Personal Stories: Greg Nobriga
This is my story....By Greg Nobriga
I am 6' tall 200 lbs 59 years old and was in good general health
when I had my Dissection I have a history of high blood pressure over
the last 10 years but with close monitoring by my General care
physician and blood pressure meds I had it under control or so I
thought....I was involved in a car accident a few years back that
caused a whiplash condition in my neck....the other driver t-boned my
car while running a red-light and by the Grace of God I survived.
But I was left with trying to find a solution for my chronic neck
pain ...I accelerated my alcohol consumption along with pain meds in
order to self medicate to the point where I could continue to work
during the day and sleep at night...my drinking habits would start
around 5 PM each day and end about 11PM each night...although never
drunk I would be pleasantly numb most every night.......I finally was
able to find a clinic where a doctor found a solution for the sharp
pains and chronic condition.
It was called a nerve block procedure...after this procedure my
life was almost back to normal except for my drinking habits had
become the norm......Most people didn't even know I was stoned at
night because I was home most of the time and in social situations I
fit right in with the cocktail set....My lifestyle during the last 3
years definitely contributed to my Dissection condition...The doctors
say it didn't cause it but there is a part of the following story that
may be interesting to those of us who like to consume.
I was a mid-level manager in the Contract Manufacturing field for
over 30 years, after much of the work in the Silicon valley was
shipped over seas my company closed it's doors in 2002...since then I
continued to work in the same field at another electronic company for
2 more years then decided to start my own full time Handyman and Home
Improvement Contractor business in 2006.
I was working in my new career at the time of my car accident and
have done well ever since and find it to be a career that is very
On sept 30th,2009 I dropped my wife off at the San Jose,Ca
International airport for her Business trip to Chicago at 6:30 AM.
After kissing her goodbye I got back in the car and began my exit from
the terminal C area toward the Terminal A section of the airport after
traveling aprox 800 Ft from where I had left my wife off it hit
me...first as a sharp stabbing pain in my upper back between my
shoulder blades and then it became a full upper body seizure lifting
me literally off the seat of the car and arching my back completely
into an excruciating spasm of pain.
I fought to keep my vision on the road and control my leg and arms
for control of the car My eyes quickly scanned for a place to pull
over ...I saw many baggage clerks and security people to the right of
me near the old terminal C area and a passenger pick-up point just
beyond them...I was able to pull over shove the gear handle into park
turn-off the ignition open the door and fall out of the car. My body
by then had seized up into a semi-fetal position as I slumped against
the rear wheel of the car for a time.
I was able to get into a position on all fours with my head turned
down toward the pavement...groping for control sweating profusely now
and trying desperately to control the pain as wave after wave of warm
sharp pain stabbed through my back....the cramp like throbbing pain
continued as feet began to assemble around me...the voices from the
feet asked if I was alright and if I required any assistance. was I
having a heart attack one of the pair of feet asked.
I was in much pain and was struggling to keep from passing out I
replied...do you want us to call an ambulance and paramedics...give me
a few more minutes please...do you want us to call someone for
you?...I don't want to bother my wife ..I just left her off at
terminal C and I should be fine in a minute as soon as this f-----g
back spasm passes...minutes passed as I continued to struggle to
remain conscious ,I again fell to the pavement near the rear wheel of
the car and by then realized that whatever this was was it was not a
back spasm...please call the paramedics I pleaded with the guards.
another 10 minutes went by ...fortunately for me there was a
paramedic station with an ambulance about a block away in the
airport...when they arrived my Body was....you know those scenes in
the movies where a man is holding his mortally wounded friend and the
wounded friend looks up at him and describes his feeling ....harry I'm
cold harry I'm sooooooo cold! .....well my body was cold and my memory
banks were immediately going into overdrive ..my thoughts turned to
ones of expiring right there in that airport on this little piece of
pavement...the paramedics quickly called the local hospital and were
relaying details of my vitals and with returned info ...they got me
into the ambulance and administered something...they told me it was an
IV to lower my blood pressure in case I was having a hearty attack...
I was in a cold and sweat and still fighting to stay conscious...
they asked which hospital I wanted to go to...I replied O'conner
Hospital...It was the closest but I knew that the staff there were
preferable ...on the ride over after reviewing my heavenly
qualifications to God my body seemed to start to come under control
....whatever they were giving me in that IV was definitely helping.
