Personal Stories: Sherry T Booth

My name is Sherry Booth. I have been a pediatric Registered Nurse for about 28 years. I have worked with medically fragile children for the past 4 years now, and I really love it. My story began on September 20, 2007. My day was like any other day. I stayed very busy, and worked until about 6:30pm that evening. I went to bed about 11pm, very tired, but that was nothing unusual. I woke up at about 3:30am to go to the bathroom. That was not unusual either. When I sat up in bed, a pain ripped through my chest like a knife. I just knew it was a heart attack. I could not breathe. For about five minutes I tried to call for my daughters who were both across the hall in their own rooms.

I could not speak loud enough due to the pain and shortness of breath. When my daughter finally heard me, she ran across the hall and turned on my light. The first thing she said was, Mom, you are as white as a ghost! When I told them what had happened, they immediately started getting ready to take me to the emergency room. I could only sit there in the bed trying to breathe. By then, the pain had settled in my left shoulder blade. It was still stabbing, and still took my breath away. We somehow managed to get into the car, and my daughter drove me to the local hospital.

Upon arrival, my blood pressure was 200s /170s. They gave me Nitroglycerin twice, but it did not help. They started me on a Nipride drip by IV. I was on Oxygen. They started to discuss CCU, which scared me. I had never really been sick before. They chose to call the cardiologist on call. He did not talk to me at all until I had been in the CCU for several hours. I realize now that I gave him all the information he needed to diagnose me, however, aortic dissection is so rare that it did not even enter his mind.(And I had never heard of it!) In my family history, I had a brother with 6 aneurysms, an aunt who died of an aneurysm, an uncle with 3 aneurysms, and a grandmother with an abdominal aneurysm.

My father had died during surgery, and had an aortic root problem. My whole family is very tall. I even had a dear friend who is a physician who told this cardiologist to look at my aorta, and he did not pay attention to this. He scheduled a nuclear stress test, which just about killed me I almost did not make it through that. He finally sent me home to wait on a scheduled cardiac catherization in 3 days. I sat there the whole weekend in terrible pain and short of breath.

On Monday morning, ten minutes before I had to leave for the hospital, they called and told me that the cardiac cath machine had broken down for the first time ever! (May I say here that I believe God intervened?!) When that happened, I took that chance to call another cardiologist who actually listened to me! He was able to see me that morning, and within 30 minutes had sent me for a CT scan. They found the aortic tear right away. It goes from past my aortic curve into my right leg. They have never found the end of it.

Luckily, it did not affect any major organs. They sent me by ambulance to a bigger regional hospital, where I spent 5 days in CCU. Since then I have been on four blood pressure medications. They have had to change them several times due to my blood pressure going up. With each CT scan that I have had, my thoracic aorta has gotten bigger, so now I am looking at having an aneurysm surgery. My doctor has recommended a hospital in Houston, Texas, which is a long way away

from my home in South Carolina. This surgery scares me to death, since it involves being on a heart lung bypass, and opening from my neck to my groin. I would love to hear from others who have had this surgery and lived to tell the tale! Has any one gone to Houston to have the surgery done? Thanks for any advice you have. Sherry Booth, Easley SC

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