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Interview 15

Age at interview: 60
Brief Outline: He had his stroke due to a clot aged 54 which caused right sided paralysis and muscle spasms. Medication' amlodopine, perindopril (blood pressure), ezetimibe (cholesterol), aspirin (antiplatelet).
Background: Is a married father of 2 adult children and retired charity worker. Ethnic background/nationality' White/English.

More about me...

This man had his stroke at the age of 54 he is now 60. The stroke was due to a clot in the left of his brain caused by high blood pressure. He feels that his high fat diet, being overweight, lack of exercise and stress all contributed to the stroke and has since changed his lifestyle. He also takes amlodopine, perindopril to reduce blood pressure, ezetimibe to reduce cholesterol and aspirin to prevent another clot. He urges other people to get their blood pressure checked because it often has no symptoms. 

His stroke initially caused paralysis in his right leg and arm and some spasms. In hospital he was moved from a general ward to a specialist stroke unit where he had intensive rehabilitation which he felt was excellent. He can now walk, although uses a stick for long distances. He can also use his right hand, although it is still weak. 

He feels that his internal motivation to remain independent was invaluable to his recovery. He worked hard at the things the therapists wanted him to do even if they sometimes seemed pointless. 

He attended a stroke club run through the hospital which he found very helpful. He hopes that he can put something back through supporting other people who have had a stroke. 

At the time of the stroke he was working for a charity that transports people with disabilities. He returned to work after the stroke and was even able to return to driving the mini buses after being given the all clear from the doctor. He recently noticed increased tiredness which he attributes to the stroke and decided to take early retirement at 60. 

 

In casualty his blood pressure was found to be very high so he was immediately given medication...

In casualty his blood pressure was found to be very high so he was immediately given medication...

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So I was then given a series of tests in the casualty Department by a very experienced doctor. Again, I was very lucky. The doctor told me that my blood pressure was 240 over 180 which is rather high and gave me a couple of magic pills to bring it down in a hurry and I was then taken to the medical ward and diagnosed of, as of having a stroke. 

 

He was temporarily put on a general ward before being moved to the specialist stroke unit. There...

He was temporarily put on a general ward before being moved to the specialist stroke unit. There...

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So you were initially in an acute medical ward, is that right?

I was, was initially admitted to the overnight ward, the, what would it be? The accident and emergency ward for overnight I was then taken into a, to a normal medical ward while there because the, as I say, I had the stroke on the Friday evening, so I was admitted on a Friday night, obviously on the Saturday and Sunday the normal medical staff were not working and therefore I was not admitted to the, to the specialist stroke unit till the following Monday. So for the Saturday, for most of the Saturday and the Sunday, I was in a normal medical ward and received virtually no treatment at all. 

How were you in yourself? Were you able to move about?

No, I wasn't. I was, my right side was virtually paralysed. I mean, I could move my right arm to a certain extent but, as I said, it had a mind of its own so therefore I was helped to be fed. I, there are televisions in our local hospital and therefore I had a television set pushed in front of my nose, so I was able to watch the cricket. There was a test match on at the time. I was able to watch the cricket and not, because I was able to watch the television, I wasn't, I didn't mope, or didn't worry too much. I mean, there's not much that one can do. You're in bed, you can't move, what's the point in panicking and worrying? You can't do anything about it.

 

He had been concentrating on trying to move his toe and suddenly got a twitch which he described...

He had been concentrating on trying to move his toe and suddenly got a twitch which he described...

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How were you in yourself? Were you able to move about? 

No, I wasn't. I was, my right side was virtually paralysed. I mean, I could move my right arm to a certain extent but, as I said, it had a mind of its own so therefore I was helped to be fed. I, there are televisions in our local hospital and therefore I had a television set pushed in front of my nose, so I was able to watch the cricket. There was a test match on at the time. I was able to watch the cricket and not, because I was able to watch the television, I wasn't, I didn't mope, or didn't worry too much. I mean, there's not much that one can do. You're in bed, you can't move, what's the point in panicking and worrying? You can't do anything about it. I remember although on the last day I was in the, the normal medical ward, I was concentrating on my toe, on big toe of my right leg and I managed to get a twitch out of my toe. I remember calling, shouting out to the nurse, saying, 'Nurse, please come here, have a look at my toe, is that moving or is it my imagination?' She said, 'You've moved your toe' I said 'Wonderful' and of course from moving a toe, once you've moved a toe, you can move your, a few, a few toes. And I think I was well on the way to being, to be well on the, the way to recovery when I got into the stroke unit. 

 

He was finding it harder to cope with the fatigue he has experienced since the stroke and has...

He was finding it harder to cope with the fatigue he has experienced since the stroke and has...

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I'm still supposed to walk a mile a day. I'm a bit naughty actually because I'm suffering at the moment from something called neurological fatigue which a lot of people when they've had strokes suffer from, which is extreme tiredness and it's very, very difficult. I suppose nobody really knows why it's caused, what's causing it. I suppose the brain has been working so hard to rewire itself and to get itself back to normal, that it's getting tired. I can only assume that.

I'm virtually back to normal apart from this terrible tiredness that I get nowadays . In fact, I've recently retired that's the reason I retired because I, I am suffering from neurological fatigue. I can't, I can't work a full day. I always was going to retire at 61. I retired 3 months earlier than I would have done. So I've taken early, early, early retirement.

 

He broke down in the hospital when he had to be hoisted onto the toilet but although he initially...

