I live in the UK and we appear to be somewhat less knowledgeable about AAA's. My experience with an AAA was through my Mum who suffered a rupture on 2nd June, 1997, and died instantly (so we were told). She was not found until the next morning (15 hours later).
Mum was diagnosed 2 years ago and was having regular bi-annual scans. The growth of the AAA was not noticeable. A week prior to her death I decided to check out Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (having looked up the spelling), not because our trust for the medical profession is not profound, but for my own interests. I printed out some information and gave them to my Mum, the Tuesday night before. This information clearly explained a lot more and we realised things were more serious, if not life threatening.
My Mum had had a scan 2 weeks prior to her death and the aneurysm had grown to 4 c.m., one whole centimeters in 8 months. She had lost about 2 stone in weight and when she visited her GP on the 2nd June 1997 she was advised to have a number of blood tests and to visit her surgeon. She phoned me that evening at 4.48 p.m. after seeing the G.P. and her words will always remain in my mind, "As far as the aneurysm is concerned there is no need to worry I am not in the danger line". We spoke of other things, including her concerns that she could feel the aneurysm through her stomach. But I played ignorant as I thought it was paranoia due to the information I had given her.
My Mum was more anxious, coming from the surgeon, about the operation - than a rupture, and all her family was just starting to take notice. Unfortunately circumstances prevented us from doing our homework for our Mum but maybe we can learn for the rest of her family. Two sons, three daughters, four grand-daughters and seven grandsons.
I have requested a scan and have been told that the normal procedure of scanning is at the age of 50-55 (more risk). I insisted on having this scan and I still await for my appointment seven weeks later.
I feel that my Mum had not been treated fairly as her appointment was two months late as they had lost her notes and further evidence, loss of weight and having suffered a flu like illness a week before.
Update 9 Jun, 1998
I have now had my scan and there is no sign of any aneurysm. A scared lack of knowledge on behalf of myself. I am aware that 50-55 years of age is definitely the higher risk factor.
I retrieved my Mum's medical notes and was astounded by the information that they held. My Mum's aneurysm had grown to 5.6 cm and was originally founded in Nov 1995 to be 4.cm. Her treatment was 'watchful waiting', which consist of a scan every 6 months. This never happened. There was also a mention of intervening earlier as my Mum's weight and health were her disadvantages. Unfortunately, for our Mum her treatment, without being prejudice, was not to standard and I wrote to the hospital for an investigation enclosing my research material. I have received a reply and have been offered a consultation with my Mum's consultant and the Clinical Service Manager. A letter of reply stated that 'Why it is not possible to pinpoint the exact cause of the error after this length of time but there was undoubtedly a communication breakdown at this point'. This is referring to her scan appointments that never automated.
Nothing will ever bring back my Mum and we are all humans, who make mistakes, but I feel that my Mum was let down. I am still questioning myself with 'what ifs' which I am aware is part of the grieving process but it still hurts as I miss her deeply, likewise all her family whom I am lucky to have.
I would just like to add that my Mum's passing on has dramatically changed my outlook on life. I take each day as it comes. I make and take time to help others. I tell my children, family and friends how much I love them and that life is precious and we are all entitled to be happy and to make the most of what we have as we do not know what tomorrow brings.
"It is better to have lived and regret the things you have done rather than regret the things you haven't!"
All my love, Mary