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George - Interview 19

Age at interview: 77
Age at diagnosis: 71
Brief Outline: George had a TIA whilst sitting at home on the sofa; he suddenly found himself unable to speak and was paralysed down one side for a short while. He has since had another TIA in which he experienced similar symptoms. He worries that this may happen again and has lost confidence in himself through feeling depressed and stressed.
Background: George is married with one adult daughter. Ethnic background; White British.

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George had returned home after taking a short walk and was sitting on the sofa when he suddenly found himself unable to speak, and was paralysed down one side of his body for a short while. His wife called the emergency on call service, and later that evening a locum doctor came to see him and told him that he had had a TIA. By the following day he was able to speak again but had still not fully regained mobility on his left side. Some months later George had another TIA with similar symptoms. George feels that there is a link between the two TIA’s that he experienced, and the fact that he suffers from atrial fibulation, which increases the risk of stroke in itself. He had also felt uneasy about taking the medication he had been prescribed for this condition because he had read that one side effect could be ‘increased risk of stroke’. George takes a daily aspirin, but has avoided taking any other medication as he worries about their side effects. Since having the TIA’s George has read a news article that reported that men who have experienced impotence may also be at increased risk of stroke. This concerns him, as he has found that his GP had little or no knowledge of this possibility and he feels that if this is a risk factor for stroke that although it is a difficult subject to broach with patients, that doctors should be asking relevant questions.

Since his TIA George has experienced memory loss and has felt depressed. He worries that something similar may happen again and often avoids going out alone in case he should have another episode. Overall he feels that he has lost confidence in himself and his heightened sense of emotion can be difficult to cope with sometimes. One of the most difficult things George finds about having a TIA was the fact that the symptoms came on without any warning.
 

 

George sometimes feels depressed and has lost confidence in himself since his TIA

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George sometimes feels depressed and has lost confidence in himself since his TIA

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Now since then my memory is poor. I get very, very depressed. My confidence is gone. That’s one of the worst things. If for instance, how can I say? If I was going to drive more than eighty miles, I feel I don’t want to do it by myself just in case anything happened to me. And that should never be. I don’t like going for a walk without taking a mobile with me. It’s on your mind all the time because I had no warning of either of my strokes whatsoever. No pain or anything, it just, it just happened. And believe me that is absolutely scary, really, really scary.
 
I get very short tempered. I must admit with my wife, I do get very, very short tempered with her. It’s just frustrating, absolute, pure frustration. I then, at times I just can’t be bothered. I just can’t be bothered anymore and I shouldn’t be like that,. I’m only seventy seven. I can walk from here to [local town], no bother, no problems at all. I mean, I feel, extremely fit.

 

George was asked a series of questions to test his memory and how well he understood things, and...

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George was asked a series of questions to test his memory and how well he understood things, and...

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One of the tests that I had at the hospital was, I was taking seven from a hundred was the one of the first thing, first thing they made me do. And keep on going until they said stop. I had to write a sentence think of as many words as I could beginning with the letter in that particular case, was the letter F. Reproduce a drawing. And then during the interim, interview they, they mentioned three words to me, for instance pear, apple and chair, just for argument’s sake. And I had to repeat those. And then a bit later on they through an interview they said to me. “What were the three words I said to you?” And you had to try and remember what they were. I think I got two out of three right at that particular point. And, and that was more or less the extent of the tests they, they gave me, except as I say I had five MRI scans in the first six months and they kept an eye on me that way. And then at the Christmas the nurse came over here and she asked me exactly the same questions, everything was exactly the same and again in the summer exactly the same.

 

George said he couldn't speak or move and he found himself dribbling.

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George said he couldn't speak or move and he found himself dribbling.

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What actually happened when I had my stroke, I went for a short walk around the village. Got back here about quarter to six, sat on the settee, watched the Central News. There wasn’t any pain or anything, nothing whatsoever. My wife went to get the tea at half past six. I normally make a pot of tea at that time. And she called me to say the kettle was boiling. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move. I dribbled. I was just paralysed on the settee all down my left side with no warning or anything, it just came on.

 

 

George feels that the blood pressure medication that he had been prescribed may have caused him...

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George feels that the blood pressure medication that he had been prescribed may have caused him...

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I would like to mention atrial fibrillation which I was diagnosed with about 1994. Every time that I’ve been given tablets for blood pressure I just collapse. It , any sort of tablets I’ve been given, I either collapse and I feel that it’s because of my heart … the, the fibrillation that’s caused me not to take these tablets. And eventually my doctor decided the best tablet for me would be Lisinopril. I took these Lisinopril for just a few weeks. I said to the doctor at the time that on the patient’s information sheet it did say that one of the side effects is a possible stroke or heart attack. I mentioned this to her and she said don’t take any notice of that, it’s one in a million, it ,won’t affect you. But sure enough I had this stroke.
 
