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My father had an Aortic Aneurysm Dissection

  • 1.  My father had an Aortic Aneurysm Dissection

    Posted 08-02-2020 16:11
    Hi there,

    I joined this community to hopefully learn more about what my dad went through, so I can understand how to help him. He is 71 years old and had the aneurysm in the spring of 2016. He was living alone at the time, and managed to call an ambulance before he passed out. His neighbor called me and told me she saw him leave in an ambulance and which hospital they took him to. I went to the hospital and they told me he had a heart attack, but he was alert and talking in the ER, and they would keep me updated. The doctor came back and said he actually had an aortic aneurysm dissection and he would be rushed into surgery. They told me he had a 50/50 chance of surviving the surgery.
    I called my husband and we waited. After many hours, they came out to tell us he was alive, but still under and they would not know if he had any small strokes during bypass and what his mental state might be upon waking. Eventually we were told to go home to sleep, as we was still not awake. I woke up around 2am to call the hospital to see how he was doing, and they told me they had to keep him sedated because he kept trying to get out of bed and pull the breathing tube out of his mouth.
    We went back to the hospital in the morning, he was still very agitated and they were wary about bringing him out of the anesthesia completely.
    I don't remember how long it was, but I talked to him for a long time- telling him positive stories and memories that were calming and happy. Eventually he was awake..and very disoriented. Fast forward- they said he did not appear to have any brain damage but was still in ICU for 10 days. He was heavily drugged which I guess is common? So all of that time was a bit of a blur. My mother, brother, and grandma flew in from out of the country to see him. We were just all so happy he survived and it was wonderful.

    As he worked through recovery, I kept thinking he would eventually be "himself again" but his personality seemed very different. He was so quiet and withdrawn, which is the opposite of how he actually is. I just kept feeling grateful that he was alive, and expected that he felt very confused and afraid. He was very healthy before this happened- so talking to him about it, it was obvious that it was a very frightening event that he couldn't fully comprehend.
    Over the last couple of years he seemed to be okay- but he had a tremor and couldn't paint or play guitar like he used to- which was devastating to him. I noticed that he started drinking more often, and larger quantities. About a year after, my husband and I had moved a few hours away for a job opportunity, and weren't seeing him on a regular basis, so I wasn't sure how bad the drinking was. When we would see him at the holidays he seemed very depressed, and was drinking a lot. Eventually we decided to move back to be closer to him. We ended up staying with him from October 2019-February 2020 and that's when I really saw how bad his drinking had become. In March he got so drunk that he passed out and almost fell down the stairs, we had to call an ambulance because he was unconscious. He had over the legal limit in his blood at 5am, and lied to the doctor about how much he had drank. The doctor was frank with him, and told him he had to stop drinking. So he did- with the assistance of some anxiety medication to lessen the side effects of withdrawal. It didn't seem like he really realized how bad his drinking had actually got, even though I had spoke to him about it. It was the doctor telling him to stop that he finally heard the message.
    For reference he had been drinking about 2 bottles of red wine as well as about 5 gin martini's per night. He had stopped bathing regularly, and would sit in his bath robe all day on his computer until 5pm- at which point he would start drinking, and drink until he passed out.
    He didn't seem to care that my husband and I were there, and witnessing this behavior, he would be talking to the computer, and babbling on about nothing even when he knew we were in the next room. I even found out I was pregnant and told him in hopes that it would make him happy- and he barely seemed to care. We decided to move out because I couldn't stand to be in that environment and watch him deteriorate like that.
    About 2 weeks sober he seemed like he was doing amazing- he had started painting again, his tremor had really improved, and so had his mood. He seemed excited for the first time in forever and I thought that things were only going up from there. After about 3 months of sobriety I could tell he was starting to get bored. When I would see him he would talk about "how bad would it be if I just had one beer" and make jokes about drinking again. Eventually in June he did have a beer, but said he had only had a few here and there.

    This has been a really hard time for me, as my dad and I were always incredibly close. He was my biggest supporter, and I was his. Now, we barely speak, and we live 20 minutes away from each other. He never calls me, or makes plans to see me.
    He seems completely uninterested in most things, including me and my pregnancy. He is often very irritable and rude at times. He never joined a support group after the "Event" (as he calls it) and still doesn't exercise. He seems like he is very depressed, and when I try to talk to him about it- he is impartial. He doesn't seem to care about helping himself at all.

