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Eunice has, insofar as it is possible to say such a thing, completely recovered from her aortic dissection of May 2011.
But I'll leave this tale here for awhile.

Last update (AT BOTTOM) Sept 14, 2011

(link to picture A )     A striking picture of an artery filling with blood after a stent was placed.
(link to picture B )     A picture from a cat scan, showing the extent of blockage of the aorta

Late on May 31,2011

On Monday, May 23, 2011, Eunice Ordman (age 87) was diagnosed with a major type B (descending) Aorta Dissection, an event comparable in risk and impact to a major heart attack, and more often fatal.

Google Aorta Dissection for some details.

Loosely, the inner lining of the aorta tore and blood rushed in, separating the inner  lining from the outer wall of the aorta. There are several major consequences.
(1) The working aorta is much narrowed, increasing blood pressure and load on the heart. (There may be minor damage to the heart valve; there is some prior aortic valve stenosis. So there will be shortness of breath.)
(2) The aorta is now much more fragile so blood pressure must be kept very low (below 120[more flexibility as time increases]). There is at least one substantial aneurysm (3.8 cm.)  
(3) There can be blockage of the side arteries to other organs. The brain is not affected. One kidney has been lost but the other is functional. The real open question is whether enough blood is reaching the gut (intestines). Apparently one of the three arteries in that area is blocked, and two are damaged in an as yet unknown percentage. 

    The surgery necessary to correct these blood blockages would possibly be very major, very risky, and possibly lead to Eunice being a “weak old woman”. Eunice says she would decline surgery on those terms.  The doctors still hold out hope that with blood pressure control and an appropriate diet, she may well recover and be able to live relatively normally (no heavy lifting and no exercises likely to raise blood pressure.)         [later: they think they have a way to get blood to the essential places, by rerouting some internal blood plumbing]
Her mind is fine. She is alert, enthusiastic, enjoys phone calls and visitors. [remove the following: At earlier writing she was in the cardiovascular intensive care ward at Germantown Methodist Hospital.  (No flowers in the intensive car ward).  The best way to make contact is my cell phone, ,,,.]

Daughter Bev and adult granddaughter Heidi are here to help out and support us.

Thursday June 2.

She is out of intensive care,  is now in room 313 South, Methodist Germantown Hospital, room phone 901-....  Cards to the house are fine, hold flowers until she is home. With relatives calling in from as far away was Germany and Pakistan, and daughter Carol and her kids arriving today, there is some resemblance to Grand Central Station.

She is now able to walk to the john instead of being on a bedpan, is sitting in a chair, and eating normally. If there is no digestive pain for another 36 or 48 hours we expect they will (possibly do more tests and ) let her go home (late Friday or Saturday, we hope.)

For those interested in some details, the IMA artery is blocked by the aorta dissection; the other two digestive tract arteries are the Celiac and SMA. The SMA was pinched badly and the celiac pinched in some of the CT scans. Not all doctors agreed on which pinch was more serious or what could be done, but agreed that opening the abdomen was not a likely solution. Tuesday morning the interventional radiologist Dr. Shelton entered through a leg artery  and ran a wire up the aorta and through the small opening  into the SMA, threaded his equipment onto that wire and slid it into position, and placed a stent in the pinch of the SMA.  The resulting increase in blood flow was immediately visible and the vessels are enough interconnected that apparently the area served by the IMA will also be OK.  The Cardiologist (Dr Shala) thinks blood pressure is now OK  (increased Altace dose again) and the Vascular man Dr.Gibson thinks that blood flow is adequate.  The gastroenterologist Dr Gary Wruble is in a wait-and-see mode.

Picture at the Edward Ordman Facebook page,  (link to picture itself)     (A striking picture of an artery filling with blood after a stent was placed)

Thursday June 2   5 pm. 

She has pooped a few times so apparently the backlog in her digestive tract is clearing up now that the organs have enough blood, and evidently everything there is functioning. She is feeling much stronger. So the doctors are talking of sending her home tomorrow.  Hour, of course, is quite unpredictable.  I'd suggest calling the hospital before noon or the house after 5 pm  I'll get updates here and on Facebook, but that may take a few hours after we get home, with seven people in the house!

Friday June 3   1 PM

She is home from the hospital, sitting at the dining room table eating lunch with a large family group. She says "I knocked on death's door, and, this time, death wasn't home." We have a lot of followup doctor visits in the next two weeks.  I'll write some more as time allows, but I probably can't expand much on the large paragraph above.

