Personal Stories: Duane

I spoke w/you on the phone the other day. My name is Duane. I, as I told you also had an Aortic Dissection. Mine felt like a burst in my chest around 2p.m. on Dec. 16 2003.

I was 31 years old at the time and since have been blessed w/my 32nd birthday. Any how; on the 16th of Dec. I was removed from the area where I work, which can be considered a stressful environment! I was moved to the facility's hospital where I was given nitro to slow down my heart. I refused to stay down even so far as to become combative.

At 6'+ and 320#'s That created many problems for me in the weeks to come! I was ambulanced to the local hospital by 3pm and was told that I probably had food poisoning! I was flown to the next city around 11p.m. and went into surgery around 1a.m. Dec.17.I don't know all  the details after that but I do remember waking up to all my big brothers(3 of them none whom I have had to look up to for years) on Jan. 2nd or 3rd and thinking "ahhhhh, s___

I died and went to hell!!"I was restrained to my bed and did not feel I could move my legs. (my arms were restrained) I have since went to rehab where I learned to talk, swallow, walk, (eat, drink, and the rest that comes with all this) I came home on Jan. 17, 2004. to my wonderful family.

Update: 4/22/04:

Brian ,

Well I have been having a rough time keeping my head up do to the idea my biological father is having surgery for his aneurisms in his iliac. He also has a growth inside his heart. He told me it is called coronary ectasia. I go numb on occasion and have not figured out what is causing it. I believe it is nerves from years of pulling milk. But who knows until you talk to the docs. I am sending pictures b4 and after.

As for drugs that I am on:I  take lasix,avapro,protonix,trandate and have ambien and lorazipan for those nights when I can't get a grip! I was cleared for light duty at work for 4/15/04 although there is none available. I am cleared to go back full-duty 5/17/04. Well I am going to send The pics. Hope to talk soon (530)257 2442 and the city I was flown to is Reno, Nevada

Update: 6/1/04

Hello Everyone,


Just writing a tidbit on my latest appointment with the cardiologists. Today my wife and two young Helsels accompanied myself to Reno where we attended an appt. with Dr. Nobles. He looked over my chart and introduced himself to Maura and Declan, he then looked at me and pointed to the line on my chart that shows blood pressure readings. He then said, "Things look excellent." He checked my pulse at the ankle then at my neck and then listened through my chest cavity. He again smiled and said, "Wow!!!;not a one murmer" Apparently things have healed well and I am well on my way to recovery.
Well its been "Just Another Day" in Duane's life


Hey Brian,

It has been a while since we spoke. I thought I'd bring you up to speed. After a year and 4 months my original LIFESAVING surgery has been re-evaluated and surgically removed by Dr.Craig Miller. I re-entered the hospital here in Susanville, Ca. on March 23,2005. This time the Doctor and nurses were very expedient to do a CT and fly me out to Reno,Nv. The original surgeon (the one who performed the LIFESAVING surgery originally) was a little surprised to see me back in his local hospital. He attended to me very cautiously.

Speaking with his peers localy and at Stanford made a decision to have me flown to Stanford. There was found an anomaly in my thoracic region. Apparently the original dacron hose and sutures had given a little and sprung a leak that created a sudo anyeurism.(from the CT scan it looked like a sack had formed behind the aorta and was not leaking anywhere. Dr. Miller went in on Easter Sunday and replaced my aortic valve with a St. Judes Valve and the aorta across the arch. Every thing seems to be well as of now. I am now a somewhat skeptic but a thankful skeptic. Gotta go haven't been getting much sleep due to my personal life.

Duane Helsel

Contact Duane

Duane's Picture Before his AorticDissection

Duane's Family picture after AorticDissection w/exchange student

Father/Daughter Dance Picture

Duane after the surgery!
Phone: 206-550-7957
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