I recently had surgery for an 8cm aortic aneurysm that was fully dissecting from the root and ascending through the descending . My aortic valve was also repaired. I had virtually no symptoms and had no idea until an echo-cardiogram, to investigate a "slight" murmur, discovered this. I was in surgery the next day and was lucky that the surgeon was also trained in the valve sparing technique. Recovery is going very well so far - at almost five weeks post op, no complications yet. I just read the "Barefoot in November" book. My experience was quite different as I had no time to contemplate or investigate the procedure - it was essentially emergency surgery.
My whole story is detailed on my blog at www.jaminjones.com
The story starts at http://jaminjones.blogspot.
My own personal goal is to resume windsurfing and surfing in 6-8 months.