Personal Stories: Doug Johnson

Hello from NE Wisconsin:

Winter came early in Wisconsin this year. On the 9th of December, I was

blowing snow with the snow blower for two hours. If I am out with the snow

blower, I will blow snow for several of my neighbors in this residential


At 11 AM, I had a sudden pain in my chest, it felt like someone hit me with

a hammer. My heart was racing like a run away steam locomotive. My face

became instantly flushed. Something was wrong.

I was at my neighbors house when this pain hit me; I had to walk away from

the snow blower. When I went home, I took three aspirin and tried to recover

from whatever it was.

By 5:15, my heart was still racing. I drove myself to the ER here in town.

When I registered at the desk, I told the young lady that I had a heart

attack. The folks in the ER were quick to act with their EKG equipment.

But, a heart attack is not what so they stood down. It was thought that I had a

panic attack.

Do you know how this made me feel--that I was having a panic attack? This was six hours later--with this chest pain with a blood pressure of 179/70. I was terribly upset by the prognosis, because I knew that it was wrong. The admitting doctor was going to keep me over night  for observation and had me scheduled for a stress test on the next day.

The next day I got on their treadmill: the blood pressure test and EKG

looked good. I could go home and there were no restrictions to what I could

or could not do. By Thursday morning at 3:45 AM, my chest pain was back with a vengeance. I took six Ibuprofen and three nitro glycerin. Sometime in the mid morning I

decided to take myself into the first alert clinic. A doctor there had

thought to take some blood samples. One of the tests with the blood would

reveal a positive if there was a blood clot or some other serious event.

The doctor at the clinic told me to go directly to the hospital--don't go

home or anywhere else. I was told to go the radiology lab for a CT scan. A

CT scan revealed a positive something. I was taken to the ER right away.

In the ER, a technician was using an ultra sound device to pin point where

my ascending aortic dissection was.

The correct diagnosis for my ailment took 50 hours. Few people survive to

the moment when they are diagnosed properly. And, of course not every one

makes it through the surgery or post operative care either.

When I became conscious on Friday, December 12th, the ER doctor from Tuesday night came to my bedside and apologized for not making the correct diagnosis.

Although I am 53, I was a runner, running four miles a day--five times a

week. In October, my blood pressure was 120/70 and my cholesterol was 211.

When I had my staples removed, the physicians assistant told me that these

things are red herrings. Anything could have caused me to have this

condition--as it has for everyone else here. Perhaps it is an inherited



I have read many essays here--thank you everyone for contributing your story.

Doug Johnson

HomeAbout MeDisclaimer | Contact Us | Link To Us 2003-2008. All Rights Reserved. Everett, WA.