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Brian - Interview 25

Age at interview: 85
Age at diagnosis: 84
Brief Outline: Brian was sitting at his desk completing some paperwork when he began to feel disorientated and was unable to write coherently. His secretary noticed something was wrong and called for help. He was taken to hospital where after a short while the symptoms disappeared. The duration of the TIA episode was relatively short and there have been no further repercussions since then.
Background: Brian is a world famous author whose novels and stories have been published all around the world, and he has been awarded an OBE for his writing. More recently he began a second career as an artist. He is widowed and has four adult children. Ethnic background; White British.

More about me...

Brian was sitting at his desk completing some paperwork when he found that he was unable to write things down in a coherent manner, his writing became jumbled up and wasn’t making sense. His secretary could see something wasn’t quite right and went and got help from a neighbour, who called an ambulance. Brian received medical assistance very soon after the onset of symptoms and was taken in to hospital where he was told that he had experienced a small TIA or minor stroke. Although he stayed in hospital overnight for observation, Brian returned home the next day by which time the symptoms had completely disappeared and he has felt no lasting effects from the TIA. He was already taking Warfarin for an existing medical condition, and although he could not recall all the details during his interview, he was later reminded that he was prescribed Ramopril and Simvestatin on being discharged from hospital. However he later stopped taking the Simvestatin as he experienced side effects which he found difficult to cope with.

Brian continues to lead an active life and feels that it’s important to take life as it comes rather than worrying about what might happen in the future. He continues to work as a highly acclaimed published author and artist and feels lucky that he suffered no lasting effects from his TIA and is still able to continue working. Brian feels that being unable to work would be a complete disaster for him as he thrives on the creativity that his career has allowed him to exercise.
 

 

Brian was filling out some paperwork when he suddenly found that he couldn’t write or think...

Brian was filling out some paperwork when he suddenly found that he couldn’t write or think...

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It was one morning in June this year, 2010, my secretary was here. I was trying to fill in a form but I was also dictating a letter to her and some, somehow the words [laughs] started to get really jumbled. I couldn’t think what I was doing, but I wasn’t aware there was anything wrong except that for some reason I was being stupid. And so I tried to go and fill in a form that I’d already started and I knew I was making mistakes. So I tried to correct them and this made it much worse. And so I ymm, ymm,. ymm but finally I said to her in perfectly conventional English, “Oh for God’s sake, [secretary] clear off home, I don’t want, I don’t want you to see me in this stupid state.” The darling girl going by, went, went past Alison’s house, Alison, next door but one and said, “There’s something the matter with Brian.”
 
Alison came round immediately and I was saying, “[meaningless words]” So she, she’s the brightest of ladies, present company accepted of course, she immediately phoned the hospital and they sent an ambulance around.
 
Now one of the delights of living here is that we’re not only near the cemetery whe... [laughs] we’re near the hospital too. And in tow minutes the paramedics were here with their ambulance. And they were so pleased with themselves that they’d got here in two minutes.
 
So they picked me up as I understand it. I don’t know that I actually recall this but I, I was told they picked me up, carried me into the ambulance and as they were strapping me down I said to the guy, “Oh Jesus, that was weird. Whatever was it. Oh, thank God I’m talking English again.” And, and it was over.

 

 

Brian recovered completely from his TIA and doesn’t think too much about it now – “I was over it...

Brian recovered completely from his TIA and doesn’t think too much about it now – “I was over it...

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So then Alison and I mean, she was with me in the ambulance. We then spent some time hanging around in fatal injuries or whatever they call the department. And were examined and there was a lot of sage nodding of heads etc etc and we were taken to a ward and the idea was that I should stay there for the night. And stay there for a night, for the night I did in a little ward with six people. And Alison also stayed with me. So kind. And we didn’t complain but we were in a ward with an ex-policeman who complained a great deal and another chap who chuntered a great deal. I mean, it’s very interesting. No-one pays to go to hospital but when you get in for free it’s very interesting.
 
