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Interview 13

Age at interview: 66
Brief Outline: He had a stroke due to a clot aged 66 which caused left weakness, pain/sensitivity and epilepsy. Medication' atenolol, perindopril (blood pressure), atorvastatin (cholesterol), aspirin (antiplatelet), Epilim (epilepsy), citalopram (anxiety).
Background: Is a widower living with a partner with 2 adult children. He is a retired management consultant. Ethnic background/nationality' White/English.

More about me...

This man had a stroke at the age of 66 he is now 68. The stroke was due to a clot blocking the flow of blood to the right hand side of his brain. It is possible that his stroke was due to high blood pressure which he had been treated for, for many years.

His partner first noticed he was having a stroke because he had some weakness in his face on the left hand side. He also felt some weakness, numbness and sensitivity on the left hand side of his body. He was always able to walk and talk after the stroke but had some rehabilitation in hospital to make sure he was okay on stairs and could carry out simple domestic tasks.

The main problems he has been left with are numbness and sensitivity on the left hand side of his body. He finds that cold sensations can sometimes feel quite painful. 

Since the stroke he has also developed seizures. He was surprised by this as he did not know that it was something that could happen after a stroke and feels that others should be warned about the possibility.

He has also had some problems with anxiety since the stroke partly because he feels the stroke has made him more likely to forget things. He has had some help from a psychologist who has helped with relaxation techniques. He also takes some medication to help control anxiety.

He has given up golf and painting since his stroke which he misses. He tries to keep positive and occupy his time with other things such as doing word puzzles. 

 

His partner realised he'd had a stroke because the left side of his face was drooping.

His partner realised he'd had a stroke because the left side of his face was drooping.

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Well, it was, I was lying in bed and my partner had gone down to make a cup of tea and when she came back up, she said, 'I think you've had a stroke'. She noticed that my left side of my face was drooping but I don't remember anything about it. There was no pain, no loss of consciousness, it was completely out of the blue to me. I didn't believe it and anyway she called for an ambulance and a helicopter arrived. We lived in a tiny village and having a helicopter come in at 9 o'clock on, on the morning and landing it at far end of the High Street [laughter] was really quite an event in a little place like this.

 

He finds dates and times difficult to remember and has learnt to write things down so he doesn't...

He finds dates and times difficult to remember and has learnt to write things down so he doesn't...

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I also, I get very easily confused which I didn't used to, confused about dates and times and I'll try and remember things and I'll write them down the wrong date or time in my diary. I do that a lot, a great deal. Not something I never used to do but now I seem to do it all the time. I have to keep checking up that I've done it properly. 

Are there any things that you find that are helpful to, you know, to help you remind yourself of dates?

Well I have so many appointments these days with various doctors and so on. At the beginning of the week, I think like Monday, I mean, this week for example, I've got, like Monday I've got the doctor, Tuesday I've got the dentist, an appointment I made a long time ago, Wednesday we're going out I'd got an acupuncturist and today I've got this interview. So that's this week and next week I'll have to go and study what I've got. I know I've got something on Tuesday of next week and I'll try and remember what else I've got, so I try and get the whole week in my head and then I won't fix up anything else that will clash with it. 

 

After his stroke he felt anxious about things like filling out forms and planning. He saw a...

After his stroke he felt anxious about things like filling out forms and planning. He saw a...

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Yeah. Again, my sister-in-law, the GP, when she saw me about a year ago, she made some suggestions as to what I could do and that was one of the things. I was beginning to feel a bit depressed and she suggested a cognitive behavioural therapist and I did go to that a few times but I didn't think it would help very much.

What sort of things were they doing at the, the therapist?

Oh, just basically talking to me like we are now, a bit like that. But since then, my GP has arranged for me to see a psychologist via the NHS, which is quite impressive because usually it takes ages to see these people and I've seen him a couple of times and he's given me some, well, he did some diagnostic tests first of all which I never got with the CBT specialist and he said it wasn't so much depression it was anxiety more than depression.

What sort of things do you feel anxious about?

