Personal Stories: Suzette and Mom

Dearest Brian,

Thank you so very much for this site. I no longer feel insane and now have the confidence to "speak up" at my visit to the cardiologist tomorrow. My Mom died New Years Day of 2008 of an aortic dissection. New Years Eve was her and my late Dad's anniversary as well as my husband and I. She called early in the evening to touch base and mentioned she wasn't feeling so well. At 82 she was a picture of health with some elevated cholesterol and controlled hypertension. Anyway she complained of mid back and neck pain and had experienced a streak of jaw pain out of nowhere that quickly resolved. I insisted on the 30 min drive to have her come stay with me.

 When I arrived, her pain had increased and she had some nausea. I took her straight to the hospital in our community that specializes in heart attacks. Many things happened that night and since it was New Years Eve, as the ED started to fill up around midnight, she never got the CT that was ordered. Also the morphine had relieved some of the pain and since heart attack was ruled out she was admitted to the geriatric floor for overnight observation.

I left her at around 3am because she seemed stable. The next morning I was there with the MD when she coded. It breaks my heart every time I think of her last words pleading with me to do something. She lasted a couple of hours but didn't make it to the CT machine which they had to have first before they would do Sx. The attending was very nice and answered all my questions. He suggested an autopsy at no charge and since she was going to be cremated I said yes. That was how the aortic dissection was diagnosed. At her funeral and later at a family re-union, with long lost cousins, we pieced together that her father had died in the exact same fashion. Healthy, then severe back pain, indigestion,hospitilized overnight, probably be fine -- then BAM! Only back then he had no chance.

Anyway ------------ even before my Mom died I had been experiencing mid back pain, burning chest pain associated with cardio level workouts. After 3 years of chronic anemia resulting in a hysterectomy (2006 age 50) I was ready to get back in shape. However when I began to significantly increase my level of activity I would get these symptoms. I don't have pain during the activity just afterward and it lasts for a couple of days. Sometimes I have forced myself not to back off. No pain no gain-- other times I do back off and I'm fine. Complete cardio work up revealed nothing.

That was 2 years ago. Along the way I was found to have a nasty mycobacterium infection in my lung which was removed via video-assisted thorascopy. That was in Mar 08. Now the symptoms are increasing and occurring more often. 2 weeks apart. Until now, I had decided not to back off no matter what. I did this for 8 weeks. Cardio/fat burn for at least 1 hour a day x's 6 days per wk. plus yoga 3-5 times a week. The most recent episode was associated with a fleeting ache in 4 of my upper back teeth and a sensation of ice water in my veins going down my left arm along with the usual midback/neck pain/ burning ice pick in center of left chest lasting 4-6 hours. Left feeling yuck the next day.

No work out. I went to see my pulmonologist Mon for routine check up of MAC disease and described the episodes. She ordered angio CT done today (Wed.) and cardiac ultrasound tomorrow . I had never considered Aortic dissection for me until the other night (during an episode)-- it hit me. I went online the next day but did not come across your site until Wed. Do you know if aortic dissections can go undected by CT? Or could you put me in touch with someone who may know. I've read many of the personal stories especially the female ones and they all seem to have been diagnosed with the CT. I have had 2 CT's in the past 2 years and nothing mentioned heart abnormalities only the stupid lung thing.

The site you have developed is an excellent resource and I'm sure it has brought comfort to many people. While I hope my results do not indicate that I will be an 'active' participant- do know that if I am, I will be very grateful for a place to come for support.

I hope you are doing well and continue to do so for a long time........


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