Personal Stories: John J. Behrendt

 

Friends:

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

likeneverbefore@sbcglobal.net

 


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