Stroke

Interview 05

Female
Age at interview: 54

Brief outline: She had two strokes 3 months apart (aged 43) due to haemorrhages from arterial venous malformations. The second stroke caused right-sided paralysis and muscles spasm. Medication' baclofen (spasms), phenergan (anxiety), phenytoin (epilepsy due to a brain tumour age 41).

Background: Is a divorced career counsellor but is not working due to strokes. Ethnic background/nationality' White/English.

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This woman had her first stroke when age 43 and is now 54. She recovered from the first stroke but a few months later had a second. A test called an angiogram revealed that she had a condition known as arterial venous malformation (AVM), which was successfully treated with a procedure using stereotactic radiotherapy. 

Her strokes were due to bleeds from the AVMs in the left side of the brain. The second stroke paralysed her down the right hand side. She has spasm in her right leg, controlled with medication.

After the second stroke she had physiotherapy and regained total use of her hand and arm using her own technique of visualising playing the piano. She was in two different rehabilitation units where she regained enough recovery in her leg to walk with a limp.

After being in hospital for five months she returned home and lives independently. 

She developed epilepsy due to a benign brain tumour which was operated on 18 months before her stroke. This, too, was a genetic brain malformation. In the last 18 months her epilepsy has become more frequent and severe. This has resulted in the loss of a considerable amount of her long term memory - a controversial area in neurology - accepted by some neurologists, denied by others. This was described by Professor Duncan recently as equivalent to a boxer being knocked out constantly - i.e. has caused more brain damage. The loss of her long-term memory is more disabling than the physical after-affects of a stroke.

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