It takes a lot to get Tom Siok off the golf course before the 18th hole. So, something must have been serious when he pulled the plug on his round midway through the back nine on a Saturday morning back in May.
|HEART STORY: TOM SIOK
"On the 15th hole I started to feel a lot of pain in my back," recalls Siok, 64 years old, of South Barrington. "I told the guys I had to quit."
The plan was to go home and relax, but the pain was not subsiding so that developed into a call to his wife, Dolores, to come and get him at the Royal Fox Country Club in St. Charles. Upon arriving, Dolores wanted to call an ambulance, but Tom insisted she drive him to Edward Hospital, where he'd previously been a patient, as had his wife and mother-in-law.
Twenty-nine miles and a CT scan later, Siok was in a fight for his life. He had been diagnosed with an aortic dissection, an often fatal condition in which there's a tear in the inner layer of the aorta.
"I had a feeling I wasn't going to go home right away, but didn't realize the seriousness of the situation," says Siok.
Cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon John Grieco, MD, made it clear.
"Some patients die instantly because they bleed to death," explains Dr. Grieco, who practices with Cardiac Surgery Associates. "In Mr. Siok's case, it was just the thin outer layer that was holding the aorta together."
Siok's dissection carried even greater risks to treat because of his history of cardiac and vascular surgery:
--A stent inserted to treat a coronary artery blockage
--Triple bypass surgery
--Surgery to repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm
"This was one of the most challenging procedures I've done in a long time," says Dr. Grieco. "There were grafts attached to the dissected aorta that needed to be preserved and we had to work around and remove extensive scar tissue from the previous operations."
It took Dr. Grieco, cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon James Gramm, MD of Cardiac Surgery Associates and the Edward team eight-and-a-half hours to repair Siok's aortic dissection (they started at 9 p.m. Saturday night and ended at 5:30 Sunday morning).
"They obviously did a great job. I couldn't have asked for anything more from anybody who was involved," says Siok, who's returned to his job of 43 years as a State Farm insurance agent. "I'm a Type A personality. I like to work."
And play golf. Siok returned to the course in July and is playing a couple times each week.
"I thank God and the entire Edward organization for the gift of another chance to embrace life."