Michelle - Interview 65

Age at interview: 28
Age at diagnosis: 26

Brief outline: Michelle experienced her TIA at the age of 26. She experienced visual disturbance and was unable to speak coherently but after five or ten minutes the symptoms gradually subsided. She had several of these episodes over the following months which were not diagnosed specifically as TIA and then later went on to experience a full stroke.

Background: Michelle is single and lives with her parents. She is currently not working due to ill health. Ethnic background; White British

Audio & video


Michelle experienced her first TIA episode after having spent the day gardening ; she came inside the house to sit down and found she was unable to speak or articulate her thoughts and her vision was distorted. Although she did seek medical attention at the time, she was advised to see her GP in the next few days for a suspected viral infection and at that point TIA was not diagnosed or suspected.   When she later saw her GP she was told it could have been neuralgia or an anxiety attack. Over the next few weeks she intermittently felt sensations in her face similar to pins and needles but the likelihood of TIA was still not investigated by her doctor, who continued to treat her for anxiety. 
Five months after the first episode Michelle was feeling tired one morning and her mother noticed that she was dragging her leg and not walking properly. She began to feel confused and disorientated and her mother called emergency services. Although she was taken to hospital at that point, a stroke was not diagnosed and she was sent home and advised to return to the hospital the following day to see a consultant. After undergoing a CT scan Michelle was told that she had in fact had a stroke. Michelle found this news particularly shocking given that she was only 26. She was admitted to the stroke ward where she remained for approximately four weeks during which time her right side was particularly affected in terms of mobility. Although she was provided with physiotherapy, Michelle feels that she was not provided with enough information or support about stroke and the recovery process by the doctors caring for her. She felt that the health professionals she came into contact with were not used to dealing with someone her age in respect of stroke, and therefore they were badly equipped to provide her with the support she needed, particularly in relation to her emotional needs.
After she returned home from hospital Michelle felt anxious and emotional about what had happened to her, and fearful that she might experience a further episode or stroke. 
She routinely experienced a range of symptoms and feelings that she felt might indicate a further TIA but her GP continued to diagnose anxiety and depression as the cause, which made Michelle feel as though the doctors weren’t listening to her concerns. After discharge from hospital Michelle had physiotherapy and occupational therapy at home for some time to help with mobility but is not sure how helpful it was overall. 
Michelle feels that she was not provided with sufficient information about TIA and stroke, both in terms of cause and prevention by the health professionals taking care of her. However since that time she has made efforts to improve her health by stopping smoking, taking gentle exercise and eating a more healthy diet. She feels strongly that it is important for health workers to communicate effectively with their patients and to listen to their worries and concerns because having a TIA and stroke can feel very scary. 

Michelle continues to experience tiredness and has found it difficult to resume her normal daily activities. She has recently returned to work part time and in the meantime is thinking about starting up a support group for young stroke sufferers as she found that there were few opportunities to meet or talk to other people of her own age who had similar experiences.


For more of Michelle's interview see the Healthtalkonline website on TIA.


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