Personal Stories: Vicki Savage
I thought I would share my wifeís experience as it seems some what
unique and may answers some questions about what the future might hold
for some of the people that write in.
In November of 2000 my wife experienced a bad cough that turned into
pneumonia. We took her to Kaiser in Roseville Ca. for a number of
breathing treatments. One night just as she was going to bed she
experienced a sharp pain in her back just above the kidneys. She said it
felt like a elephant had stepped on her. I tried to massage her back,
but it didnít seem to help. She has always had a high tolerance of pain
and it only lasted about 15 to 20 minutes. We donít remember if we
mentioned it at our next visit to Kaiser, but she didnít have any
further problems. She had been treated for high blood pressure for at
least 16 years, but was only able to keep it in the 140 range. In the
past she did a lot of walking and even a little running.
In April of 2001 we left California to serve an 18 month mission for
the LDS church in Manchester New Hampshire. In August of 2001 she seemed
to come down with some type of flu. She started to feel bad on a Monday
and by Wednesday noon she hadnít taken in any fluids to speak of and
hadnít eaten. Against her will I took her to the doctorís office. She
was dehydrated. They felt we should check her into the hospital for more
tests. They planed on having her check in the next morning, but after
talking to the Doctor we agreed to check her in that evening.
The next morning I was there as they brought her back from some test
and had her climb off the gurney on to the bed. All at once a doctor
burst into the room and told her not to move. They gave her a shot to
calm her down; they should have given it to me. The young doctor told me
she was going to have to go in for emergency surgery. They took her down
to ER and about an hour later they brought in two heart doctors to look
at the results.
They kept asking her if she had a sharp pain and were very surprised
when she said no. One of the heart surgeons told me she had an aortic
dissection on the descending aorta, which was the best place to have it
if you had to have one. He told me it would be best treated with
medication. I told him about the sharp pain she has last November. He
said that could have been the dissection, but it wasnít likely. I
understand now that the fact she was still alive made it unlikely, but
that was the only time she ever had that type of pain.
I later learned that the dissection started just beyond the great
vessels to right iliac artery. So in other words it goes from the heart
down to the right leg. In one report is says it is measures 5.2 cm and
in the latest, it says 4.15 cm.
She was in the hospital for 9 days. After getting out we decided to
head back to California and check in with Kaiser. We left New Hampshire
with very little knowledge of what was going on. I remember thinking I
hope I can get her home alive. She was not in any pain, but even before
going into the hospital she had been having trouble with her left knee
which made walking hard. But the day we left that cleared up.
As soon as I got home I began to search the internet hoping to find
more information. As you know at that time it was a difficult task. The
Cardiologist at Kaiser confirmed that controlling the high blood
pressure was going to be the best treatment. I had heard the term aortic
dissection and aortic aneurysm used interchangeably. Still do today. He
told us it was a dissection and gave us a good explanation of what it
was. Our primary doctor left us with the feeling that she might die at
any time. So we felt a lot better after our visit with our specialist.
She gets a CT every 9 months and so far there has been no change. She
has never been in any pain and the only complication is that she gets
out of breath very fast from the handful of pills she takes every day.
We have since moved to Utah and have a very nice primary doctor with
United Health Care, but I have the feeling I know more about our problem
then he does. Although we have been in to see him he hasnít talked in
any detail about her heath problem.
I think we were blessed in being sent to New Hampshire, because we
had friends that wanted us to go to some remote foreign countries. If
that had been the case I donít think she would be alive today.
We donít know what the future holds, but we live day to day and enjoy
our family. She has always had a very positive attitude.
Dick and Vicki Savage
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