Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm? My god I find it hard to even remember that particular combination of words but it is I am told the condition that I am suffering with. Actually ‘suffering’ is not really involved as I have no symptoms whatsoever but back to the start.
Back on July 30thI had to visit Newmarket Hospital for an Ultrasound scan. Pregnant ladies will be very familiar with these. It’s the one that involves loads of gel on the tummy followed by seeing the sprog-to-be on the screen. Now I certainly was in no doubt that pregnancy was not involved. I was actually having a liver fat check. Due to some slightly elevated blood test readings regarding my diabetes my doctor needed to know if the high readings were caused by my liver being too fatty. The tests were completed and a fairly chipper Stan made his way back home happily although I found out later that I had acquired another speeding ticket on my way back courtesy of a member of our local cash strapped police authority… the gits. A £60 fine and 3 points on my license would soon be occurring. Bugger. And this all happened at Great Bradley on a narrow quiet country lane. A mobile money raising unit… arggghhhh.
A week later I received the letter informing me that my Quack desired my presence and I duly attended along with my Raven. First, the good news. Apparently my liver was comparatively fine. But, and the Doc continued to tell me about the big BUT, the ultrasound scan had by chance uncovered something a little more sinister. She went to explain that I have an Abdominal Aortic Aneurism. (Hereafter I shall refer to it as an AAA)
Yep, a mouthful I know. But basically the Aorta is the main blood vessel to exit the heart. It goes directly down into your abdomen where it splits into 2, one branch to each leg. It also has outlets to various other organs i.e. the liver and kidneys etc. so there is one hell of a lot of blood pumped through it at quite large pressure.
The normal width of the aorta when it is healthy is about 2cm but my aorta had ballooned in my abdomen to 5cm. Now imagine a damaged cycle tyre. Often a bubble of inner tube will blow up similar to my aorta and with the large pressures involved it can pop terminally. Like my aorta also.
Apparently if that happens you have only about a 1 in 10 chance of living to see the hospital. If you do make it there then I’m afraid there’s only about a further 1 in 8 chance of surviving the surgery.
And so I received the glad tidings pretty much in silence, well what can you say, and I left the surgery my mind in turmoil. How could this be? I felt fine but as I had just been told an AAA usually shows no symptoms. My Raven comforted me but I tried to make light of it all. (My way of dealing with unpleasant things). The doctor told me that she would send the findings to a hospital consultant and I should soon receive an appointment for the vascular clinic.
But until then I have to deal with this and well it does not feel real sometimes. As I said I suffer no symptoms. I feel fine, pretty healthy even. There were significant changes due to happen in our lives soon but they would have to be put on hold for a while.
Some nights I do find it hard to sleep. I do try to hide my worry but it’s fairly hard sometimes to do that. And so I even try to look on the bright albeit macabre side of things. If I die at least I won’t have to worry about old age. No dementia, no gradual deterioration of mind and body. No cancer pain. No loss of use of bladder, eyes, hearing or such. On the other hand the bloody government would get out of paying me a pension.
And so I have to fight it and in due course the appointment came for the vascular clinic on 24 September. Oh the fun of Addenbrookes hospital clinics. My appointment was for 3:40pm but as soon as we arrived the little clinic video screen was joyfully proclaiming our consultant was running 1 hour late. In fact it was about 90 minutes before I got the pre-scan.(Another ultrasound this time doing my legs too as apparently you can get secondary aneurisms there too: mine were clear luckily) and it was 6pm before we saw the consultant. He told me of my options and also that my AAA has grown to 5.3cm.
Basically 2 kinds of surgery. Firstly the easier and safer endo-vascular repair. This involves going in through the groin, sort of keyhole surgery and placing a stent in the aorta. A third less chance of dying on the operating table but much more risk of later complications i.e. stent migration and infections. Also regular annual check-ups and possible follow up surgery.
Secondly, a full operation. Opening the abdomen and repairing the aorta. Far longer, trickier and dangerous. But if successful no more needs doing. Virtually cured I suppose although there can be later problems. It also takes 3 months recovery time. I am young comparatively though which I suppose must help my survival chances.
But that my friends is how it stands. This Friday Raven n me go to the hospital again for me to get a CT scan. That will help the consultant advise me on the best possible op for me. And so until then I can do no more than hope for the best. Let me know if you have any info on this condition.
Till next time. Live long n prosper.
© 2012 Stan Rogers. All rights reserved.