Stroke

Clare - Interview 56

Female
Age at interview: 50
Age at diagnosis: 46

Brief outline: Clare experienced a stroke while at home with her husband. She had blurred vision which she initially thought was a symptom of her diabetes. In addition to diabetes and stroke, Clare has had lifelong health issues including kidney problems, for which she is undergoing dialysis.

Background: Clare is a 50 year old retired catering manager. She experienced a stroke at age 46. Her ethnic background is White British.

Audio & video

 

Clare experienced a stroke while at home with her husband. She wondered if her initial symptoms of blurred vision was a symptom of low blood sugar (she has type 1 diabetes). She then developed pain in her eye, experienced nausea and was generally feeling ill. Her husband called a friend who is a nurse who thought that Clare was likely having a stroke and that he should call 999. It took the ambulance one hour to arrive due to poor weather conditions. When the ambulance arrived she “felt completely numb.” She remained in hospital for 3 weeks then discharged herself because she felt that she would recover better at home. She later went into a rehabilitation hospital, and again, discharged herself when she felt she was no longer making improvements. She rated the rehabilitation favourably but felt she had reached a plateau.
 
The stroke initially affected her speech, which she regained in time. When she first started talking again her words did not come out the right way. What she would say was not always what she meant to say or thought she said. When she regained her normal speech it was due in large part to her own efforts in practising with family members. She reflected on her mother’s experience with stroke and the frustration that she witnessed when her mother lost her speech, which fuelled her determination to recover. The stroke also left some lasting effects including numbness on her right side and face (she cannot see out of her right eye or hear out of her right ear) her ability to walk, and the use of her right hand and arm. Clare also has an artificial leg, which was not treated properly while she was in hospital. This led to the development of sores which prevented her from practising walking and regaining mobility. Clare remains quite optimistic and determined, but describes being unable to walk as the most frustrating part of her recovery.
 
Clare has a long history of health conditions. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and developed kidney problems at a very young age and she later had a transplant. After having her stroke her medication to prevent kidney rejection was not managed well and she now needs another kidney transplant. She is currently undergoing dialysis as she waits for a transplant. There was some discussion of whether she could have a double transplant of both kidney and pancreas, which would mean she would no longer need insulin for her diabetes and would reduce further complications from the diabetes. The waiting time for a double transplant is also shorter than for a kidney transplant alone (2 years rather than 4 years). However, an angiogram showed Clare has reversible ischaemia (reduced blood supply to the heart) which means a double transplant operation (which takes 10 hours) would be very risky for her.
 

Clare’s other health problems include osteoporosis and previous wrist fractures. Despite on-going health issues and treatment problems, Clare is determined to improve and avoid further stroke. She has become even more careful in managing her diabetes, specifically her blood sugar levels, since her stroke and urges other diabetics to do the same. 

 

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