Personal Stories: Linda Fesler

Hi Everyone,

I was diagnosed with Marfan's Syndrome at age 23 so I read everything I could about it from that time on. There was not a lot of information available but I found enough to understand that our son had a 50/50 chance of having it and further children were at high risk so we made the decision to not have the basketball team with one sub I had always wanted.

My husband was relieved just a bit! The more I read led me to believe that our son, Reece, had marfans too. I was right but it took us a long time to get a firm diagnoses on him. One day I will tell you our Reece's story but not today.

I was very aware that I could have a dissection of my aorta but it was not something I expected to happen to ME. I have to say that because I live in rural Arkansas I had thought that I had better be ready because I would probably not make it to a hospital that was capable of handling that situation. Nov. 17, 03, I was in my kitchen and had just gotten off the phone with a friend and felt this odd feeling in my throat.

I knew deep down what it was. I walked to the phone in the entry, I had a phone in my hand but I don't know what happened to it. I dialed 911 and when a lady answered I told her my name and address and that "I have marfan's syndrome" and hung up and immediately dialed my sister's number and left a message on her machine "Ruth this is Linda. I'm in trouble. I have called 911.

Curtis (my husband) is at Ozarka college in a computer class. It is 1:08. I hung up and the phone rang, it was 911 operator she asked me something and I don't remember much else. I did hear a neighbor come in my back door and say my name, (a mutual friend of ours had been listening to the scanner and called her to tell her someone at the Fesler's called for an ambulance) I told her I was on the floor in the entry.

She must have opened the front door so she could hear the ambulance because the next thing I heard was my other neighbor's voice and I said "that's Miss Alice, don't let her see me she will get upset". I don't remember anything else clearly until I woke up as they took the tube out of my throat when they took me out of icu. I think that was 4 or 5 days later...

My sister is an RN and she says that the EMTs that arrived at my house had full training in heart procedures. That was the first miracle, they got me to our very small local hospital (Mtn. View) and Dr. Nick, who has known me and my diagnoses for years.

He knew he had to stabilize me and get me to the next hospital that could do the next step to get me to LR. I am sorry that I don't even try to remember the names of the procedures that were done I just know that Dr. Nick did stabilize me and sent me on to Batesville, there was a thunder storm and they could not air lift me and I needed some other procedure to stabilize me further so Batesville did that and the weather was worse so I continued the two plus hours to LR by ambulance and was met at the doors of St Vincent by Dr. Tom Rayburn and he did the surgery immediately.

He rebuilt my valve and fixed the connecting first part of the aorta dissection and left the top dissection to heal on it's own. I think all of this is correct. I just know that I was well taken care of and my sister feels that the right people were at the right place at the right time to save my life.

May 17th was my six month anniversary and I had a cat scan last Tuesday to see how things are going. I hope the doctor connects with me to tell me the results. I have felt really rough for these six months with a few good days here and there but in the last 2 days I have felt so much better and my husband says yesterday I was my old self all day. (I wonder if he would like me to stay the sweeter, quieter Linda I have been since surgery?) Mtn. View hospital had a cat scan and echo cardiogram on me from a few years ago and I knew that I should have echo cardiograms at least yearly and that I should have kept up with my heart doctor visits.

 If I had followed through with those tests I would have had surgery before the dissection occurred and I would have faired much better, probably.....Our son kept telling me to get myself checked out regularly but I did not listen to him. Thanks for listening.
Linda Fesler

Thank you brian!  My son had an aortic dissection in 94 and I had mine 6 months ago. (Nov. 17, 2003)  The following Feb. 10th our son died.  We did not have an autopsy, his doctors agreed to call it a heart attack.....
He turned 38 on Feb 19, o4...I turned 61 on Jan 15th, o4.
I was glad to hear that your surgeon told you that you could return to your normal activities.....mine did too and that was such a lie.  I have taught aerobics since the 70's and have a class going in our place of retirement for almost 12 years.  Needless to say I am unable to participate in the class to any great extent...much less teach it.


I know that the death of our only son has set me back on all will never be the same for us.   He left a wife that is like a daughter to us and two great kids.  He had the children after his aortic dissection.   Long story there. 
I am encouraged that I have found this connection to you.  I am in rural Arkansas so I have to go to LR to my doctors.  We lived in Los Angeles for almost 40 years and that is where our son was living. 


I hope to follow your forums and gain knowledge I need to move forward without over doing it!  I have always pushed myself to get things done.  Because of the surgeons pep talk to me before leaving the hospital I expected much more out of my body than it could give.  My son was the one to tell me that I needed to take my time and learn more about this...he reminded me that he was unable to go back to his normal 'life'.


Thanks for listening Brian and God bless you for giving so much of yourself to us who need you.
Linda Fesler

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