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Interview 20

Age at interview: 68
Brief Outline: This woman had a stroke due to a clot from her heart at the age of 67 which caused mild visual loss and temporary speech problems. Medication' amplodopine, atenolol (blood pressure), simvastatin (cholesterol), warfarin, (anticoagulation).
Background: Is a married mother and has 2 adult children. She works as a temporary legal secretary. Ethnic background/nationality' White/English.

More about me...

This woman had her stroke at the age of 67 she was 68 at the time of the interview. She feels she had a relatively minor stroke. She initially thought she was having a migraine because she had experienced a pain above her eye, some visual disturbance and some minor problems speaking. When she went to the doctor she told her that it might be a stroke and asked her to attend the stroke clinic. The next morning she had a further event and was taken to hospital where she was unconscious for two days. She was able to leave hospital after 3 days and after a month felt that she was fully recovered and has suffered no long term impairments.

She had suffered a stroke due to a clot blocking the flow of blood to the brain. She had been a diabetic for many years and suffered from a condition known as atrial fibrillation, where the heart beats in an erratic fashion. It is likely that the stroke was caused by a clot that formed due to turbulent blood flow in the heart and was passed up to the brain. She now takes amplodopine and atenolol to control her blood pressure and drug called warfarin which thins her blood and prevents clotting. 

She was not able to drive for one year after the stroke because of the second stroke event. She is now back to driving and has continued to work as a temporary legal secretary.

 

Thought her problems with vision, speech and a drooped mouth were due to migraine or old age. But...

Thought her problems with vision, speech and a drooped mouth were due to migraine or old age. But...

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My stroke isn't an easy thing to actually describe because I don't know when it happened I thought I'd got a migraine and it must have been sometime in early January and I was working at a solicitor's office and I found that I'd got problems with my vision on the computer and looking at any papers or anything like that and I took Neurofen which usually gets rid of anything like that but it didn't and I went to the chemist and got migraine tablets and I must have been taking those for about 2 weeks and I gradually found that I was having problems with my speech. I would think of something that I wanted to say and I couldn't get the words out and if I did say something, I wasn't sure if I said the right thing and I still thought it was caused by migraine and which I hadn't actually had it before but the symptoms seemed to be fairly similar. Now, this went on until the 16th of January, which was a Sunday, and we were going up to my husband's son-in-law's 50th birthday, he was having a party and I went up there with my husband and I found people were asking me questions and I couldn't answer them and I just couldn't get the words out. So I sort of went and found myself a quiet corner out of everybody's way and my husband's daughter said, 'Are you alright?' and I said, 'I don't know. I've got this problem, you know, I can't get my words out, you know, I don't want to talk to people because I can't answer them properly' and she looked at me and said, 'You'd better do something about it' and I said, 'Yes', I said, 'Tomorrow when I go home, I'm going to go to the doctor, you know, it's gone far enough, you know, it's not getting any better and I've taken these migraine tablets which hasn't improved it, so tomorrow I'll make an appointment to go to the doctor'. Well, the party finished, we left quite early and I drove my husband home 70 miles down the motorway. 

The next morning I went into work as usual and I phoned and made an appointment for the doctor and I was prepared to see anyone who was available and got an appointment for half past 3 that day. So I left work about half past 2, went to the doctor's surgery, saw the doctor and explained about this migraine problem that I've got, I'm taking tablets and I couldn't get rid of it. So she did a few tests and she said, 'No', she said, 'It's not a migraine, you've had a stroke'. 

I had a problem with my vision and my speech and also I had, we've got a digital clock and for about 3 weeks, when I looked at it, the right hand figure was faded, it was peculiar and I thought it was all to do with this migraine that I thought I'd got and also my left eyelid was slightly dropped now I thought oh its with age, you know, one of those things that go with getting older but these were all apparently symptoms of a stroke and I hadn't picked it up, I hadn't realised.

 

Her stroke was caused by an unusual heart beat which formed a clot that went from the heart to...

Her stroke was caused by an unusual heart beat which formed a clot that went from the heart to...

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I've had, I had wonderful treatment, I had an appointment then to go back to the Stroke Clinic, the Outpatient Stroke Clinic on March the 3rd and they explained that they thought the stroke was the result of a blood clot, that I'd got , they thought it was caused by an unusual heart beat and this can cause clots to go from your heart to your brain and they suggested I went on warfarin, you know, you don't have to but, you know, the choice is yours but it would reduce by two thirds the chance of you having another stroke. So I thought I'd be mad not to.

 

She is on warfarin and knows she has to limit the amount of alcohol she drinks. She has had some...

She is on warfarin and knows she has to limit the amount of alcohol she drinks. She has had some...

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Can you tell me a bit more about the warfarin?

Well, yes. I mean, you know, it's just to stop the blood clots that can form in the heart when you get these irregular heart beats every now and again and it forms clots in your heart that go to your brain and they reckon if I took warfarin, it would virtually prevent that happening so that I wouldn't have another stroke. So I'm on warfarin. It will be forever unless they find something else I suppose. But again, I, people say, 'Well, you mustn't drink too much, you mustn't eat too much' but I don't drink very much anyhow. Very rarely drink in England. If I drink, I drink down in France, then only wine and certainly not to excess but I, I don't find that warfarin affects me in any way at all. I don't find that any of my medication affects me. I never have any side effects or feel peculiar with it or, you know, you read the leaflets sometimes and they say this medicine can do this to you or that to you and you think, 'Oh goodness, what am I taking?' but I've never had any side effects, so. 

Do you have any problems with bruising or anything like that?

Yes. If I cut myself it sort of bleeds, I think it was last, last summer we came back from France and someone at the airport ran over my foot with their trolley or their suitcase I forget what it was now and just sliced the end of my toe off there and it was terrible to stop it bleeding. It really was absolutely dreadful mess. And it just came up in the most huge scab and it didn't get any better because it still started oozing very pale pink liquid from underneath the scab. So in the end I had to go down to the doctor they had to take the scab off and wrap it all up and start again but it just makes things longer healing. I can find odd bruises on myself from time to time if I don't know how, I don't remember sort of hitting myself or anything like that and then we were down in France I did some gardening and I scratched all my arms up here, you know, how you do with, you know, cutting back plants and things and, and that looked far worse than it would have normally done without warfarin I think. But that's about all. I don't, I really can't complain because it's doing, doing a good job. 

 

Always reads the health pages in the daily newspapers but sometimes gets frustrated by apparently...

Always reads the health pages in the daily newspapers but sometimes gets frustrated by apparently...

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The trouble is when you start looking at things like that, you get contradictory stories. You look on one thing and it says something and you look at something else and it says something different. I'm a great reader of the Express and the Mail. I always look at their, their health thing and get all sorts of tips from that and that sometimes mentions stroke and things. But I don't, I don't generally, no because you start getting into the realms of what you don't want to know possibly. 

What's your view on getting health information?

Well, I avidly read, as I said, the Express and the Mail on Tuesdays when they both do a health thing and I sort of look through for bits that interest me and I've got a whole pile of pages that I've saved under there that are giving tips about various things. I don't look at them very often but occasionally I'll look back on something and, and say, 'Well, that would do me good or that would do me bad' but you know they have come out recently the fact that omega 3 you're wasting your time. What do you believe? You know, I always feel that I try and do the right thing I only eat omega 3 eggs and I like eggs and I feel if I've got eggs that's doing me good instead of doing me harm, then I might as well, I know it costs more and I'm probably an idiot but I just feel, yeah, just doing the right thing but you never know, do you? [Laughter].

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