And then I think it was about … oh, I can’t quite say when it was now. I get a bit confused with the dates. But anyway I was, still having this atrial fibrillation problem. Every morning I always go for a walk for about three quarters of an hour to an hour. And I came back in home about quarter to seven, made my wife a cup of tea. Started to take it upstairs. Couldn’t get my breath. Pains in the chest. I rang the doctor’s at nine o’clock and I was seen straight away, the ECG confirmed it was atrial fibulation and I was sent from there by ambulance to the hospital. They kept me in for the day. And the doctor said there that she was going to put me on Lisinopril. I said, “You’re not.” And I told her why. She said, “I’ll put you on the 25 mg, the lowest I can give you.”
 
And within a week of having the Lisoinpril I drove from here to [local town] which is a distance of about a mile and half, but when I got out of my car. I couldn’t move my right arm. And by the time I’d walked to the bank, I couldn’t speak. I was completely - uuurr - that sort of business. And my wife drove me home. Saw the doctor straightaway. And again I was referred back to the to the hospital. And [that’s how my strokes have affected me.
 
The only medication I take now is a, is an aspirin every morning. Won’t take anything else. I have an aversion to tablets in any case, so that’s probably one of the reasons.

 

George was very happy with the treatment he received in hospital and felt that the nursing staff...

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George was very happy with the treatment he received in hospital and felt that the nursing staff...

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I really cannot fault it. It’s been absolutely marvellous. It really has been absolutely marvellous. No complaints at all.
 
So yes I can’t complain at all. They’ve been very, very, very, very good. The nurses have got a terrific sense of humour as well,. You can have a bit of a leg pull with them and it makes life so much easier. And they’ve been very, very thorough with me. I really can’t complain.

 

George's wife worried about him over- doing things and sometimes he felt she was nagging him...

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George's wife worried about him over- doing things and sometimes he felt she was nagging him...

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I think it’s scared her, probably more than it scared me I would think. And she’ll say, “Don’t do this you’re going to get a stroke. Don’t do that, you shouldn’t be lifting this, you should be doing that,” sort of thing. You know. Nags away at me about it all. But .. [laughs] with my best interest at heart.
 
And how does that make you feel? Do you, do you kind of feel comforted by the whole...
 
No. That’s when I get a bit irritable.
 
Right.
 
 “For heaven’s sake stop nagging me, I know what I’m doing.” But she means well. You know. And then she’ll start and then I start, and then ...we have words. It’s hard to say sorry. And that’s - will cause an argument.

 

George felt he lost his independence when he couldn't drive for a while 'It was awful, really. I...

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George felt he lost his independence when he couldn't drive for a while 'It was awful, really. I...

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What was the worst bit, thing about that?
 
About driving? Well, I’ve been driving, what -, 59 years? Well at the time of my TIA, 53 years and then all of a sudden you, you’re not allowed to drive anymore. And when she gave me the OK to drive I, she said, “Don’t go on the motorways, don’t go on the [dual carriageway], not for a few more weeks. And notify the DVLA.” Which I did. They were quite happy for me to carry on driving, no problems at all. So I’ve got a letter from them to, to confirm that so I feel quite happy about that.
 
And do you feel confident driving now?
 
Oh, absolutely, yes. Yes, no problems at all. I mean, just by just taking one aspirin I feel as confident, as happy as a, as a sandboy really. You know, for health-wise.
 
So at the time when you couldn’t do the driving, did it, was it partly the sort of, that loss of independence that you’d been so used to having, being able to just get …
 
Well, yes, I mean, just imagine it, all of a sudden you’re not allowed to drive.
 
You’re more dependent on other people to take you …
 
Absolutely, I mean, I had the hospital car service backwards and forwards to the hospital and the wife had to drive me if I went anywhere and So yes, it was awful really. I just can’t explain to you how bad it was.
 
I know it may sound a bit silly, because of having these strokes, rather than going on driving holiday, we’ve used coach holidays since and I think to myself, “Well, say that driver was to have one now, you, he may not get a warning.” And he’s belting up the motorway and you think, “So, there’s absolutely no warning whatsoever,” then you think about these people driving down the motorways at terrific speeds, it could happen.

 

George feels anxious about going out alone because he knows that a TIA can occur without any...

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George feels anxious about going out alone because he knows that a TIA can occur without any...

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My confidence is gone. That’s one of the worst things. If for instance, how can I say? If I was going to drive more than eighty miles, I feel I don’t want to do it by myself just in case anything happened to me. And that should never be. I don’t like going for a walk without taking a mobile with me. It’s on your mind all the time because I had no warning of either of my strokes whatsoever. No pain or anything, it just, it just happened. And believe me that is absolutely scary, really, really scary.

 

George's wife worried about him over doing things and sometimes he felt she was nagging him which...

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George's wife worried about him over doing things and sometimes he felt she was nagging him which...

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I think it’s scared her, probably more than it scared me I would think.
 
And she’ll say, “Don’t do this you’re going to get a stroke. Don’t do that, you shouldn’t be lifting this, you should be doing that,” sort of thing. You know. Nags away at me about it all. But .. [laughs] with my best interest at heart.
 
And how does that make you feel? Do you, do you kind of feel comforted by the whole...
 
No. That’s when I get a bit irritable.
 
Right.
 
 “For heaven’s sake stop nagging me, I know what I’m doing.” But she means well. You know. And then she’ll start and then I start, and then...we have words. It’s hard to say sorry. And that will cause an argument.

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