Personal Stories: Stephanie Gonzales

My name is Stephanie and I was 21 years old at the time of my dissection. It was mind blowing I still can't believe it happened. It happened so quick I didn't have time to think about it. I was with my future husband at a Christmas party at his family's house on Christmas Eve.


I stood up to walk inside and I felt a sharp stabbing pain in my back between my shoulder blades. I stood still for a while hopping it would go away but it got worse the pain shot from my back to my chest and up to my jaw. I tightened up and called for my boyfriend. He came running and helped me in to the house. At first I thought it was a back spasm because I had one before but the pain was different. I waited for about an hour and I couldn't take the pain anymore so we went to the hospital. When we got there the ER was packed!!


I went threw triage and they drew blood from me and did an EKG. They didn't find anything on the EKG so they put me back in the waiting room until they could do an x-ray. It was actually the x-ray tech that discovered it because she took the x-ray told me to wait there in the x-ray room and she went outside to talk to one of the nurses. The nurse went to the doctors and then I was swarmed with nurses and doctors asking me all kinds of questions and sent me for a CAT scan.


I kept asking what was going on but no one would tell me they kept saying wait for the doctor. My head was spinning I was scared, mad, confused, and frustrated all at the same time. Then finally the doctor told me I would have to have open heart surgery I freaked I told them no that I didn't want to and then they told me I could die and I still said no. I know now I was in such denial!! My boyfriend was scared but he was trying to be strong for me I could tell in his face he couldn't wrap his mind around it either. I told him to call my mom and tell her I'm at the ER but not tell her for what until she got there cause I didn't want to have a accident on the way.


The doctor said the hospital wasn't equipped for my condition so they were going to life flight me to anther hospital that was more equipped. Just when they were getting me ready for the flight my mom got there they explained to her what was going on and her face dropped. She gave me a hug and kiss and said they would meet me at the other hospital. At the other hospital I was put in ICU and had a team of cardiologist talk to my family and I about the procedure.


The shoved a camera down my throat to check it out. I went into surgery on Christmas morning and spent 5 1/2 hours on the operating table. I woke up and I was on a vent I told my mom in sign language I wanted it out now!! My mom called the doctor and he said I had to breathe on my own and it was to soon I begged him and he felt sorry for me and told me that he would turn it off for a couple of seconds and it was up to me to breathe to a certain number and if I could then he would take it out. So when he turned it off I used all I had to breathe I did good so he took it out right there and then. I looked like the bride of Frankenstein I had 2 tubes coming out of my neck, 2 out of my chest, IV's in each arm. I was bad! The nurse took out the ones in my neck the same night and one from the chest a few days later.


Then in one of the x-rays showed I had air pocket in my lung from when the chest tube came out. So I kept the second tube in me longer. I was in the hospital for Christmas and New Years but the way I see it I got the BEST Christmas present I could have asked for MY LIFE!!!


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