My mom died February 4, 1997 from a ruptured abdominal aneurysm. Her aneurysm was diagnosed in May of 1996 by accident when she had an ultrasound during an exam with a cardiologist for atrial fibrillation. At that time she was told they could do surgery but most people don't live through it. She was told later that her aneurysm was 4 cm and they don't do surgery until they are at least 6 cm.
Mom was 75 years old. She had chronic lymphocytic leukemia, diagnosed approximately 4 years ago. Her oncologist kept her WBC below 30,000, it was 15,000 the last time it was checked. She was taking digoxin and coumadin, but had never had a heart attack. She was hospitalized in 1994 for a couple days for "heart irregularities" and again for 1 day in March of 1996 for the same thing.
She was not real good at understanding medical jargon and we are so upset with ourselves for not questioning her doctor in regards to her aneurysm. For some reason we believed that since they told mom they would just watch it we trusted them. The doctor that found the aneurysm was in her small town hospital, they would not even begin to be equipped to handle such surgery, and ultimately were not equipped to handle the rupture.
She was taken to the hospital in a private car by paramedic friends. She convulsed and lost consciousness on the way. Even though they had called the hospital in advance and asked for a doctor to be there, when they arrived, not only was there no doctor, the ER door was locked. After kicking the door and yelling, someone finally came with a wheelchair! I'm sure it was too late at that point for my mom. At least 2 more hours went by before she was finally transported by helicopter to a larger hospital where she died 1 1/2 hours later. The death certificate states ASVD (which I believe probably was the cause of the aneurysm?) and ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm.
My dad died on December 14, 1996 as a result of renal failure due to diabetes. As we mourned the loss of my dad, my mom repeatedly expressed her concern over her aneurysm and had made an appointment for February 21 to request that it be repaired. As my sisters and I struggled to accept the loss of our dad we had to begin to plan another funeral, and try to come to terms with the loss of both our parents.
I don't know if they should have done surgery on my mom or not. This experience along with several during my dad's battle with diabetes have convinced me that every family needs to have a doctor in it. I am a medical secretary so I am familiar with medical terminology and have always tried to get information when my parents were ill, but this time I was too late.