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Interview 24

Age at interview: 79
Brief Outline: She had her stroke during a hip operation at the age of 78. The stroke caused right partial paralysis and some pain in the leg. Medication' aspirin (antiplatelet) panadol (pain).
Background: Is a married mother with 2 adult children. She is a retired hospital ancillary worker. Ethnic background/nationality' White/Scottish.

More about me...

This woman had a stroke at the age of 78 she is now 79. Her stroke occurred during a hip replacement operation. Apart from arthritis in her hip she had previously been very healthy. The stroke mainly affected the right hand side of her body but she was told that the effects were bilateral. She now takes aspirin to prevent another clot forming.

Immediately after the stroke she was unable to walk and had some weakness in her left arm. Physiotherapy helped her get back to walking and she can now walk reasonably well with the aid of the stick. Her arm also recovered and although still weak she can write and do embroidery. She does, however, need some help with heavier household jobs.

Since leaving hospital she has set herself goals of walking with a friend in some local gardens. She has found this a great motivation and very rewarding. She felt very lucky to survive the stroke and tries to keep a positive outlook. Her friends and family have been a great support and she feels that she has no need to go to a stroke support group. 

She lives on an island of the coast of Scotland and going to the mainland is a long-term goal that she would like to achieve.

 

Her sister told her about a stroke that occurred during an operation. Later she was asked...

Her sister told her about a stroke that occurred during an operation. Later she was asked...

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Can you remember who told you after the operation that you'd had a stroke?

Who told me?

Mm hmm.

My sister mentioned it. She said to me and she told me and after she said it to me, I said to myself 'I'll have to let, let it sink in for a while', you know. I'm not going to say, and then after a wee while when I, you know, I gave it a thought and I just accepted it and she was expecting some reaction from me because I remember her saying, 'Oh, she's in denial, she's in denial' but I wasn't in denial at all. I just accepted it. Somehow or other I got the strength to accept it and that's the way I've been ever since. But my husband didn't say very much but he's not, he's well over 80 and he didn't understand very well and my sister and my son didn't want to tell him too much, you know, they didn't want to say to him. So he's still not really understanding it properly I don't think but they were, it was my sister that told me really and then there was some ladies came in afterwards and they were social workers or somebody, I don't know, and they were asking me the queerest questions, you know, about, first of all, they would ask me who, what's the prime minister's name, what's the Queen's name and things like this, you know, probably thinking, 'Is her mind alright?' sort of thing.

 

Was initially quite depressed and could not accept that the stroke had affected her physically...

Was initially quite depressed and could not accept that the stroke had affected her physically...

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It's so blank to me the beginning but I remember when one day I lifted my leg a wee bit and let the doctor see, 'Oh, that's marvellous' and I was saying, 'What's marvellous about that?' I couldn't understand it like I wasn't accepting the fact that I wasn't going to be better, you know but it was several weeks before the physio people came in and started working with me I suppose when I got stronger and they got me out of bed and they were trying to with the, there was the occupational therapists were in trying to make my arms, fingers move, my fingers wouldn't move or anything and they were, they had plasticine and that to help me and I remember one day, day, I said, 'I'm going to try doing a crossword puzzle' and I got, I got the pencil out and had the answer but I couldn't put the letters in the square box for the crossword puzzle and that really got me, you know, I was feeling quite depressed, 'Am I ever going to be able to do things like that again?' and I couldn't even aim it for the box where the letter should go but it gradually came back.

 

The antibiotics used to treat the infection caused by the catheter caused diarrhoea which was...

The antibiotics used to treat the infection caused by the catheter caused diarrhoea which was...

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Well, I had a catheter in all the time for, for quite a few weeks I had a catheter in and I had a very unfortunate experience because I wasn't there very long when I got a, an infection in my urine and they gave me antibiotics and the antibiotics caused me to have terrible diarrhoea. Oh, it was worse than the stroke, it was worse than the operation and then they changed the, the antibiotics to another one thinking that would do it but it only made it worse and I was like that for I think about 10 days and that really took, it took all the strength out of me. The result was the physiotherapy people couldn't get me started with physio or anything for a while because I was so weak. It weakened me. But that was really a bad complication afterwards. It really was. It was unforeseen too. 

 

Describes a simple test to see if she was able to swallow soon after her stroke whilst she was in...

