. I am
cold all the time & I tire easily.
I just celebrated my 1st anniversary since my Aortic Dissection.
Each day gets better but it has been so tough as my whole life was my
home, property, & our 2 business. I am however a very lucky man. I had
terrific doctors and as my wife of 39 yrs. says God wasn't ready for