Personal Stories: Irene's Husband

Dear Brian,

First off, let me say how grateful I am for this web site. Although sometimes I'm not thrilled with what I read, my husband and I have found it very informative. Back in February my husband, who is 58, was taken to our local hospital with what we thought was a heart attack. From there he was taken by ambulance to Mass. General in Boston.

He had previously (Nov. 2003) had a cauterization when it was determined that he had three 50% blockages. The Drs. felt that the blockages were not enough to operate to put a stent in. Now in February, they did another cauterization and determined there was no change from November. He spent five days in the hospital with numerous changes of medication and was discharged on a Friday. He had a miserable weekend, was up half the night in terrible pain.

To make a long story short, our PCP had him take an x-ray the following Saturday. They called us and asked for him to come in for another. We weren't able to get back for the second x-ray until Sunday morning at which time the Dr. had him have a CAT scan. Everything happen so quickly after that. He was shipped to Brigham & Women's in Boston with a Type B Aortic Dissection - from his breast bone down to his groin. He spent 4 days in ICU. Since then he has made three different trips back to B&W. They are treating him with various meds to control his blood pressure.

He did go back to work (he's a teacher) but after feeling really lousy, the school nurse had him transported by ambulance to a hospital near his school. Since then he has been followed by the Drs. at B&W, including a vascular surgeon and also our PCP. He tires very easily and just doesn't feel himself.

We have so many questions but are afraid of the answers. We have an only daughter. Is this hereditary? Did having the second cauterization cause this? What is the long-term prognosis? Can you really lead a normal life after this? My husband had planned to retire from teaching this June anyway but now is very down to think his retirement plans have changed. I try to be upbeat for him and tell him how lucky he is to be alive but some days, this really gets to him.

We had never heard of this condition before it happened to us. Now, there are so many stories on your web site and we have even seen an ad on TV for screening of this condition.


Contact Irene


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