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Adrian - Interview 22

Age at interview: 53
Age at diagnosis: 53
Brief Outline: Adrian had a TIA earlier this year one evening whilst he was sitting on the sofa. His partner recognised what was happening to him and called for an ambulance. He received medical assistance very soon after the event and was taken to hospital. His symptoms subsided quickly and he has no lasting effects. He is making changes to his lifestyle and hopes that he will be able to prevent the possibility of having a stroke in the future.
Background: He is divorced with grown up sons, and currently lives with his new partner and her daughter. Ethnic Background' White British.

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 Adrian was sitting at home one evening when his partner noticed he was struggling to communicate – she realised that he was experiencing something similar to a stroke because she had remembered seeing the TV advert about how to recognise the symptoms of a stroke (FAST – Face, Arms, Speech, Time). Adrian described feeling very strange - although he could make a noise, he had forgotten how to speak, felt disconnected from normality and unaware of what was happening to him. He also lost the feeling in his right arm intermittently during this time. His partner called for an ambulance very quickly and the paramedics arrived very soon after the event. Adrian recalls feeling very frightened and worried about being unable to communicate. However, by the time the paramedics arrived things were beginning to settle down. Gradually he regained his speech and his arm also began to feel normal once again. The paramedics did an ECG, gave him some oxygen and ran some tests before taking him to the hospital. By the time he arrived at the hospital he felt more or less back to normal and was able to speak again. 

 
Adrian had had a heart attack a few years previously and so was already taking a daily dose of aspirin, but this was increased immediately in order to reduce the likelihood of a further TIA. Adrian was then referred to the local TIA clinic where he had further tests and was given an explanation of the kinds of lifestyle factors that can precipitate a TIA. 
 
He found the TIA experience to be very much more frightening than having a heart attack, because it gave him in an insight into how it could feel to lose the ability to communicate with his loved ones. Adrian feels that if the loss of speech had become a permanent disability it would be something that he would find very difficult to come to terms with, and this gives him the impetus to keep himself healthy. The thing that worried both him and his partner the most was the potential effect that losing the ability to communicate would inevitably have on their relationship together, particularly because they have not been together for very long. 
 
The experience has profoundly influenced the way Adrian feels about his life now. Although it was frightening he feels that it has given him an opportunity to re-evaluate his own priorities in life and make some changes to try to ensure that he avoids the possibility of having a further TIA or full stroke in the future. Adrian now sees his TIA as a ‘wake- up call’, he wants to live a long and healthy life as far as he can, and feels he now has the tools and the knowledge to help him do that. He feels that there is a need for more public awareness of TIA because most people who he has spoken about it with have never heard of it. Adrian has fully recovered and has no lasting physical effects from the TIA. 
 
 

Adrian was sitting on the sofa and was suddenly unable to speak to his wife or tell her what was...

Adrian was sitting on the sofa and was suddenly unable to speak to his wife or tell her what was...

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I was unaware of having a stroke or that there was anything wrong with me until my partner knelt down in front of me and told me I was having a stroke. I didn’t feel ill. I felt no discomfort and no pain. Nothing. My partner was kneeling in front of me with the telephone in her hand, telling me that I was having a stroke. And... I tried to respond but … it didn’t work, and I wasn’t quite sure what I was trying to respond with, because I’d forgotten what speech was. I could make a noise. And I knew I wanted to do something. But I would liken to it to having your head put in a goldfish bowl. Because there was this, I was separated from her. And I was totally unable to communicate and she was trying to calm me down, as she spoke to the paramedic and as she was speaking to the paramedic it began, I began to make more of a noise and my speech returned but very slurred, and periodically I was losing my right arm. I was unable to move my right arm.
 
By the time the paramedics got here, I could hold, nearly hold a conversation with them. And after about 20 minutes when they took me out in the ambulance and they were asking me questions.
 
And it came like waves when I was in the ambulance. One minute I was there, and the next minute I wasn’t. And it was the same with my arm. I sat in the ambulance and I lost my arm completely, and it just wouldn’t function, and it was just like it was somebody else’s arm somehow. And then all of a sudden it was all back.
 
