Personal Stories: Janice Gibb's Husband

My husband was working on a construction job in Tennessee. On a Sunday morning he was cleaning lawn furniture the guys he was working with were going to have a cook out. He said the first pain he felt was in his back. He had a room mate sharing the condo , so he went inside to tell him something was wrong. The pain let up for a second then it hit him again and he started to loss the use of his legs. His roommate got him inside and ran next door to get help from another crew member they were working with. My husband said the pain was unbearable and he couldn't stand to lie down so one of the guys held him upright and got him some ice because he was sweating profusely and the second guy called for an ambulance, they thought he was having a heart attack.

They was an ambulance close by in that area and they got him to the first emergency room at a small hospital when they took a urine specimen and said it was pure blood they then rushed him to a larger hospital that has a excellent record for heart patients. I flew out immediately in was in Tennessee right before they took him down for a heart cauterization , his heart was fine only a 20% block in one of his arteries , but that is when they saw the tear in the descending aorta they called in a surgeon from the Knoxville University Hospital and took him down for a cat scan. In the hospital the pain was still unbearable, he was on morphine and valium and it still wasn't controlled. They even had to do a head cat scan because they thought he might also be having a stroke.

After the test I was told by the surgeon that surgery at that time was out of the question because of the high risk  of paralyzing him and since he regain use of his legs at this time and he had a good pulse in his ankles and neck they were going to try and get his blood pressure as low as possible and put him in CCU to monitor him. He spent four days in CCU and five days  in COU. He had several test during this time to watch for any further change and possible blood clots before they released him to fly home to Pennsylvania.

We talk to and excellent heart surgeon at the UPMC hospital and he confirmed  what the doctor in Tennessee said that neither surgery or a stent to stabilize wasn't a good choice at this time. It has been eight weeks and he still has some pain if he does more then he should , he is extremely tired and being a very active man this is really hard for him to except. At times he is really depressed and then we will have a couple of good days. He goes back in six months to the heart surgeon for another cat scan to see if they are any changes.

He is seeing his primary care doctor on a monthly bases to keep his blood pressure monitored to make sure it is keep very low. He is on six different prescriptions  for the blood pressure and depression and they need to be monitored often. Everything that day on June 13th, 2004 seemed to be in my husband favor and the quick action of his friends and the two different hospitals is the reason my husband is here today and I will always be thankful to all the people who took care of him.

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