Well, anything that's a bit sort of, that is going to require me to you know, to tackle something that I might not be up to, you know, even if I get several things in brown envelopes in the post in the morning, I think, 'Oh what on earth this, is this something that I have to cope with', you know, forms the tax inspector or anything like that, I sort of think 'Oh', you know, 'I am going to have trouble coping with this', although I don't actually seem to have it, I do actually have had forms from the tax inspector and I have managed to reply and write letters to people and that sort of thing, so I am managing to do it but it doesn't alter the fact that I do worry, I do sort of feel concerned about whether I'm going to be able to cope. Whereas before, I used to consider myself a great coper. Also, I was a great planner. I loved planning and I had a great sense of time. I always knew what the time was and how much time I'd got to do things and I worked things out so I didn't have to do anything in a, in a rush. And that's something I did a lot of and enjoyed. I can't do that. I don't do that any more.  

 

He would have liked to have been warned he was prone to having seizures so he was more prepared.

He would have liked to have been warned he was prone to having seizures so he was more prepared.

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One thing I wish I'd known but I think I mentioned this earlier. I wish I'd known I was prone to these seizures having had a stroke. As I say, my consultant said it is about 10-12% of the population have these, so, after a stroke, so it sounds as though it's uncommon. Had I been forewarned I don't know what I would done well, there is some danger there because when you have one, at the end of it, you can fall unconscious. So now when I have one, I make sure I'm sitting somewhere comfortably and safe. Only once did it happen to me and I did fall over. I didn't hurt myself badly but I suppose it could have been bad. 

 

Describes his first seizure, his medication and not being able to drive because of the seizures.

Describes his first seizure, his medication and not being able to drive because of the seizures.

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And then about 10 months ago now, one morning, lying in bed, I suddenly suffered from a seizure of like an epileptic fit. I spoke to my consultant later about that and he said, 'Well', he said he didn't think it was epileptic. These seizures are quite common amongst people who have had strokes. He said between 8 and 14% of people who have strokes suffer from them and I had this thing and it was very, very frightening and really, you just lose control of your body. It goes into this terrible jerking motion. Anyway I've had several minor recurrences of that even though I'm on some medication to deal with it. 

Do you know what medication you're on?

It's Epilim and I've had a couple of small instances since my doctor put me on and he keeps upping the dose each time so I'm on quite a big dose now. About 900 mg. And of course unfortunately, having had that epileptic type seizure, the DVLA, I was very anxious to get back on the road driving properly, so I had quite a lot of driving lessons. I went on to the driving assessment centre in [the local city] to let them have a look at me to see if I was safe to go out on the road. They did have some concerns about the way I was driving and then when' when the DVLA learnt I'd had this fit, they said, 'You're not to drive for 12 months' and every time I have another one of those fits, it gets extended. So I'm not driving in this remote place, that's a real handicap. 
 
 

Had to give up driving, tried an electric bicycle but felt unsafe. Has now got an electric...

Had to give up driving, tried an electric bicycle but felt unsafe. Has now got an electric...

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How do you get around instead?

Well, I'm encouraged to walk but this weather has been so cold and horrible I've had no inclination to do that and so I've recently invested in a little invalid scooter, electric scooter. I did in fact buy an electric powered bicycle thinking it would do me good first to give me some independence and give me some exercise which I badly needed. But when I bought it and got it home, I found I couldn't ride it because I was just unsafe. I was too, too wobbly, I thought I was going to fall off and, and my psychologist said, 'Well, it's not'' he just, he diagnosed that the problem with, that had affected the stroke had affected the various functions of the brain. I don't know what these different parts are, the planning thing and then there's another compartment and then there's the execution, instructions that the brain emits and it's that execution function that's been damaged, he diagnosed from my, giving me little tests when I first saw him. He said, 'That would explain why you couldn't ride a bicycle.' Mind you it's 50 years since I've ridden one so I did find it scary. I really hated the thought of having to go out and use it and I was quite convinced I would crash and fall off in some way. As well as the roads being bad round here and even though it's a quiet spot there is a lot of through traffic. So now, I've given up the idea of driving that so I've got a little motorised scooter, an invalid scooter which I hope will get me out. But I've only just bought it, so I've not tried it yet. 

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