On 7/6/94 at age 63 I had an abdominal aortic-iliac aneurysm graft. I was in the hospital 9 days and had no complications then nor since with the possible exception that my energy level is just now returning to normal. In the past month my energy level and the way I feel is so good that I can't remember feeling this good EVER! I cannot say whether this lack of energy was from the surgery or other reasons.
In 5/89 during a complete general physical I was told I had blockage of my Heart arteries to the extent I was a good candidate for Heart Surgery but we would use conservative treatment. I was also told I had an aortic aneurysm of 4.2 cm but we watch it and my doctor would not recommend surgery before it reached 6 cm. My doctor was a general internist but stated he specialized in heart disease. For this reason, the aneurysm was not mentioned again for the next several years and I forgot I had this problem.
Unfortunately, the doctors office called me in 1991 and stated the doctor was ill and would be off 3 months and canceled my appointment. This illness stretched on into 1994. I later learned the doctor had become addicted to drugs and so I was not examined or treated except for ongoing medication for my heart for 3 years.
Finally, in April 1994 I went to another Internist who scheduled numerous tests. One test showed I had blood in my colon and the sonogram showed my aneurysm was now 7 cm which was a surprise since I had forgotten about it. After my doctor explained the statistics (not good) and the complications of heart disease and blood in the colon, he immediately called a group of cardiovascular surgeons who recommended a vascular surgeon who was more experienced in this type of surgery.
I might explain that my medical insurance would pay almost 100% no matter where I had the surgery so I considered Dr. Debakey in Houston, Mayo Clinic and Scott & White clinic in Temple, Tx. but the local surgeon was recommended by everyone (medical & lay people) as an excellent surgeon. I never heard one bad thing about him. I saw him the next day after finding out I needed the surgery and my first thought was he had better keep his day job as a surgeon because he would never make it as a comedian. He wanted to schedule surgery immediately but I wanted to wait for the results of my stress tests and colon tests. He reluctantly agreed to this but urged me not to put it off as it would take some time to assemble a surgical team that he wanted to use for this type of surgery.
The blood in the colon was dismissed as nothing and the Cardiologist made a flip of a coin decision on by heart blockage. It had not deteriorated in 3 years so they felt I could withstand the aneurysm surgery.
SUMMARY: I went in surgery with complete confidence since I had talked to a number a people and accepted that the surgery was my only choice. My only concern was about possible pain since I had never had any major surgery but I was medicated properly for pain.I did not even need a sleeping pill the night before the surgery. Of course, the vascular surgeon that I didn't like on my first visit turned out to be a very caring person as well as an excellent surgeon. As stated above, my recovery was excellent and according to the doctors it was a text book example of how this type of surgery should go. Three months later I was walking 4 miles a day and returned to work. I might add my surgeon performs this type of surgery about 20 times a year and is recognized throughout the eastern part of Texas as the best in all areas. He also does all the kidney removals and transplants in this area. And since my surgery was performed in my local area, it was more convenient for me and my family members. I would like to stress that I could have gone anywhere for this surgery since it was not a financial decision due to the insurance I have but I am glad I chose a local hospital and doctor but I would not have hesitated to travel across the country if I felt it was necessary. I would not recommend this as a way of making money but I think I made a profit of $20.00 after all the insurance paid.
I would be glad to discuss this directly with anyone facing this surgery.
Update 11 Dec 97
My AAA surgery was on 7/6/94 and in approximately 10/95 I was admitted to the hospital with extreme stomach pain. The tentative diagnosis was SBO caused by adhesions from abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery. Nothing was shown on X-rays or other tests so the diagnosis was a "probable" based on symptoms rather than objective medical evidence. The number one conservative treatment is to starve the adhesions, I.e., no food for 2 to 4 days which apparently worked.
More recently on 12/7/97 I had another but more severe attack and was admitted to the hospital again and had the same treatment. This time extensive tests and X-rays showed there was an SBO. I was told that adhesions can not be X-rayed but the doctors feel certain that is the problem. Again I was starved for 3 days and received relief but I still have a partial obstruction and the recommendation is if and when it happens again that surgery would probably be needed. I am feeling fine now and may never have this problem again but the odds quoted were about 50% that I would have the problem again. I would like to stress that the pain I had over a two day period was the worse pain I have ever experienced over an extended period of time. I do not desire surgery but I would prefer that to the pain. I have been told that if you wait longer than 48 hours, then there could be some catastrophic results in addition to the pain. I don't recommend having your stomach pumped as a way to spend a Sunday but then it was Pearl Harbor Day.
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