SUE Cummings knew something was wrong with her partner on a Thursday in March last year.
“I just felt this massive whoosh feeling coming around me and all of a sudden I had this thought in my head that there was something wrong with Karl,” she said.
Karl Giersch had gone to work after feeling worn out all week. By the time he reached the 10th floor of his building, his body was already shutting down.
He and Sue’s relationship had spanned decades. Teenage sweethearts until Karl left for the army after year 12, they didn’t see each other again for 18 years.
But in 2004, the couple, who had grown up in Glen Waverley, found each again through the Wesley College network when she was 34 and he was 36.
Ms Cummings says the neither she nor Karl had forgotten their relationship. “Both of us confessed that we always loved each other; even after 18 years of no contact, we still felt for each other,” she said.
The couple amalgamated their families and began raising four teenage daughters together.
After learning Karl had collapsed on that day in March, Ms Cummings was packing an overnight bag when she got a call from the paramedics with the worst possible news.
“He was gone. I was devastated.”
A coroner’s report would later find that two of Karl’s arteries were blocked and that he had suffered three silent heart attacks. He was 43.
The news about Karl’s health was a shock to Ms Cummings. He had experienced chest pains but his doctors had not considered it to be serious. “He wasn’t obese, he wasn’t overweight. He was a fit man. He loved hiking and being outdoors. He thought he was a bit of a Bear Grylls personality,” she said, laughing.
Although she was alone for Valentine’s Day last Tuesday, Ms Cummings teamed up with MonashHeart for the launch of Love Your Heart day.
MonashHeart’s director Professor Ian Meredith implored people to be aware of the health of their heart. “Love Your Heart Day is a great opportunity to use Valentine’s Day to raise awareness of heart disease.
“In Australia, one person dies of a heart-related illness every 11 minutes. We need to do more to stop this killer that affects families and communities everywhere.”
Heart to heart: Ian Meredith and Sue Cummings are encouraging people to have a check for heart disease. Picture: Rob Carew.