And so, in the morning they said that we could go home and they gave us a nice breakfast and there was someone who I suppose will be called the matron or a ward sister and she came and thanked us for being so nice [laughs]. So there was after all an advantage of having someone there who was being nasty. So with that we came home.
 
And were we then careful? Oh, I suppose we were. But I mean I was over it and that was it. And one of those things that happen in life . And that was it.
 
I wonder how much it owes to the personality of the person suffering and perhaps I’m, I seem to be treating it rather frivolously. I think so, because it does seem to me it was an interesting event. Quite funny to be strapped into the ambulance and suddenly find you’re talking English again. So you don’t worry about it. There’s, there’s no good it’s something that happens. Think of all the things that have happened in your life. You know, I’ve been married twice, Christ that was much worse actually [laughs].

 

 

Brian was advised to cut down on alcohol which he feels is a sensible thing to do

Brian was advised to cut down on alcohol which he feels is a sensible thing to do

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Oh, they told, they told me to cut down on the drink.
 
Right.
 
[laughs] Well, of course, I mean, you know, what else can they say? Did they say anything else? Possibly taking regular exercise. So.
 
And are those things that you kind of take with a pinch of salt? It sounds like maybe…
 
No, I don’t.
 
No?
 
But they’re the sort of obvious things that it would be sensible to do. So I don’t drink as much although this weekend was an exception [laughs] No, and I take moderate exercise.

 

 

Brian feels it’s wrong to assume that a TIA or stroke is inevitable in older age

Brian feels it’s wrong to assume that a TIA or stroke is inevitable in older age

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I think they will have to get out of the way of thinking, “Well, he was 84,” you know, “You must expect these sorts of things.” I don’t think you should treat it that way. You should wonder exactly what caused it. I don’t know what caused it. But I don’t think it was my age.

 

 

Brian saw it as an interesting experience and is able to see some humour in what happened to him

Brian saw it as an interesting experience and is able to see some humour in what happened to him

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Well I haven’t forgotten the time but I don’t view it with any dread. And indeed in many respects I thought it was very funny. I did then and telling you now I can’t help laughing for, to think what gobbledygook I was talking. Now what on earth was it? Enter your name and address. Bluhh, bluhh, bluhhh, bluhhh. I apparently live at [participants address but jumbled up]. And then, and then I try and collect it and I’m at Old Adabrays, [address] I mean, I…
 
So it’s very jumbled?
 
I was crackers. Come on [laughs].
 
I wonder how much it owes to the personality of the person suffering and perhaps I’m, I seem to be treating it rather frivolously. I think so, because it does seem to me it was an interesting event. Quite funny to be strapped into the ambulance and suddenly find you’re talking English again. So you don’t worry about it. There’s, there’s no good it’s something that happens. Think of all the things that have happened in your life. You know, I’ve been married twice, Christ that was much worse actually

 

 

Brian recovered very quickly and felt almost back to normal when the paramedics took him into the...

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Brian recovered very quickly and felt almost back to normal when the paramedics took him into the...

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Now one of the delights of living here is that we’re not only near the cemetery whe... [laughs] we’re near the hospital too. And in tow minutes the paramedics were here with their ambulance. And they were so pleased with themselves that they’d got here in two minutes. So they picked me up as I understand it. I don’t know that I actually recall this but I, I was told they picked me up, carried me into the ambulance and as they were strapping me down I said to the guy, “Oh Jesus, that was weird. Whatever was it. Oh, thank God I’m talking English again.” And, and it was over.

 

Brian says health professionals shouldn’t assume that a stroke or TIA is an inevitable part of...

Brian says health professionals shouldn’t assume that a stroke or TIA is an inevitable part of...

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I think they will have to get out of the way of thinking, “Well, he was 84,” you know, “You must expect these sorts of things.” I don’t think you should treat it that way. You should wonder exactly what caused it. I don’t know what caused it. But I don’t think it was my age.

 

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