Saratoga Today 11-11

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Friday, November 11, 2011


Author Runs ‘Barefoot in November’ Ballston Spa Native Writes About Survival, Fate and Beating Odds

by Barbara Cook Saratoga TODAY BALLSTON SPA - At 37, Ballston Spa native Benjamin Carey appeared to be in excellent health. He took care of himself and worked out regularly, but following a routine physical in 2009 he was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm, changing his life dramatically. “The aorta is the main hose to the heart and it’s a very high pressure circuit,” Carey explained. “You have a bunch of valves on your heart, and this is just above the aortic valve. So all your blood pumps in the thing and it comes off your heart where the valve is.” An aortic aneurysm is like a bubble in a car’s radiator hose, which if left untreated can split or burst without warning. “That’s what happened to the actor John Ritter,” Carey said. “He dropped dead because his split.” The survival rate following a burst aneurysm is low, as the victim bleeds into the chest cavity. Even those who survive face numerous issues, Carey said. One good thing that resulted from Ritter’s death was the increase in awareness of the disorder. Carey said the bubble in his aorta was more than 5 centimeters in size when it was detected, and an aneurysm of that size is grounds for immediate surgery. However, Carey delayed the surgery for six months while he researched the disorder and tried to find other options. By the time he consented to the surgery, the aneurysm was more than 7 centimeters and he was about

Photos by

Author Benjamin Carey with his wife Nicole and their children: baby Sullivan, daughter Milan and son Preston, who is pictured on the book cover. a month away from dying. Carey credits his surgeon, Dr. Allan Stewart, with saving his life. “My surgeon is amazing not so much because of the surgery,” Carey said, “but as an individual he was able to get through to me on a human level and say ‘look, this is not something to mess around with, you have to get this surgery.’ He established a relationship with me and was able to get through to me.” Carey began writing a blog about his experience, which evolved into a book, “Barefoot in November.” He said he started the blog because although there was plenty of information about the clinical aspects of open-heart surgery, there wasn’t much about dealing with the emotional and real-life issues of juggling a job and family. Carey said although part of the book is about being diagnosed with the aneurysm and facing a

potentially life-threatening disorder, it’s also about the internal conflicts he encountered. “It’s about being in denial and being a typical man and feeling invincible and not wanting to get the surgery and all that stuff.” He said in hindsight he wishes he’d had the surgery earlier, but since he was fortunate in having it in time to save his life, he wants to share his story with other men who are in a similar situation. “If you’re a typical man,” he said, “it’s your worst nightmare to have something like this.” “I tried to really write about what I was going through and how I was angry at the world for having the stupid thing,” Carey said. “And also about not sitting around being depressed after surgery but getting out there and running a marathon and being strong and being a role

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Table of Contents pg 15:

Hiking From Fall to Winter

pg 16:

First Pediatric Urgent Care Center Opens in Saratoga County

pg 17:

Unique Photo Project Supports Equine Assisted Therapies

pg 18:

November is for Alzheimer’s Awareness and Giving Thanks to Caregivers

pg 19:

Local Activities and Events for Seniors

pg 20:

Helping Hands

pg 21:

All Aboard the Polar Express!

pg 22:

Parenting: Seeking Reconciliation

pg 23:

Squeezing in the Family Fun for Thanksgiving

pg 24:

There’s a Map for That!

pg 25:

The Spirit of Thanksgiving

pg 26:

Ask the Financial Advisor

pg 27:

Community Corner

pg 28:

Pets: A Two-Week Road Trip

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