Personal Stories: David Mansker

Until my experience with an Aortic Dissection, I had never heard of this happening. My experience was with my father, a 62 year old nonsmoker with no prior medical problems. My parents had children when they were older, so I still live at home.


My dad woke my mother and myself up at 15 minutes till 5 in the morning. He kept saying that he was in terrible pain, mostly in his back region. My mother and I thought he was having a heart attack so she made him lay down on the couch, with much protest on his part, gave him some aspirin, and had me call 911.


The hospital at first was treating it like it was a heart attack, they checked to see if he was spilling enzymes and monitoring him. When we arrived at the hospital his blood pressure was low, but it was randomly shooting extremely high. The nurses called the ER doctor and he wanted them to do a CT Scan. When he returned they came in the room and told us he was not having a heart attack, that he had an aortic dissection, and that the Cardiologist at the hospital could not treat him.


He was then transferred to the Texas Heart Institute in Houston. When the doctor talked to us before he went in to surgery he said that my father had an aortic dissection in both the ascending and descending aorta, and had dissected to his mid left thigh.


They were highly negative that he would not live through the surgery and if he did that it was likely that he would never wake up again. Knowing this we said our goodbyes and sent him up. Surgery was 7 hours, they replaced part of his aorta with the graft and his aortic valve as well. Recovery has been an uphill battle, two steps forwards one step back.


For days he did not make any attempt to wake up or breath on his own, although he was not receiving any drugs. His liver was acting funny and his kidneys were not functioning properly. He was not moving his left side so there was a possibility of a stroke. He spent 8 days in the CV ICU, and another week on the cardiac floor.


We are very lucky because we were told my father would not live, but he has and everything works. Recovery will be long, but each day we make a little progress.


Updated: 2/23/2005:

It has been a month since my father's surgery. After two weeks in the hospital he was allowed to come home. Honestly, this is where the story gets kinda fishy. My dad was sent home with his knee swollen twice its size. The doctors did not know what was wrong with it. They pulled a sample and determined that there was no infection. My father who was then unable at the time, was sent home. I over heard at the nurse's station, a nurse telling a doctor, that she had told our doctor to send us to outpatient because we had no health insurance.

The knee situation was determined, at home, that it was gout. We have had two episodes in two weeks. I being a future nursing student, I start in the fall, was looking through the surgery summary. I read that there was a partial blockage found in one of my dad's blood vessels. To this date no one has made mention of a blockage. Today, one month and 3 days from surgery, the doctor's nurse called and told my mother that my father had been released. My dad will no longer see the cardiologist and we were told not to call back, that my mother was a smart woman and she could figure it out.

Does this seem odd to anyone but me?

Thanks for any help or advice.




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