Personal Stories: JoAnn Delmotte's Husband

This is still very hard for me to even think about and yet my mind never seems to let go of what happened to my husband. On May 23, 2001 I came home from work about 10pm and my husband Joe was up and said he did not feel well, to look at him and hear him I said good thing you have tomorrow off so you can go to the doctor's, you sound like you have bronchitis real bad.

I stayed up with him until 11:30 and said "I have to be to work by 6am I need to go to bed". I kissed him good night and asked if he was coming "he said in a bit". At midnight Joe woke me up and said something is really wrong take me to the hospital. When I turned on the light it looked like he was standing in the shower, that is how much he was sweating & he was so pale I could not believe it. We got him to the hospital, they treated him for a heart attack.

After several hours they called in a cardiac specialist because nothing was helping Joe. They had given him oxygen saturation at 100%,on 2 liters, GI cocktails and morphine, nitroglycerine with no significant improvement. The heart specialist told us he was sending Joe to another Hospital, he was in over his head, not sure what was happening. When we got to the other hospital they did a cardiac catheterization, they found a type 1 aortic dissection with 1+ aortic insufficiency.(said he needed emergency surgery).

They repaired and did a re-suspension of aortic valve and repair of right common femoral cannulation sight. During the surgery Joe lost 14 pints of blood and had a total circ arrest time of 21 minutes. These are all doctor's terms. I can tell you, they came to me with a minister and said Joe would die without this surgery and that if I signed the paper work for the surgery he still only had a 10% chance of making it out alive, and if he did come through surgery he would suffer a stroke or brain damage.

Joe had a stroke on the table. But he was & is Alive...He is OUR MIRACLE!!!! The doctor's had told me at the 21 minutes of circ arrest if they had to do a heart valve replacement they would just close him up, because you can only have 45 minutes of circ arrest and that replacement added another 2 hours on. During the surgery Joe's femoral veins on his legs also collapsed, (they were so week) so a doctor worked on that end too (they were trying to get a graft from his leg veins and that went wrong also) Joe went to the intensive care unit in critical condition and was there for 3 weeks, he was on tube feedings and a ventilator, a staff infection set in.

They had not expected Joe to make it through the night. But he did..after he started to improve they moved him out of ICU, and started all kinds of therapies. The doctor's said while Joe was in the hospital they found out he had sleep apnea (450-500 episodes a night) this is where you quit breathing at night and when your body starts back up your blood pressure shoots so high, but can be normal during the day.) Joe did not show the signs of someone with sleep apnea-tired and needing naps all the time.

The doctor's said all them years of so many episodes at night made his veins weak so they gave out. He is now on a c-pap machine at night and meds. for blood pressure + beta blockers). It has been a very, very long road for Joe, Myself and Our Children. But we live one day at a time and Thank GOD for OUR MIRACLE. There are questions we would like to ask but are not sure we want the answers, so we leave them unsaid and enjoy each other every single day..

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