And by the time they put the ECG on and done all the blood tests and give me the oxygen, by the time we left to get to[hospital], I was three quarters of the way back, and feeling... odd rather than ill. I still felt like I had the goldfish bowl on my head, but by the time I got to the [hospital] I was fine.

 

 

Adrian’s partner recognised the symptoms of stroke from seeing the FAST TV advert and immediately...

Adrian’s partner recognised the symptoms of stroke from seeing the FAST TV advert and immediately...

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She recognised because the face, the FAST thing on the television, the advert on the TV and that’s the only way she would have known. And that’s the first thing she said to the paramedic. If she hadn’t seen that advert she wouldn’t have known what was going on, and then it clicked in her mind straight away. So that absolutely, that advert works absolutely perfectly.
 
And which bit of that was it that rang bells with her?
 
All of it. It was the, when my face dropped and my speech began, apparently I was starting to make funny noises. And she said that clicked in straight away and that’s why she reacted the way she did. And she was at, one minute slightly torn between leaving me and getting the telephone to get on to the ambulance, but, she’d remembered that advert, and it obviously works and its it does its job. It’s really good.
 
And I was going to ask you what was going through your mind during that period of time?
 
My fear was that I was going to be unable to communicate, that I’d lose the ability to be able to talk to my partner. That I’d be unable to work.
 
Losing my arm, not being able to move my limb was a horrific thought. And it was the lack of communication is the worst thing. Because... that’s a big part of your personality as well, your voice, and, your communication skills. And I was, it really did scare me. And the thought of not being able to talk to somebody that you love. It really, it really is quite horrific.
 
And you say over all the symptoms lasted for approximately how long?
 
Half an hour, twenty minutes. May be a little bit. But... possibly three quarters of an hour at the most. But by the time, certainly by the time you got to the [hospital] I felt like a fraud, because I was feeling perfectly fine.
 
Really?
 
And all the symptoms had disappeared. But they were very good at the [hospital] as well, I have to say.
 
Talk me through what happened when you went there?
 
Straight in A & E... a nurse came and done an assessment. Pushed on my arms and legs, took my blood tests, done all the usual things, blood pressure, temperature. And I sat there for a while my partner turned up, my eldest son turned up. And the doctor came in and done all the relevant checks again, and had a little chat about past history, about my heart condition. Basically, he said, “You’re fine.” And sent me off with a handful of tablets, these super aspirin tablets to make sure I didn’t get another blood clot. And... said that he’d book me in for the outpatients.

 

 

Adrian is fearful of having another more serious stroke and this motivates him to take more...

Adrian is fearful of having another more serious stroke and this motivates him to take more...

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I thought I was leading quite a healthy lifestyle before, but I’ve almost completely stopped drinking alcohol. I’ve actually joined the gym, which was a joke but I have and I’ve actually been as well. So I’m going to do everything I possibly can to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I’ve also lost lots and lots of weight as well.
 
So you’ve made quite a few lifestyle changes?
 
Well yes, and I didn’t think I really needed to. But my partner was insistent that we joined a gym and got fit, or fitter, and actually I quite enjoy it. So … we have made a fair few lifestyle changes.
 
Were those things that were suggested to you by the health professionals that you saw?
 
No these were things, that after… we came back from the [hospital]. We sat down and decided what we’d do. Because I was very frightened and I just want to lessen my chance. So the more I do… The alcohol thing, was just a case of you get into a habit of having a glass of wine when you get in from work or whatever, then you suddenly realise how much you drink in a week. So I stopped it completely.
 
Physically there are absolutely no symptoms. No symptoms at all. The only thing that is staying with me is the fear. But I suppose I’m using that to my advantage because that’s now my inspiration and, and my drive to go to the gym to lose weight, to eat healthily.

 

 

Adrian was very scared whilst he was having his TIA “I can’t emphasise how scary it was”.

Adrian was very scared whilst he was having his TIA “I can’t emphasise how scary it was”.

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It was the most scary thing ever. Its, and I’ve had a heart attack and that scared me, but nowhere near as much as this TIA did. Because I really did think that was it, that I was going to lose my voice, my arm, all sorts. And it really was frightening to think that I could be left that way. And nobody was more relieved than me when the symptoms subsided and I began to function again. Because it really is a scary place to be.
 