Monday June 6, 2011

Eunice is doing fine. Today we got up early when it was cool out and walked about 200 yards, including managing our two front steps, with no problem.  The daughters and grandchildren who had gathered have returned to Detroit and Kansas City. The phone calls of good wishes, questions, etc., are tapering off (they've come from as far as Germany and Pakistan) and Eunice would enjoy more phone calls. 901-327-9735

Monday June 27, 2011

It's been slow and complex.  First there was a struggle to get blood pressure under control; the partial blockage of the aorta increases blood pressure, reduces strength of the artery wall, and there is an aneurysm. When that got under control (three new pills) a cold got suddenly worse and by June 20 she developed a fever. The doctors found fluid in one lung and were unsure if this was infective pneumonia or just that with reduced aorta capacity (maybe 25 to 30 percent of what it was) and lowered blood pressure, the heart wasn't getting fluid out of the lungs as well as it should. So she gets antibiotics for the one and diuretics for the other, and more pills to counter their side effects, and is now taking so many pills she wonders if there is room left for food.  The antibiotics have helped, but she is clearly still weak and is resting and sleeping a lot. She mainly is not in pain, still very much herself mentally, and when awake is barreling through DVDS and audio courses from the "Great Courses" series.
      Daughter Bev and granddaughter Heidi have come (for a second time) from Kansas City to help out and keep company.  Carol and her two kids, and Jilana, have also visited.
      She still enjoys phone calls,  8 am to 8 pm CDT recommended.
One of the specialists commented to us that if the doctors seemed slow to answer some questions early on, it may have been since that among 80+ year olds with aortic dissection, the majority die before there is time to answer the common questions.  At this point, while Eunice is still more fragile than before mid-May, she has survived the issues that they don't know how to treat and they are now dealing with problems that they see every day in their normal practice, problems that they feel they know how to overcome. But of course pneumonia can take quite awhile, even in an otherwise healthy patient.

Monday July 4, 2011

      Well, it was not pneumonia, it was fluid accumulated between the outside of the lung and the inside of the rib cage, tending to compress the lung. It is responding well to the diuretic (e.g. amount of fluid reduced an estimated 25 percent in the first week of treatment.)  We did get out and go to church yesterday (her first outing other than to doctors in two weeks) but Eunice found walking in the parking lot and church corridor put her out of breath almost immediately, so we put her in a wheelchair.  It's now been about six weeks since she had any real exercise (Onset of digestive pain was about May 18 and the aortic dissection was not diagnosed until her gastroenterologist couldn't identify the problem with easier tests and ordered the CT scan on May 23) and we are told it will take on the order of four times that long to regain the muscle strength lost during that time - and that she will be somewhat short of breath in the future due to the reduced aortic capacity.  She's also been told that with reduced blood flow to the digestive tract, she should plan on taking it easy for awhile after meals to digest or she may have stomach pains.
       We had our 28th wedding anniversary yesterday. Luckily, there are well accepted and appropriate ways to enjoy celebrating a wedding anniversary that do not require standing on one's feet. 
       We are still hoping that Eunice will be well enough in two weeks or so for us top go up to New London, New Hampshire, for a few weeks to visit with the assorted children and grandchildren up there, particularly with daughter Mary who is in her third year of fighting Ovarian cancer and not able to travel here due to her chemo schedule.
       Phone calls do taper off as the weeks pass in an illness.  Do give us a phone call at 901-327-9735. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

       We saw the cardiologist today. (Unreasonably long wait in an overcrowded waiting room.)  He says that fluid around the lung is still declining satisfactorily and blood pressure now seems well under control. (I take her blood pressure before breakfast and supper and adjust the amount of blood pressure medicine to suit,  a system we adopted several days ago.)    We now have reservations to fly to New Hampshire and will get to spend quite a bit of what is left of summer up there, health permitting. Sunday July 10 we went to church, with her using a cane instead of a wheelchair but not standing up much.

Saturday July 16, 2011

     While Eunice still rests a great deal, the amount of time that she wants to do something is visibly increasing.  She's going into the kitchen to help a little with fixing meals, and spending a few minutes a day packing for the trip.  On Friday evening we went to a show opening at a local art museum, with her sitting in a wheelchair and me taking her through the exhibits.  Saturday morning we went to our "Sunday School" class at Temple Israel, with her using a cane instead of a wheelchair, and later Saturday went to another art museum (using a wheelchair.)   New London NH is not quite as wheel-chair friendly as Memphis but since she can walk short distances and we can probably borrow a wheelchair from the Council on Aging in New London (we've borrowed one from our church in Memphis) we expect we'll be able to get around. 

September 14, 2011

      It may not be fair to say "fully recovered", but as close to it as one can reasonably hope. Eunice is again up to walking a couple of hundred yards (slowly and with pauses for breath), and needs to watch her salt intake for the first time in her life. But she is as enthusiastic about life as ever, and we are manageing to get out to three and four events a day.  We have made a second trip to New Hampshire to visit a daughter with cancer.  The main restriction in life style at the moment is that right now neither of us is driving after dark; I don't know if we'll overcome that, or just get used to relying on friends and (in Memphis) taxis.
      On  the occasion of our first trip to New Hampshire, one of the Memphis specialists said "as soon as you get to New Hampshire, go to the hospital at the Dartmouth medical school and get a vascular surgeon and a cardiologist, so they'll have your records and know you, in case of emergency. But get doctors with gray hair, no young doctor will believe you."  The appointments desk had trouble with this condition, so I went to the Med School website and read faculty resumes, found a likely vascular surgeon (Dr. Fillinger), and called his assistant to make an appointment. We hit it off famously, and he tried the experiment. He sent in a Fellow, that is, an M.D. working to become a specialist in vascular surgery. After looking at Eunice and a few pictures, the Fellow asked "how many years ago was the aortic dissection?... this says May 2011, that can't be right, you couldn't possibly be in thgis good shape just two months after x-rays like these...."

      I probably won't update this sequence of reports again, as we seem to be well past the crisis.