Personal Stories: Vickie Swing

I am a 57 yr old female that has never had any heart or blood pressure problems. On 9/24/08 I awoke with the most severe pain in my upper back that I have ever experienced. I was in Indiana visiting my family, so I told my mom I didn't feel well and we went to the local er. The pain was so severe all I can remember is begging someone to please stop the pain. They did an ekg which was fine and then a CT scan. I was immediately life lined to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. I don't remember the flight or even being admitted to Methodist although my family tells me I was awake and talking.

They were giving me morphine and Fentanyl for the pain. On my third day at Methodist I went into a coma that no one seemed to be able to explain. I was in that state for a full week. After waking from the coma I honestly did not know what was going on or why I was there. Very little was explained to me about the aortic dissection, they were more thrilled with the fact I came out of the coma. I was released from the hospital 4 days after waking from the coma with limited instructions. I was told to keep my blood pressure at or below 140, no physical exertion and no lifting.

The next day I noticed a hard knot on my left arm where an IV had been, so I went to the er and discovered I had a blood clot. This was treated with antibiotics and heat compresses. It is still there. I recently saw a cardiologist in my home town an he filled me in on all the information that was not given to me at the time of my dismissal. I have a descending aortic dissection that starts at the subclavical area and goes past my left kidney. He said he has never seen anything like it before and can not actually believe I am alive.

The lack of blood flow to the kidney is now affecting the function of the left kidney. He says the experts at Methodist are doing the right things. They are hoping that scar tissue will close off some of the dissection because if they tried to fix it surgically now I would not survive the surgery. I am supposed to keep my blood pressure at 120 or below and heart rate at 60 or below, not always an easy task. I have had to quite my job in Maine and move back to Indiana permanently, so now I have no insurance and no income. Needless to say I am terrified.

Thanks for letting me vent


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