Everybody in my small family has an an aneurism. My mother died of a berry aneurism at the base of her brain when she was 37. My brother had a berry aneurism in the same spot, it burst and he was hospitalized for eight months trying to recover from it, and my dad died in October 1996 from an abdominal aortic aneurism (AAA).
Dad had a horrible death. He was on holidays in Idaho when he collapsed and had emergency surgery on his aorta when it ruptured on the operating table. They were able to cap it once, then it ruptured again and he lost pretty near all the blood in his body. He made it through surgery but the prognosis was not good. He had multiple organ failure (kidneys, heart, liver, and bowel). His foot was also black and they thought that they may have to amputate it. Dad's bowel was without blood for a period of time so he ended up getting gangrene in it. During the first operation they took out about 3 feet of his large intestine and installed a colostomy. Four days later they had to take out the rest of the large intestine and 25 % of the small intestine because the gangrene had spread and an iliostomy was then installed. They said that he would probably never eat solid foods again or he may even have to be fed through an IV for the rest of his life. From the first operation on, he also had to be on dialysis every couple of days because his kidneys weren't pumping out any urine. Of course he was also on a ventilator because he couldn't breath on his own and his colour was yellowy/brown because of his liver failure.
After a couple of weeks I noticed dad's stomach was getting bigger and bigger. His surgeon asked the family to come into the room so he could explain what was happening. The IV that was put in his nose to feed him was collecting in his stomach cavity. It wasn't being digested - it was just collecting. To illustrate this he put a pointer (cotton batton swab) in his incision and everything squirted out of his stomach. With each breath the machine took, the IV fluid leaked out of the whole incision. I have never in my life seen anybody look as sick as my dear dad. But throughout all this, he was cognizant of what was going on. The surgeon then said that they would have to perform another operation because all of the fluid that was collecting in my dad's stomach was pressing on his lungs and heart and would eventually kill him. Dad came through this surgery and you would think that they could have fixed this new problem but they couldn't. Dad's stomach was like cottage cheese, and they couldn't suture the hole. They put a catheter in with a balloon to try and fill the hole.
Within a few days of the surgery dad sort of came around. The doctors in Idaho Falls indicated that if he continued to progress, and become stable enough, they would fly him home in a medical jet. Low and behold the insurance company did not supply a jet that was suitable enough for somebody as sick as my dad. In addition, dad started bleeding a couple of days beforehand, had about six drainage tubes put in, and had blood transfusions daily to keep up with his blood loss. The paramedics that were supplied by the insurance company didn't know how to use Dad's IV machine which regulated his blood pressure, and didn't have the proper equipment to suction out all the blood that was collecting in dad's stomach. When dad finally landed in Calgary, he threw up blood all over the place, and they thought it was finally over for him, but he survived.
Dad spent another three weeks in intensive care in the hospital in Calgary. I got to tell you, the doctors in the U.S. are much more aggressive than the physicians they have here. The doctors here at the General Hospital decided that dad should not have dialysis as often as he was having in the States. They decided that they didn't want to use the drug albumin because of the mad cow scare, so eventually dad died. Without the dialysis for a week he blew up like a balloon and became all shinny because there was no where for his urine to go and it was slowly poisoning him. Dad was put in isolation because of infection and we couldn't touch him without having gloves or a gown on. They day before dad actually died, he coded right in front of me. We allowed the doctors to revive him with drugs because the paddles would have been too hard on him.
What is really sad is that they always held on to some sort of hope for dad. He lasted 7 weeks and 2 days with all the horrendous operations and procedures that he had. Even up to the last few minutes before he died, he was kissing us goodbye.
I don't have as many nightmares as I use to have about dad's death, but it's been very hard. I've become somewhat neurotic with my own aches and pains and wonder if I'm going to face the same fate as my mom, dad and brother have. Have any of you out there has as much experience with aneurisms as I've had with family members? I'd really like to hear from you.