It really is odd, because you don’t feel ill. You expect to feel something, but I felt absolutely nothing. I had no idea it was happening. One minute I was there. The next minute I wasn’t. It’s really is, I can’t emphasize how scary it was.

 

Adrian knew the term TIA because his mother had had several, the doctor explained that the name...

Adrian knew the term TIA because his mother had had several, the doctor explained that the name...

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I had heard of a TIA, because my Mum had had lots of little, lots of TIAs. Some she got over and some she didn’t. He explained to me, that because of the name being transischemic [transient ischaemic] that it was there, then it disappears. I knew what a stroke was.

 

 

Adrian felt well supported by his GP and the staff at the TIA clinic who gave him all the...

Adrian felt well supported by his GP and the staff at the TIA clinic who gave him all the...

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I Have spoken to my GP and he’s absolutely brilliant. I’ve got a lot of confidence in my GP, and the hospital were… I thought the stroke clinic at the [hospital] were absolutely fantastic. And, they told me more than I had to ask, they answered nearly all my questions, and I thought they were really good.

 
And that was a session with the nurse there, was it, that was helpful in that respect or was it all the… did you see different personnel there?
 
The nurse and the doctor. They were both very good. But the nurse obviously spent a little more time, and she explained everything and I found that really helpful.

 

 

Adrian had lots of tests and scans and attended an outpatient appointment with the TIA nurse...

Adrian had lots of tests and scans and attended an outpatient appointment with the TIA nurse...

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And by the time they put the ECG on and done all the blood tests and give me the oxygen, by the time we left to get to the [hospital], I was three quarters of the way back, and feeling... odd rather than ill. I still felt like I had the goldfish bowl on my head, but by the time I got to the [hospital] I was fine.

 
They done all the tests, strength in the arms and the legs, and the speech, memory tests. And it all seemed to be fine.
 
I asked all the questions, where, what, how, why? They stopped me driving for a month, which was a real pain.
 
They answered all the questions, and when I went then, it was less than a week, before I had the first outpatients appointment.
 
And I met the TIA nurse and she went through everything. And explained the reason for the follow up, was that, just in case this is a precursor to something a lot worse. So I’ve had the brain scan, the neck scan, heart scan, everything. And it all seems to be fine. So there is no explanation. And there possibly never will be.

 

 

Adrian recovered completely from his TIA and feels that the fear he felt during the TIA itself...

Adrian recovered completely from his TIA and feels that the fear he felt during the TIA itself...

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It was the most scary thing ever. Its, and I’ve had a heart attack and that scared me, but nowhere near as much as this TIA did. Because I really did think that was it, that I was going to lose my voice, my arm, all sorts. And it really was frightening to think that I could be left that way. And nobody was more relieved than me when the symptoms subsided and I began to function again. Because it really is a scary place to be.
 
It really is odd, because you don’t feel ill. You expect to feel something, but I felt absolutely nothing. I had no idea it was happening. One minute I was there. The next minute I wasn’t. It’s really is, I can’t emphasise how scary it was.
 
Is there any, are there any lasting at all or anything that’s stayed with you from that?
 
Physically there are absolutely no symptoms. No symptoms at all. The only thing that is staying with me is the fear. But I suppose I’m using that to my advantage because that’s now my inspiration and, and my drive to go to the gym to lose weight, to eat healthily.

 

 

Adrian runs his own business and has a strong work ethic but after his TIA decided to slow down...

Adrian runs his own business and has a strong work ethic but after his TIA decided to slow down...

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I look at my business slightly differently.
 
How differently?
 
Because I think I worked, I lived to work, whereas now actually in fact I’m going to work to live. So if the business goes pop, it goes pop. I’m not going to worry. That’s not the be all and end all. And for some reason I don’t know whether it’s a generation thing, but I seem to be pre-conditioned to work and think I have to work. And I’ve been looking at it and thinking well actually I don’t. And so the first opportunity I get, I shall stop. Because just think, it sounds awful doesn’t it? But I just think it’s not worth, it’s just not worth it.

