Personal Stories: Kim Putnam's Father

We had suspected that my dad had hypertension for years. Combined with a very unhealthy weight and diet, he seemed to be a health disaster waiting to happen. He refused, however, to see a doctor, assuming that his declining health was related to his work with asbestos earlier in life. One evening, home alone in the shower, he broke into a cold sweat. Breathing became difficult and he felt a "pop".

He refused, still, to be taken to the emergency room, insisting that he was only experiencing the downward spiral associated with exposure to asbestos. Finally, unable to breathe well, he consented to see a doctor. The doctor did not diagnose him properly and ended up giving him ciprofloxacin to clear up an "infection".

The doctor never took any tests or x-rays. To make this extremely long story short, he somehow ended up with 2 liters of fluid being drained from his lung. A test showed the aortic dissection. We have no idea right now if the two conditions are linked. He will be having further tests.

His aneurysm is 6 cm in diameter, and as of this writing, he will be having surgery tomorrow morning to repair it. I would urge anyone who has smoked, has a fat-laden diet, is overweight and of an "intense personality" to go ahead and have the tests done to reveal whether or not this silent killer is present. My dad is really fortunate to be alive.

Thanks, Brian, for creating this great site that helps family members know what to prepare for and to expect. Kindest regards! Kim Putnam

Update: 5/20/04:

My dad had his surgery on Thursday morning. I guess the split ended up going from his left shoulder area down near his abdomen. They did go in through the side, taking out a rib (which they do not put back).
It was touch and go for a bit. They could not get the bleeding to stop, nor could they get his body temperature back up after the surgery for awhile. His blood pressure, even though he was unconscious, remained high, but they were able to stabilize that last night.

They took out the ventilator this morning, and although he has had great pain in beginning to breathe on his own and it's been difficult, he does seem to be doing better.

Thanks again for putting up this site, and also for your willingness to answer questions and put us at ease that people do make it through this surgery.
I guess we have since found out that he "should not" be alive. Two doctors on staff at Memorial also are friends of his from his Sunday School class. One of the doctors went in and was a part of the fluid drainage procedure. He said he went home and cried all night, because there was no medical way my dad was alive.

He had 2 1/2 liters of fluid in his lungs, and should have "drowned". That, combined with the 186/110 blood pressure and the aortic dissection should have killed him loooong before he got to the hospital.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with you and your family as you continue to heal from your own surgery. That you can go through what you and your wife have been through and still decide to help other people speaks volumes as to the kind of people that you are!
God bless, and please stay in touch and let us know how you're doing.
Kim Putnam
Phone: 206-550-7957
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