Stella & Deborah - Interview 55

Age at interview: 82
Age at diagnosis: 81

Brief outline: Stella had a stroke in 2009 and her left side was paralysed. She spent several months in hospital and now lives in a nursing home. Since the stroke she has had several TIAs, which often leave her feeling tired, but she does not remember much about them.

Background: Stella is a retired teacher, and she is widowed. Her daughter Deborah is a self-employed book-keeper. Ethnic background/nationality' White English.

Audio & video


Stella had a stroke in late 2009. She was found by her neighbours who called an ambulance. She was in intensive care for a while, and then moved into the acute stroke ward for a month, followed by time on a general ward, where her daughter Deborah feels the rehabilitation and care was not so intensive. Deborah herself spent the first two months with her mother in hospital on a daily basis, making sure her needs were responded to quickly. She feels one-to-one care is very important in helping someone recover. Unfortunately she had to return to work. When Stella moved to the general ward, she felt as if it was a signal there was no hope of recovering, and that staff felt there was little point in offering lots of physio, for example. Stella was moved to a community hospital, and the family were not happy that she was getting enough attention there. Stella feels more constructive care was needed. The family were particularly angry one day to find Stella – who always prefers to wear trousers - in an ill-fitting dress that she would never have chosen, because staff found it easier to take people to the toilet if they were wearing a skirt.
So Stella went to a nursing home where she and the family feel the quality of care is excellent. Deborah lives abroad and comes over every two months to spend time with her mother, and Stella’s friends still visit a lot. The only problem with care is having to wait sometimes for people to come when you press the call button. Despite the good care, nothing can make up for the losses that Stella has experienced because of the stroke. She can no longer garden, or dance, or ice skate, and she cannot read or play the piano any more. The staff are very kind, but having to be washed is difficult to accept, and things like getting her teeth brushed may get forgotten. Stella was always a very active and fit person who lived a full life with lots of socialising and a well-planned timetable. Now she has lost that control and choice.
Since the stroke, Stella has also had several TIAs. They last only a very few minutes, and she cannot really remember having them, but sometimes they do leave her feeling very tired and confused, especially the slightly longer ones. Deborah has seen her having a TIA while sitting in the garden – she noticed that her mother’s facial expression had become fixed. The nursing and care staff say sometimes she is just staring fixedly at them, and on one occasion when Deborah telephoned she could hear her mother ‘babbling’. The medical staff have changed her medication to try to avoid getting any more TIAs, though in fact Stella had one the day before she was interviewed, while she was having her hair done. Because Stella is not really aware that she is having one, she may well have had more TIAs while she is on her own that no-one notices.


For more of Stella and Deborah's interview see the Healthtalkonline website on TIA.


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