Personal Stories: David Cusack told by Maria Cusack


My name is Maria and this is my husband David's story.

My husband became ill on the 6th February 2000, he started with severe chest pain which progressed to his back very quickly. He was taken to A & E by ambulance with the friends he was with at the time. I arrived just as he arrived (22.00) to find he was in terrible pain, they gave him morphine which had no effect.

At 5 0'clock in the morning of the 7th I finally went home with the information that he had probably got a perforated ulcer that would be treated with antibiotics and fluids, he would be going for a CT scan later that morning to confirm the diagnosis.

At 10.00 or there about (7.2.2000) I received a phone call to say that David had an aneurysm and may be transferred to another hospital.

It was later that day I was told it was a dissected aorta (a tear) and may be treated by surgery, but control of the blood pressure was the treatment for now, which was 200/240 when he first arrived and life threatening.

David spent 2 weeks in Coronary Care and for the most part was still in some discomfort. He was on morphine via a intravenous pump. His blood pressure was not under control varying from 150/98 to 180/110 and every time a reading was taken this put him under more stress as he had been told he could not go home until it was stable. David became very depressed and needed to come home. Finally it was agreed that he would be better at home. The staff in Coronary Care ward were fantastic and we are very grateful for their support. With the help and assistance from family and close friends David came home.

David was very weak and could not eat very well if at all, he said nothing tasted right. The only thing he survived on at one point was Complan and rest.

After 6 weeks at home he began to pick up, but he's in pain every day even now.

We then started the road to looking for answers, why it happened, what can be done and how.

We were told this was probably caused by high blood pressure and surgery is not an option at the moment. We were also told that the Aorta was not likely to change and his condition would probably be stable providing his blood pressure was controlled. Which it is now as long as he does not get over anxious or stressed.

Over the years he's had MRI scans, CT scans, X rays, 24hr blood pressure monitor readings and many consultations with various doctors.

David's condition changed in 2003 and he started having problems with his legs, they would both go numb at the same time for a period of seconds this has now progressed to minutes.

A scan was arranged and a consultation with a Cardio Thoracic Surgeon. It was confirmed that David's condition had deteriated and he now had an aneurysm as well as the dissection. The Surgeon said that it was now out of his field of expertise and he referred him to a specialist in Birmingham about 100 miles away.

The appointment arrived and we traveled to see Mr. Bonsar at the University of Birmingham Hospital. He was very nice and explained what he would like to do in the first instance. You've guessed it more tests and scans.

David had an angiogram May 2004 and this confirmed that the dissection has extended. The false lumen seems to have taken over from the primary, there is now no possibility of a stent being applied to the Aorta which Mr. Bonsar hoped to be able to do.

It was also confirmed that it was likely that this was caused by the fall that David had on the 30th December 1999 from a telegraph pole. He fell 26ft onto his chest and broke his left wrist, there was no check for any other injury at the time and to be fair there were no signs.

It was decided that for now we would do nothing until another MRI scan had been done to check progression. The scan was done on the 15th March 2005 and we are waiting for the results.

The only operation David can now have is to replace the Aorta, as you can imagine we have lots of questions but are almost afraid to ask.

On the positive side we do not sit and mope, we get on with our lives. We enjoy our 4 grandchildren who keep us amused. We have a good family and a close circle of friends who we know will support us and help us whenever we need it.

We know we will have to make a decision sooner or later whether to go ahead with the operation, but this is one that only David can decide. We know the risks and the likely outcomes, God willing there will be an answer that we can all live with.

Thank you for the site and the many stories I have read, they have given me hope that there is an answer for us and a life still to lead.

Regards to you all and best wishes for your future health

Contact Maria
Phone: 206-550-7957
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