By way of elaboration, here's some more detail on what happened.
On 4th Nov I was taken into hospital here in Al Ain with chest and back pains . The good news was that it wasn't a heart attack - the bad news was that it was worse, much, much worse. It turned out to be a dissected aorta which, if the wikipedia link below is correct, has an 80% mortality rate (my surgeon said that the mortality rate is 1% per hour - I received surgery after over 72 hours so the figures look about right!). This means that the very fact that I'm alive puts me into a very exclusive club. Once the diagnosis was made, I was rushed up to the big hospital in Abu Dhabi for an emergency operation.
Aortic dissection - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The surgeons there were superb and they carried out a Bentall operation which took 10 hours with a team of 3 surgeons (I think) and included the fitment of a mechanical aortic valve
Bentall procedure - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Aortic valve replacement - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
It was a MAJOR procedure and the aortic dissection has a far higher mortality rate than a heart attack. I was on a bypass machine for some time, too:
Cardiopulmonary bypass - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
It was very difficult for Phillippa and Hannah as they had to through this whilst I was being operated upon, although my mum was able to dash out here and arrived about 48 hours after the operation. I was in intensive care for several days, heavily sedated during the initial recovery. After about 4 or 5 days I was placed on a normal ward and allowed to go home 10 days after the operation. Given the degree of trauma that I have been exposed to, the recovery rate has been staggering and the care I've received from medics, family and friends has been just wonderful.
I was released from hospital on thursday - just 10 days after the operation. I'm back home in Al Ain where I shall be recuperating until further notice.
My recovery is going well - I can move around surprisingly well, the valve is working nicely (it's titanium and carbonfibre) and whilst I'm taking a million pills a day (and will need to forever) I should make a full recovery by about Christmas or just after. I will have to take it easy for a couple of months but then should be able to lead a normal life with regular checkups and appropriate drug therapy. What is odd is hearing the valve "click" each time my heart beats.
The mechanical valve requires my blood to be kept artificially thin and so I'll be on anti-coagulent drugs for the rest of my life. The valve itself should last forever. I'm now going to be be getting a blood clotting test every week, reducing to every 2-4 weeks if the results are OK. I will get regular CT scans, chest xrays ECGs and so on which means that I will have a much better idea about what's going on inside my chest than most people will have about theirs. This has been a major event (understatement of the year!) but the knowledge and monitoring that I will have will put me in a good position to maintain my health - better than many others.
Take care and mind your blood pressure!