I arrived at the O'Connor Hospital emergency entrance on a day when
the staff shift for the morning was just coming on ...there was little
happening so I received immediate attention...after a series of
questions and tests doctor Savadra conferred with me...during this
time ...although still in some discomfort the main pain of the attack
had subsided...the doctor and I continued to discuss what might have
caused the attack...the EKG they had just performed had been fairly
normal and did not seem to indicate any kind of heart problem.
The doctor was concerned enough to order that I be taken to another
dept for a CT scan....things went pretty smoothly with the scan ...I
had never had one before ...when they hook up the IV and inject the
die into your veins it is definitely a unique feeling unlike I've felt
before...all the way to your groin area there is the wave of
By the time I had been returned to the room and been hooked up to
the IV's again the doctor had returned and offered the following
info...He had reviewed the CT scan results and had suspected a
possible aortic Dissection ...he said that the area behind my heart
.... being the descending part of the aortic artery looked enlarged
...he had sent the results to his cardiac counterpart at Stanford
hospital in Palo Alto (25 miles away) and the cardiac specialist there
had concurred that I probably had suffered a dissection and that I
should be transported immediately...O'Conner hospital does not have
helipad capability so an ambulance from Stanford was dispatched to
transport me...during the hour or so before my transport I spent time
contacting my son's ( I have 3 son's in the area) and kicking myself
for not wanting to notify my wife while she was still on the ground at
the airport...oh well I wasn't seeing a white tunnel of light yet so
all was good as my kids would say....
By the time I reached Stanford my whole family had been notified as
well as my wife's 2 boys ...(we have a blended family of 6 boys .....I
have always been the "tough guy" of the family ...even though I have
played sports when I was young and have what I believe to be a high
pain threshold...I have never felt pain like that day...it is humbling
...very humbling...the care I received at Stanford Cardiac ICU was
outstanding ...The doctors there Malledi and Cafferelli were
excellent, professional and super competent....they saved my
life...well actually it was a whole series of events that saved my
life...starting with the paramedics at the airport, the caring and
probing doctor at O'Conner hospital, the transport staff and the
surgeons that performed that all important 7 1/2 hours of surgery to
save this "tough guys" life.
The damaged portion of my Descending aorta was about 8 to 10 inches
long and had been enlarged to 5 times it's normal size ...they said it
was like a bubble on a bike tire that was ready to pop!...a little
time bomb right there in my chest one of the Surgeons joked...the
surgeons seem to concur that in my case it looked like I had probably
had some traumatic physical trauma in my teens or early 20's and that
created the original aneurism the remaining 3o years+ took care of
getting it to it's current condition...it scares me to even think
about what life events I have been through and the way I sometimes
have mistreated my body while this little time bomb was ticking away
in there...for it to have picked that particular day when all the
stars were in alignment for my event...well what can you say except
..thank you God for giving me a second chance....this "tough Guy" has
changed his perspective on life ...I felt blessed before but now I
know that every day will be treasured ...
The staff of the recovery room was great also...My family was
strong for me when I most needed it...my wife finally made it back
from Chicago by 11 PM and I was wheeled into surgery at midnight on
Sept 30th/Oct 1st,2009...I had just enough time to apologize for not
stopping her flight from San Jose...she had spent the flight back in
absolute fear that I might pass on before she got back....so there you
have it my story...
there was a part of the story that I want to share with those of
you who like your cocktail hours...on the 3rd day after surgery my
doctor (Cafferelli) had a discussion with me about my drinking
habits...he somehow had figured out that I was a pretty heavy drinker
(Vodka is my drink of choice) on the 3rd day after my surgery he
assigned a special male nurse to guide me through my alcohol
withdrawal (after 72 hours of no alcohol a heavy drinker will go into
strong alcohol withdrawal)...I had a bad case of what they call the
DT's that night I had a special drip of a cocoction only the doctors
know ....that night was filled with night sweats, hallucinations
galore and several thoughts of having passed into the afterlife.....I
survived that night and every glorious night since...My recovery is
ongoing...It is now Jan 21st 2010 and I actually have returned to a
light work schedule for some selected customers.....life is good...and
a glass of wine once in awhile for dinner is good also...
God Bless to Everyone...stay well.....
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