Describes a simple test to see if she was able to swallow soon after her stroke whilst she was in...

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Did they have to test you to see whether you were swallowing OK?

Oh yes, yes, they did. 

Some people might wonder how that happened. How did they test you?

Well, they, they, they would give me a sip and would say, 'Now swallow it slowly and if there's any problem swallowing don't take' and I was just doing exactly what they were telling me and I was OK. 
 
 

Her stroke occurred after losing a lot of blood during a hip operation but she wonders if it may...

Her stroke occurred after losing a lot of blood during a hip operation but she wonders if it may...

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The stroke happened during the operation that you had but do you think there's, do you have any ideas about what the cause of your stroke was?

Well, I only go by what they were telling me and they told me that I lost an awful lot of blood during the operation, that I lost an enormous and that my blood pressure dropped right down and that they had to give me I think it was 3 bloods, 3 measures of blood and that same, now one thing I think about, some people say the stroke was going to be inevitable anyway whether, but if it was, I was in the right place when it happened because they were able to treat me at once. Whereas if I had a stroke like that without being in the hospital, I might not have come through but that's the million dollar question.

 

Worked with plasticine and Lego to improve hand function. Even though it was elementary she did...

Worked with plasticine and Lego to improve hand function. Even though it was elementary she did...

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You also mentioned that you'd seen an occupational therapist. Can you tell me about the things that you were doing with the occupational therapist?

Yes. He had plastic plasticine and I was working with that because the first time he came out my fingers were all curled up and I wasn't aware of my fingers being like that but then probably I was that ill and I just didn't know but gradually he, I managed to straighten them out and he was helping with these things and I think he had different kind of like children's toys it was more or less, you know [laughter] using that things, things like Lego, some things like that I think it was, you know, simple things but they did help that. Now, I graduated from that to the physiotherapy. 

Some people find that they get annoyed having to do perhaps silly things with children's toys. How did you find doing that?

Well, I realised it was helping me, so I didn't mind. I thought it was just elementary but it was helping me, so I had to start from scratch [laughter].
 
 

On her home visit they assessed her home to see what adaptations she needed and how she coped in...

On her home visit they assessed her home to see what adaptations she needed and how she coped in...

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Did they help you sort of think about preparing to go home at all?

Oh yes. Before they let me home, I had, they came up one day with the, the physiotherapist and the social, well no, was it the social worker and the occupational therapist, they came up with me and were in the house for one morning and I had to make a cup of tea and I had to do little simple tasks to prove that I could do it before they would let me home and to climb the stair because the back bedroom is up the stairs. I've got a toilet and shower down but the back bedroom is up the stairs and, and so they put, they had hand rails put on either side of the stair for me. They did that and they put hand rails in the shower which is very helpful. I couldn't manage to take a shower without them now but the stair now is no problem because I have this hand rail. I don't find it a problem at all. 

 

She found it helpful to sit and chat with stroke liaison nurse and had been provided with the...

She found it helpful to sit and chat with stroke liaison nurse and had been provided with the...

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The Stroke Liaison Nurse comes in and she sits with me and we have a chat and she, any questions and she tells me all about different things and that and she's very nice and friendly, she likes to come in. To be quite honest, I think I'll have to give her a phone because she's going to come in and see me about this new shower I'm supposed to be getting, which is very helpful too. And they were, it was them who came up to see me before I got the hand rails in the shower and the toilet. That's really a helpful thing too, and the stairs. I couldn't manage without them and they're helpful for my husband too. I, he's just needing it just as much as me [laughter]. 
 
 

Felt that she was shown great kindness in hospital and treated like a VIP.

Felt that she was shown great kindness in hospital and treated like a VIP.

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Day by day, I'm getting on and people are so good. I can't get over how good they are and the nurses in the hospital, every one of them, they were marvellous. I was feeling quite ashamed. I was saying, 'I'm never as kind as this to other people myself'. That's what I was feeling. Everybody was so good and my sister and my sister-in-law, they were all so nice. They couldn't do enough for me and I was saying, 'Oh, this is great' [laughter] 'I'm a VIP' [laughter]. They were spoiling me. I wasn't used to that treatment [laughter], they were. But I was, it was, I wouldn't say it was worth getting a stroke for but it really opened my eyes to see how kind people could be, you know, its true enough and here I am at this stage.

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