 

 

Adrian was very scared whilst he was having his TIA “I can’t emphasise how scary it was”.

Adrian was very scared whilst he was having his TIA “I can’t emphasise how scary it was”.

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It was the most scary thing ever. Its, and I’ve had a heart attack and that scared me, but nowhere near as much as this TIA did. Because I really did think that was it, that I was going to lose my voice, my arm, all sorts. And it really was frightening to think that I could be left that way. And nobody was more relieved than me when the symptoms subsided and I began to function again. Because it really is a scary place to be.
 
It really is odd, because you don’t feel ill. You expect to feel something, but I felt absolutely nothing. I had no idea it was happening. One minute I was there. The next minute I wasn’t. It’s really is, I can’t emphasize how scary it was.

 

 

Adrian’s partner recognised what was wrong with him through having seen the FAST campaign advert...

Adrian’s partner recognised what was wrong with him through having seen the FAST campaign advert...

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She recognised because the face, the FAST thing on the television, the advert on the TV and that’s the only way she would have known. And that’s the first thing she said to the paramedic. If she hadn’t seen that advert she wouldn’t have known what was going on, and then it clicked in her mind straight away. So that absolutely, that advert works absolutely perfectly.
 
And which bit of that was it that rang bells with her?
 
All of it. It was the, when my face dropped and my speech began, apparently I was starting to make funny noises. And she said that clicked in straight away and that’s why she reacted the way she did. And she was at, one minute slightly torn between leaving me and getting the telephone to get on to the ambulance, but, she’d remembered that advert, and it obviously works and its it does its job. It’s really good.
 

Adrian’s advice is to adopt a healthier lifestyle and make sure you do what you need to do...

Adrian’s advice is to adopt a healthier lifestyle and make sure you do what you need to do...

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Those people at risk I would take a long hard look at your lifestyle. Cut out cigarettes. More exercise. Eat healthily. Watch the alcohol intake. And those people who have already had the TIA - it would be the same actually. To try and prevent another one.

 
I’m not going to worry about it. I’m not, I don’t wake up every morning worrying that I might have another one, but it certainly has focused, I’m more focused now on what’s going to keep me alive and I’m more focused on the important things in life. It’s almost like a spiritual experience I suppose. It does awaken quite a lot.

 

 

Adrian’s wife recognised what was happening to him from the FAST campaign on the TV and she acted...

Adrian’s wife recognised what was happening to him from the FAST campaign on the TV and she acted...

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She recognised because the face, the FAST thing on the television, the advert on the TV and that’s the only way she would have known. And that’s the first thing she said to the paramedic. If she hadn’t seen that advert she wouldn’t have known what was going on, and then it clicked in her mind straight away. So that absolutely, that advert works absolutely perfectly.

And which bit of that was it that rang bells with her?

All of it. It was the, when my face dropped and my speech began, apparently I was starting to make funny noises. And she said that clicked in straight away and that’s why she reacted the way she did. And she was at, one minute slightly torn between leaving me and getting the telephone to get on to the ambulance, but, she’d remembered that advert, and it obviously works and its it does its job. It’s really good.

And I was going to ask you what was going through your mind during that period of time?

My fear was that I was going to be unable to communicate, that I’d lose the ability to be able to talk to my partner. That I’d be unable to work. Losing my arm, not being able to move my limb was a horrific thought.. And it was the lack of communication is the worst thing. Because... that’s a big part of your personality as well, your voice, and, and, your communication skills. And I was, it really did scare me. And the thought of not being able to talk to somebody that you love. It really is quite horrific.

It frightened my partner more than I realised. Because she was fine. It happened on the Saturday, so she was fine on the Saturday, and she was quite cool on the Sunday. But on the Monday night when we were laying in bed, just sort of dropping off she started to cry and it really hit home. And it really frightened her.

So a slightly delayed response then?

Yes. And I think it… because you run on adrenaline and the heat of the moment that did, it frightened her a lot.

And what were her concerns mainly?

She thought she was, we haven’t been together that long so she thought she was going to lose me. And also if I ceased to communicate parts of who I am disappears. Because of the other things that we do together, if I lose my voice, I lose a great chunk of what we are. So it was quite important to her.
 

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