Personal Stories: Curt Rak
 

Brian,

Thank you for answering my email. Curt is 52 years old, has both an ascending and descending dissection. Curt had been a smoker since the age of 18 and at the time of his collapse was smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day along with 16-18 cups of coffee, plus we've had a little stress in our lives. We had just finished our Easter Dinner (4/11/04) He walked in from the garage where he had been watching Golf, put a cup on the counter turned around took 6 more steps made a noise put his fingers to his breast bone sat on our stairs and slowly slide sideways.

We laid him on the floor immediately called 911 & our physician. From all indications it appeared that he had a stroke or a seizure. We went to the emergency room. With that information and the fact his left side as paralyzed and swelling, the doctors gave him a cat scan and decided to give him TPA - stroke medication. After informing us of the risks we prayed for God to give us a sign. Well He did! From that little sign of clutching his chest.

The doctors gave Curt an echocardiogram. Immediately they rushed him to surgery. The surgery was 9 hours. They replaced his aortic valve, did one bypass and wrapped the dissection in mesh. He does not remember much before he collapsed until approximately 5 days later although he was awake within 36 hours and the airway was removed and he was talking on Wednesday.

We have much to be thankful for as we have 6 children and 1 granddaughter that were very concerned about him. After 14 days he came home, (might have been home 2 days sooner but sporadically ran a temp. little did any one realize it was the heating blanket they gave him for his back.) Anyway, he came out of the hospital weighing approximately 25-30 lbs less than when he went in. Now that he has stopped smoking he has gained that weight and another 25lbs which is causing him some concern.

He goes to cardio therapy 3 times per week, has a weight lifting restriction of 25 lbs and has not returned to work. We sought a 2nd opinion from  Dr. Tuchek from Loyola (as we live 30 miles from Chicago) who has done work with stints.

He told us Curt was not a candidate because of the risk involved in attaching a stint to the dissected area. We would be interested in talking or sending his medical history to Dr. David, I believe Curt is a little leery of another surgery as am I. He would like to return to work but we are not sure of the risks.

We have been told that he is a catch 22 situation between the dissection and the mechanical valve. Forgive my ramblings but as I said before there aren't many people who understand this situation. Many people believe it is "open-heart" surgery. We have had to explain much of what we really don't understand to those who have asked. We are hoping there are more people or answers out there.

Thanks for listening

Maureen & Curt  

Contact Maureen and Curt

 


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