TALK TO A
Established April 15, 1995
University of West Georgia Disclaimer
6 March 1999
First, my father's story from 1979. We lived in Bisbee, Arizona at the time, William had been in generally good health, but was under a great deal of stress from working full time for the government and trying to start up a family business. He had high blood pressure and was on medication, no salt, no caffeine. About a year before he died, his doctor told him his pressure was normal, and he could go off the medication. On Saturday morning, November 24, he had come to the movie theater I was working at to help my boss with an electrical problem. He fixed it and had gone out to his car. I suddenly heard him yelling for me, I found him doubled over between two cars. He told me to take him to the hospital, about a 10 minute drive.
He was in pain but conscious and talking to me. He was able to walk into the emergency room, and immediately hoisted himself up on a gurney. He was hooked up to heart monitors, etc., but nothing appeared to be wrong with his heart. I had to go home to baby-sit my little brother so my mom could come to the hospital. Over the course of the next few hours his condition seemed to stabilize, he had a bowel movement on the bed, which convinced my mother that his only problem was constipation! He was feeling well enough to call his boss and ask him to bring over some reports he was working on so he could continue his work at the hospital.
Around 10pm, they still had no idea what was wrong with him, his condition was deteriorating again, so they decided to take him to a hospital in Tucson. My father told my mother and his boss to follow the ambulance up to Tucson, but 1st go home and get clothes and bring his work papers. Well, the ambulance left for Tucson, but my father died en route, around 12:17am 11/25/79. He was 60 years old.
When the doctor performed the autopsy the next day is when they discovered the dissecting aortic aneurysm, with a dissection so long the doctor told the students observing they may never see one that big again. I can't help wondering if the doctors in Bisbee had just sent my father to Tucson right away to be scanned if he couldn't have been saved, but I was 16 at the time and my mother and I were just so stunned and distraught we never pursued the issue.
Nineteen years and a couple months later, this time living in Tucson, Arizona, lighting strikes again. My mother was 76, and her only known health problem was 5 years earlier she was diagnosed with a pheochromocytoma on her adrenal gland. She was successfully operated on, and had been feeling great, but she did not like going to the doctor, and had not seen one since her operation. She had always had great blood pressure, around 90 over 60, and we figured if her heart could survive the stress of living with the "pheo", she'd live to 100.
On January 6, 1999, her neighbor came to my house (I live 5 houses from my mom) and said she wasn't answering her door. I ran down, she had left the back door ajar, and found her sitting on the couch with the phone in her hand, eyes closed. She didn't feel cold, I started doing CPR while my neighbor called 911, but it was too late. Two days later I got the autopsy report back that she had died of cardiac tamponade due to a dissecting aortic aneurysm on the ascending aorta.
I have to believe it's pretty unusual for two genetically unrelated people to die from virtually the same thing, my greatest concern now is what I do to prevent and monitor myself for this condition, and the genetic predisposition I and my two boys may have. In addition, my father's mother and father both had aneurysms.
Thank you for reading this.
© Copyright 1999 Margie Rye
All Rights Reserved - Fair Use acknowledged
Discussion, comments, or questions: Margie Rye