Personal Stories: Timothy Tate

Let me start by saying thank you Brian for your website. It has given me accurate information and hope at a time when I truly needed it. Now my story... I had worked all morning and come home to do some yard work on a sunny Sunday afternoon. It was around 95 degrees, but overall a nice August day. I relaxed and cooled down for about 30 minutes before going to the computer to pay some bills on-line. I started having moderate chest pain, but assumed I had simply overdone it in the yard.


The chest pain continued for about 5 minutes before it became very intense. Then, all of the sudden, it stopped. A few seconds later, I began to feel a warm sensation in my abdomen that radiated into my legs. Within a couple of minutes, my legs began to tingle, as if they were going numb. I quickly realized something was wrong, so I got up, changed clothes and put the dogs away. I grabbed my wallet and my keys and drove myself to the hospital. When I arrived about 7 minutes later, it was all I could do to walk into the Emergency room. I mentioned chest pain and the ER staffed leaped into action. That was about 6:30pm.


Within minutes, I was in a hospital gown with IV's in both arms. I would sweat profusely, then I would get a chill. That process repeated itself several times. Initially, the doctors believed I had a blood clot around my pelvis, blocking blood to my right leg, which I could neither feel nor move. A Doppler was done, which yielded no blood clot. Luckily, a doctor walked in during the Doppler and said "Look at the aorta as well". All I remember was the technician saying "This doesn't look right". Within a few minutes, I was whisked off for a CT with contrast. Back in my Evaluation room, things were really starting to move.


Doctors were running in and out and stopping to conference in the hallway outside my door. Finally, Dr Michael Watts, a cardiovascular surgeon, informed me that I had had a very serious aortic dissection and that I soon would be taken into emergency open heart surgery. I told my friends that were waiting with me that I loved them. At about 10:30pm I was wheeled down to the operating room. I had been having intense lower right back pain since I arrived, but that was the only indication, other than the paralysis of my right leg, that anything was wrong.


My surgery lasted until about 4:00am. I awoke in open heart recovery about 8:00am to find I could move and feel my right leg again. I was incubated, sedated, and had been cut open from stem to stern, but I was alive, and nothing could have been better. I was released the following Friday to go home and have made steady progress since. My father passed away at the age of 38, from a heart attack. Looking back, I wonder if an aortic dissection triggered his MI. Anyway, I hope my story offers something to the visitors of your website. I firmly believe, even without Marfen's or a similar disorder, aortic dissection is a family disorder, if not genetic. My cardiologist said that my life expectancy may not have been effected at all by my condition, unless complications arise later on. Thanks again for all the useful information on your site, and good luck to all my fellow aortic dissection survivors.


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