Personal Stories: Robert Lady

Dear Brian –

I too, a simple man, am a survivor of a Type 1 Aortic Dissection.  My story goes that on November 11-12, 2007, I woke up about 12 midnight with what I thought I had some minor indigestion.  I took my Prevacid along with some milk and returned back to bed.  About 20 minutes later, I arose again with indigestion like symptoms; however, instead of the “feel” of indigestion going up and down, this feeling was going left to right.  I woke my wife up and explained to her that I thought I needed to go to the emergency room (in as much as I really love going to the doctor’s office as well as a hospital).  She explained that she would get dressed and take me – I told her that I didn’t think I could make it to the car, please dial 911.  She did and when they got there the pain was enormous.  The paramedics got me on the stretcher and I remember being placed into the ambulance – but – I do not remember anything else for about 3 weeks.  There was NO WARNING what was about to happen.  The CT technician turned white after the 2nd picture of my chest and told the surgeons to get me to surgery immediately.  The surgeons told my wife that I had an EMERGENCY TYPE 1 – AORTIC DISSECTION / ANEURYSM that had exploded and I was rushed into surgery before they could even explain to my wife what was going on.  There were 2 heart surgeons that worked on me all night for about 9.5 hours trying to keep me alive.  Afterwards, they told my wife that I was not expected to make it since I had been on life support for more than 3 hours and the nature and extend of the aortic dissection was so great – the largest sectional replacement in the history of that hospital (a #24 hemi-shield graft was placed). They also told her that they did not even close me up and could not get me awake.  Later the next morning and packed in ice water, they told my wife that she may want to go ahead and make arrangements for my funeral. 

My wife, knowing how stubborn I am, told the surgeons that she wanted to see me and that she could wake me up.  After about 30 minutes, she got me to respond and the surgeons were notified and took me back into surgery for another approximately 4 hours to complete the repairs.  Then to make matters worse, the wires holding my sternum together broke and on January 2nd, they had to go back into my chest and put in steel plates to screw my sternum back into place.  Today is the 2 month anniversary of my emergency and I am please to say that I am back to work and feeling fine.  It has been a VERY HARD ROAD to travel on – moments of deep depression followed by the courage to continue on with this wonderful life.  I no longer have any more medical problems such as high blood pressure, the possible diabetes (never diagnosed officially), but do suffer from severe residual surgical pain in and around where the surgery took place.  My doctors said that it will take about 6 months to completely heal and be “normal” again. I keep saying to myself that one day the pain will subside and that I might be able to go back to water skiing again in September – hopefully.  Besides some pain relief from my doctor - I only have to take 1 aspirin a day – that’s it (I was taking about 12 pills a day).  It has been a very hard road for me and my wife – both emotionally and financially straining, but some how – GOD be with us – we will make it.

GOD kept me alive, I believe, for the simple task of telling people that if you have had high blood pressure, like me for years, PLEASE, oh but PLEASE – go have an MRI done every year from your waste to your head.  I had a stress test 2 weeks before all of this happened and everything checked out OK.  The aortic dissection did not and will not show up in that type of test – I can not stress to everyone enough – GO GET AN ** MRI ** EVERY YEAR – I am going to from now on even if I must pay for it myself.

If you wish to respond, please feel free to e-mail me at  And Brian, please tell everyone you know that has high blood pressure to go get an MRI done ASAP.

Thanks for listening

Robert Lady

Cumming, Georgia


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