Today's post is a tribute to a friend. His name is Jerome and he lived just outside Gainesville, Florida. Jerome endured his aortic dissection (AD) in 2012, about a year after I had mine. During his dissection and repair surgery he became a paraplegic due to strokes.
Although neither of us new each other at the time, Jerome and I both spent time researching aortic dissection on the internet. Soon thereafter, Jerome contacted Dr. Peter Tsai of Aortic Warriors, one of the original founders of the world wide aortic awareness AD movement and the creator of September Aortic Awareness campaign.
Dr. Tsai sent me an email. Dr. Tsai had read a few of my AD posts and asked if I'd contact Jerome since we were both in Florida. I called Jerome and exchanged emails. Jerome and I talked or emailed every day, encouraging one another through the challenges of dissection life until yesterday when he passed away.
Jerome was a young man still, in his 60s. He made the most of each day, despite being confined to a wheelchair and living alone.
He would take his scooter, ride out to the backyard fence and feed carrots to his neighbor's horse most days, and watch old westerns on television.
When aortic dissection occurs the inner lining or our body's major artery tears apart, leaving the vessel weakened. Over time the weakness results in the aorta dilating and eventually leaking away the blood that our heart is pumping.
Jerome was an inspiration to me because he was challenged even more so physically than I. Fortunately after my dissection I could still walk, though it took some relearning. Seeing another human survive in spite of circumstances more dire than my own made me realize that, yes, I can and will do this. Thank you my friend, for giving me this gift.
Jerome would regularly say, 'carry on, enjoy every moment you have, no matter all the sh*t that is happening'.
He would also want me to encourage others to be screened for aortic aneurysms and vascular health.
Here are a few excerpts of the emails Jerome shared with me over the years.
And as he'd suggest, I am encouraging whoever reads this to schedule a checkup with your cardiologist and discuss dissection, aneurysms and your aortic health. Remember, everything is good until it isn't.
Finally read more about aortic dissection and Ritter Rules on the John Ritter Foundation and Aortic Warriors websites.