    I wanted to tell you all this story in hopes that you could give me some insight into how I can help him.
    Have any of you experienced anything like this post surgery? If so- what are some things you have done to help yourself? If you were me, what would you do?
    Sorry this was SO LONG..but I am having my baby in 5 weeks, and I want him to be able to meet the person that I know my dad is- and I'm worried that if I don't do something to help him, that my child will never meet my father.
    Thank you

    Rachel Graham

  • 2.  RE: My father had an Aortic Aneurysm Dissection

    Posted 08-04-2020 13:47
    Dear Rachel
    thank you for reaching out to Mended Hearts.
    I cant imagine the roller coaster of emotions that you are going through.
    is he willing to see his doctor and get something for depression? Is he eating?
    Sound like some dementia is starting with him. AND and Covid 19 issues add to all your stress.
    your first responsibility is to your health and baby to come l. Is there any other family or friends to help you? a Social worker ?

    My husband suffered so much from my heart surgery complications: i joke that he got PTSD. please take care of yourself!!!
    Marilyn B. Rosenhouse
    Mobile: (214)850-0655

  • 3.  RE: My father had an Aortic Aneurysm Dissection

    Posted 08-05-2020 08:06
    dear Rachel
    my husband ( as a caregiver) and I discussed your situation ( he reads the open forum too). His first reaction was You must take care of yourself and baby first. he remembered 41 years ago with my first pregnancy that I was constantly crying over a friend’s situation... the gynocologist told me to stop because the depression was bad for the baby-to-be. Yes (I know) its easier saud than done. congratulations 🎉 to you and your husband. he is a keeper!!

    Marilyn B. Rosenhouse
    Mobile: (214)850-0655

  • 4.  RE: My father had an Aortic Aneurysm Dissection

    Posted 08-11-2020 14:43
    Edited by Victor Fabry 08-11-2020 14:46
    I have survived two aneurysm surgeries over the past 13 years and understand the difficulty some patients have in their recovery. Your dad needs the support of a local mended hearts member who has survived the same type of surgery.  I suggest you go to to find a local chapter in your fathers state and city.  Mended Hearts mission is to support heart patients before and after surgery.
    Good luck,

    Victor Fabry, CEO
    Greylock Advisors, LLC
    Short Hills, New Jersey

  • 5.  RE: My father had an Aortic Aneurysm Dissection

    Posted 08-12-2020 11:45
    Rachel : i encourage you too to meet Mended Hearts families . Ee are here to help you too !

    Marilyn B. Rosenhouse
    Mobile: (214)850-0655

  • 6.  RE: My father had an Aortic Aneurysm Dissection

    Posted 08-12-2020 12:05
    Hello Rachel,
    Victor is right he needs to get in touch with a mended hearts chapter member. Also what he is going through is clearly depression. He may have had a stroke during the surgery. All that along with the medication he was and is taking that can affect sour personality. 
    I am 71 myself and I know that after my surgery I felt like I was not as useful as once was. I felt like things were coming to an end for me and my life. I had my CABG in 2015 and now I am traveling with my wife around the country and enjoying life again.
    Mended Hearts really helped me. It showed me I was not alone and that life does go on and that I can be useful and I can have fun. 
    Not being able to do the things he loved to do would depress him and he needs to be shown that he can do other things and relearn the things he likes to do. 
    Everything you are going through with him can get better. He just needs to talk to some of us either via phone or on line like you are right now. 
    He may even benefit from some counseling. I used therapy for many years myself and it helps. 
    I used the VA for my counseling, but I do not know if your father is a veteran. If not, medical insurance will oftentimes help with the costs.
    I hope that Victor and I have helped give you a place to start from. Let your dad read this and what others have gone through on this forum. I think it will help him to know we are there for him and he can ask us the things he can't or won't ask the family.
    I am glad you found this forum and good luck. It can and will get better. ☺

    Richard Short 
    Chapter 395