Derrick had high blood pressure and kidney problems for most of his adult life. He gave up work aged 42 following a mild heart attack and blackouts. He had a major stroke 10 years ago. He also has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma and can no longer walk without oxygen.
Derrick spent 3 or 4 weeks in hospital for a major stroke, after which he felt there wasn’t any support from health services. However, he found some through the Stroke Association, who helped get adaptations put in his home. Recovery took time but he now feels he is getting better every year. As a result of the stroke, he lost 3/4 of the use of his legs and finds it difficult to control his emotions.
Four years after his heart attack Derrick had further trouble with his heart and was advised to have a quadruple bypass. However, he didn’t go ahead as he was advised that he might have a massive stroke on the table. Derrick has attended a cardiac rehabilitation course in a healthcare setting and on a Breathe Easy group course. He reports being on oxygen at night.
Derrick feels he gets most help with his kidney condition. He reports a difference in opinion between a cardiac team and GPs over whether to have an operation on his arteries. Another conflict between a hospital doctor and a GP arose about whether to stop certain tablets or not. I agreed 100% with my GP. Derrick feels that he can talk to his GP Like I’m talking to one of my own family.
He has changed his diet completely over the past 15 to 20 years following advice mainly from a dietician seen in a renal department. Doctors are sometimes unsure whether the shortness of breath he experiences is due to heart or lung problems. He is critical of a cardiac team who haven’t called him back for follow-ups as indicated.
Derrick can no longer walk uphill. He has to take an oxygen cylinder if he goes out walking. He bought a motorised scooter, but his GP advised him not to use it because he needs exercise. His main strategy in dealing with his health problems is to try to keep as active as possible:
Well, I just accept now that I’ve got these different conditions and you know, live my life around them and take one day at a time and as it comes.