There I was... shopping at the "Biggest Souvenir Shop" in Las Vegas
with my daughter, when I felt a sharp pain between my shoulder blades
and then what felt like a warm waterfall going down my entire back. I
thought to myself, "what just happened?". In all of my 52 years on the
planet I surely had never experienced anything like that before. Well,
luckily my daughter was driving, so I told her that we needed to go. I
don't think that I could have gotten myself home because the pain was
increasing with every moment that went by. We hopped into her little
Hyundai Accent (I'm 6' 3" at 240 lbs) and sped home. Thank God the
passenger seat reclined. Once there, I took some Tylenol and tried
sitting in my very comfortable recliner with the built in massager.
That didn't help, so I laid down in bed.
The fetal position was about the best, until I finally gave into my
daughters offer to take me to the hospital. Good idea, HUH? Well, you
can imagine how that went. At that point I couldn't even sit down, so
I stood, (mind you, for about an hour and a half) patiently waiting my
turn. When they called me in it was all I could do to make my way to
this tiny room where they told me to sit and try to relax while
waiting on the doctor. Yeah, right! Can you picture this? Ok, The
young woman doctor comes in, and in her broken English she has me
explain my self, to wit I added, please give me something for the
pain. She did, and I requested more. She was very accommodating and
brought me another shot (of what, I don't know or care, at this time).
At that point they decided to do a CT scan, then they pumped me
full of blood pressure medications. The next thing I knew, I was being
whisked off to another hospital by the two most unlikely characters to
drive an Ambulance you've ever encountered. I remember the ride. I was
being thrown from side to side and front to back while laying flat on
my back on one most uncomfortable gurney. I was rushed into intensive
care. While lying there freezing with 8 blankets covering me, a young
male doctor (about half my age) came to the side of my bed and looked
down at me. I'll NEVER forget what he said. "Hi, I'm Dr. so & so.
You're very lucky. (and get this)... I don't think I could have gotten
you on the table fast enough".
He said that I had had a Descending Aortic Dissection the length of
my aorta, and in a split second decision, decided not to open me up.
Keep in mind that at this point it didn't seem that this was really
happening to me, with all of the drugs running through my veins. I
looked at him, standing there in amazement, and said........OK.
Well, folks; After 10 days in ICU, and 2 weeks at my brothers home
(in Nevada) recuperating, I then flew back to Wisconsin where I now
reside with my loving wife, three and some years after the fact. I
have restricted blood flow to my arteries, one of my kidneys shut
down, I'm on pills (with side effects) for the rest of my life, I have
a CT scan and see my cardiac doctor once a year (I can finally
pronounce his entire name), and I feel like the luckiest man alive!
After my crash course into the world of AD, and knowing what I know
now, I am humbled at how fortunate one can be to have this "Second
Chance" at life. To pull through this without going under the knife is
remarkable. Kind of changes your whole outlook. Even though I face a
10% chance of living through a very complicated surgery some day (God
forbid), I still feel blessed.
PLEASE tell your family and friends to monitor their blood
pressure. Thank you.
John J Behrendt
2003-2008. All Rights Reserved.