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Interview 34

Age at interview: 55
Brief Outline: She had a stroke due to a dissection of the right carotid artery at the age of 55. The stroke caused left paralysis of her leg and arm and problems with eating and speaking. Medication' simvastatin (cholesterol), warfarin (anticlotting).
Background: Is a single mother with 2 adult children. She is a care assistant (but is not working because of stroke). Ethnic background/nationality' White/Scottish.

More about me...

This woman had her stroke at the age of 55. Her stroke was caused by a relatively rare condition known as a dissection (blockage due a flap of artery wall) of the right carotid artery which carries blood to the right side of the brain through the neck. She now takes warfarin to prevent clots forming and simvastatin to reduce cholesterol.

She was initially completely paralysed down the left hand side of her body and was found by daughters in a semiconscious state. The stroke also affected her speech and eating because of weakness in the muscles of the face and throat.

In hospital she had physiotherapy and was able to get walking again. She can now go out to the shops from her flat which involves going down a flight of stairs. Her arm is still weak and she has some pain in her shoulder because of increased tone in her muscles. She only left hospital a few months ago and is still having physiotherapy to help with her shoulder. She has also been give a sling to help support her arm. 

In the hospital she had some speech therapy and she also had some swallowing therapy to help her with eating.

She has not returned to work and thinks that it is unlikely she will be able to do her job as a care assistant as it involves helping elderly people in the same situation as her. She would, however, like to get back to work and is hoping that a local community scheme for people returning to work will help.

She would like to be independent again and sometimes finds it hard to convince her daughters that she is able to do things on her own, although she knows they are only trying to help. 

 

Her daughter found her on the floor she was unable to move or speak and remembers very little...

Her daughter found her on the floor she was unable to move or speak and remembers very little...

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You were telling me there about when your daughter found you?

When sh.., from what I've been told she found me on the floor and I couldn't move at all on the left hand side, I couldn't speak, nothing. She panicked and she phoned her sister and the two of them phoned the ambulance. The next thing I remember is I woke up in the hospital.

Can you, have you got any memory of?

I could, I can vaguely remember her shouting in the background panicking' Feeling helpless, you know. 

 

Describes how therapists helped her and gradually gave her thicker foods and drinks as her...

Describes how therapists helped her and gradually gave her thicker foods and drinks as her...

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Swallowing therapy. They'd get a wee bit of water and try to get you to drink it but told you to pull your chin in when you were doing it, you know like that. Because it helps for it to go down easier and it did. So that's the first think I can remember of it, but it was really, they were really good girls because I say I couldn't, I couldn't eat, I couldn't drink, couldn't do anything. Couldn't talk, they were really excellent. Must have been because I'm here sitting talking today, you know what I mean. So, your diet built up gradually. It started of it was quite watery, quite, like soups and things like that and then they started putting the Thick and Easy in and that thickens things up for you so you can maybe, like a mashed potato or, you know, a wee bit of something more solid and just built me up bit by bit until I was up at , number D where I could take soft mashable, what they class as soft mashable, foods. And I was having no bother at all with it, you know. But really, really good. 

 

Getting dressed particularly putting her bra on takes a long time but she feels it is important...

Getting dressed particularly putting her bra on takes a long time but she feels it is important...

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How about dressing, how do you manage with that?

Everything but the bra. The bra takes me twenty-five minutes to, you know, get it clipped. And, you know, you can get quite frustrated with it but, you know, but'

You've learnt the best way to do it?

[Laughs] Aye put it on back to front and clip it at the front but still it's taking some length of time but, it's quite frustrating but it's just part of life isn't it. I've tried other types, you know, that can pull over your head and that but I don't like them. So, I'm definitely not wearing a vest because I'm too young [Laughs]. That's, that's the thing, I feel, was the hardest thing of all. Not being able to, to fix because you do it in seconds normally but I mean it's taking us twenty-five minutes. 

And how about outing the clothes on? Do you put it on the'?

You've got to put it on the bad arm first, get it all up to the elbow and then pull up the rest of the material on. At the start I found it quite hard but now, as I've said the occupational therapist was really good. Patience, patience of a saint [laughs]. Showed me how to do it.

How about when you were first in the hospital? Did they maybe initially you couldn't do things, but how did you get back to doing things, what was important in helping you do that?

As I say the occu..., the thing that helped me most as I say was the occupational therapist that came round. Nice girl, she'd come and she'd sit and talk to you and say' 'Well, you know, you want to do this yourself don't you?' and I'd be like 'Yeah I want to do it myself,' and she would say' 'Well I'll show you a way.' And if she showed you one way and it didn't work she'd show you another way. Really, really good. 

Did you feel a bit like just giving up and letting other people do it?

Sometimes you do feel like that, you know but you can't afford to do that.

 

Worries about holding her young grandson because of loss of sensation but hopes that things will...

Worries about holding her young grandson because of loss of sensation but hopes that things will...

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My grandson, aye he's only five months and I feel I'm missing out with him. Because my other grandson I could lift him, change him, feed him, everything but with the wee one I can't. So I feel I'm missing out.

You were saying when you hold him it's...?

It's, well I don't feel safe because I can hold him in this hand for a wee while but as soon as he starts to wriggle I feel like I've, you know if he's going to fall, I can't support him and I feel like I'm missing out an awful lot with him, you know. God willing it will all come back a wee bit at a time. 

 

She lacked confidence when her GP tried to change her medication even though she had been told...

She lacked confidence when her GP tried to change her medication even though she had been told...

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Well my own GP when I went to see him straight after the stroke, he says to me 'We'll get you back onto aspirin,' and I says, 'I've not to go on aspirin because they tried me on Aspirin and it didn't work for me so that's why they put me on warfarin. So I've to stay on warfarin for the rest of my life,' but he was determined to put me back onto aspirin. So had to explain to him, you know, no the doctor in the hospital said this, this and this. And he was a wee bit kind of a, 'oh we'll see about that,' you know. So, but standing up for yourself is where you could have stood up for yourself no bother in the past, I think once you've had the stroke you've not got as much confidence. So you try your hardest to communicate with these people and tell them but they're talking you down, you know. But other than that, no I've not. I've not had any bad experiences. 

What I'd say if for anybody that's had a stroke, if they feel that their confidence is down a wee bit to take somebody with them when they go to their GP though. Because, it's good to have an advocate with you. You know, because I was getting a point over but I was getting upset at the time too and you know that that's the last thing that you need.

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