Every day I feel keenly the loss of Grania from my life—and from this site. She wasn’t quite 50 when she collapsed in front of the clinic in Ireland and died; CPR didn’t help. Several days before that, she had passed out in her apartment after vomiting, but didn’t remember the vomiting. Then, for several days thereafter, she was in terrific pain, but wouldn’t go to the doctor. When she finally did, it was too late. I was in communication with her right until she took the cab to the clinic.
The initial autopsy yielded no definite cause of death, but now Grania’s sister Gisela reports the final diagnosis:
“haemopericardium, rupture of a dissecting thoracic aneurysm”.
You can read the medical explanation of this condition here; it is, my doctor tells me, consistent with her symptoms. The dissection must have began several days before when she got ill, and the aorta must have ruptured when she was at the clinic, filling her pericardium (the membrane around her heart) with blood. She bled to death internally, and the only mercy is that it was quick.
Could she have been saved had she gone to the doctor when she first had pain? It’s not clear: arterial dissections are hard to diagnose, and even so, can persist for months or even years without progressing. She might have been scheduled for surgery, but that might have required a long waiting period, and she would have died anyway.
There’s no use pondering the “what ifs” now, as what happened was fated to happen. But I suppose the diagnosis does help give us some closure, though for me there will never be “closure” (whatever that may be) with respect to Grania.