He broke down in the hospital when he had to be hoisted onto the toilet but although he initially...

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One thing you just touched on earlier was the, I suppose you'd mentioned about depression and perhaps feeling very emotional and crying at different stages. Would you mind talking a little about that?

No, one of the, one of the symptoms of stroke is emotional instability if I can put it that way and I remember I burst into tears the first time I, my, my son came into the ward. My youngest son, my eldest boy is in, in the Navy and he wasn't able to see me at all during the stroke, but yes, and, and I got very emotional a few times and when I was taken to the toilet the first time in this sort of cage, I mean, I burst into tears after that because I thought, 'Oh dear, what on earth, you know, what on earth, am I going to be like this for the rest of my life?' being carried to the loo like a, and I overcame that by, by will and I turned it into determination that I was going to get better. I wasn't going to let this thing beat me into the ground. But I'd say most people get emotionally, very emotional. It's probably something to do with hormones or the brain or something. 

 

He feels that he was an accident waiting to happen because of high blood pressure and cholesterol...

He feels that he was an accident waiting to happen because of high blood pressure and cholesterol...

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So the blood pressure, was that the cause of the stroke?

That was the cause of the stroke. High blood pressure, high cholesterol in fact I had to have a management check-up annually for my health, for my job. And I had the management check-up, found that my blood pressure was through the roof, I take, I took 1 tablet, I was given a series of tablets to take. I took 1 tablet and the day after I'd taken that tablet, I had a stroke. I won't blame it on the tablet obviously but and my blood pressure was too high, my cholesterol was too high, I was an accident waiting to happen. I mean my eating habits were terrible. I would come home from work, I would have a large lump of cheese when I came home, I'd have a bag of crisps, I'd then have my evening meal and I'd eat chocolates and biscuits during the evening.

 

His first few steps supported by a physiotherapist between parallel bars were wonderful. As he...

His first few steps supported by a physiotherapist between parallel bars were wonderful. As he...

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How was it, that first time when you actually stood up and walked?

Oh, wonderful. you know, you , it's a lovely feeling, not as good as, as moving my big toe. That was the, that was the main thing. I could actually move, get some move back standing up yes, standing up was good. I then had to just stand for about 5 minutes with somebody behind holding, all ready in case I fell and then the first steps. The first steps were done with parallel bars with somebody in front of me and the first walking up and down steps, they have, they have simulated steps in the gym, take them one at a time. First of all, you take one step, you put the good leg on the step first and then the bad leg goes on afterwards and then the good leg goes up one, the bad leg goes up one and so on. 

 

In the rehabilitation gym mobility was graded from 0 to 5. He found it encouraging to look back...

In the rehabilitation gym mobility was graded from 0 to 5. He found it encouraging to look back...

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Tell me about the physiotherapy. Presumably you had to get walking again?

Ah, yeah. There was a, there was a, there is a gym at the hospital. At the start because I couldn't move at all. They had a, I remember they have a series of numbers, zero for no movement at all and up to about 5 for relatively good moving. When I, when I first went to have my first physiotherapy, it was zero, zero all the way through and you were encouraged first of all to shuffle in and out, shuffle about in a chair, you're then, you, gradually more and more, you lay on, they put you on your back and you have to move your, your legs sideways, two legs together. You then have to move your feet and so on and gradually increase the movement according to how much mobility you had and again, this is a good way of doing it because you say, they say, 'Oh you had a, you had a zero last week, you've got a 1 this week, well done'. You know, and you, you're encouraged. You also, they also give you an aim, a goal. They say, 'Well, do you have a goal in mind? What do you want to be able to do in the next week? What do you want to be able to do in the next fortnight? What do you want to be able to do in the next month?' And you, you're encouraged to say, 'Well, I would like to be able to stand up in the next week' for example and if you can stand up, then it's rounds of applause all round, you know, and it's a very good method of making you, making sure you, forcing you to improve. Making you do this sort of thing. 

 

Felt that one of the good things about care was being able to ask questions.

Felt that one of the good things about care was being able to ask questions.

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I encourage, well, I'm moderately well educated and intelligent enough to ask questions of them. In fact, when I was in the, when I was in the stroke unit, one of the good thing was, things was that you are encouraged to ask questions and they are, they will give honest answers and in fact  I'd been in there for a few days and  my wife and I were, it was suggested that my wife and I should in fact spend some time with the consultant and ask him anything we wanted to know. I can't remember what all the questions were now, but we had an awful lot of them and as I say, it's 3 and a half years ago and I can't remember everything.

 

Feels that it is important to 'know thy enemy' so has sought lots of information about stroke,...

Feels that it is important to 'know thy enemy' so has sought lots of information about stroke,...

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How about looking up information? Have you looked up information about stroke at all?

Know thy enemy is the way I put it, yes I've looked up quite a lot of information about stroke, what caused it, what methods that they've got nowadays of easing the disabilities and so on. For example, there's a new device out now which is, it goes onto the hand and gives electronic messages to the brain from the fingers. So it will enable, enable the, the hand to actually grip even there is no conscious way of making it grip. Ahg I'm, I'm not putting this very well but I think you know what I mean by electronically making the, making the hand grip.

A stimulator?

Stimulates. Yes. It stimulates the nerve endings. 

That's interesting and I mean, how have you found the information that you've come across?

Very useful. Very useful. Again, know, know thy enemy. Out of a matter of interest really when I was in, when I was in, I was in hospital, I read extensively about stroke because I was fighting it. Now, it's just a matter of interest now. 

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