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Jennifer - Interview 26

Age at interview: 55
Age at diagnosis: 53
Brief Outline: Jennifer had a major stroke and a TIA at a time when she was caring for her terminally ill husband. She feels that stress played a major factor in precipitating her condition. She has overcome many of the physical symptoms she experienced, but finds it difficult to cope emotionally sometimes, particularly as she is now widowed and living alone. She had always associated strokes and TIA's with elderly people but now recognises that they can affect people of all ages.
Background: Jennifer is widowed and has two adult children. She has retired through ill health. Ethnic Background; White Scottish.

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 Jennifer had a stroke three years ago when her husband was terminally ill and she was experiencing a high level of stress. After several months of rehabilitation she had felt on the road to recovery, however several months later she experienced a TIA during which she lost consciousness, felt weakness in her arms and legs, and her speech was slurred. At the time she was visiting her daughter who called for an ambulance, and Jennifer was taken to hospital where it was confirmed that she had a TIA. Jennifer remembers feeling tired for some while after the event but has gradually recovered from the physical symptoms she experienced. However emotionally Jennifer finds life difficult sometimes now, especially since her husband died and she is now living alone. She sometimes worries about what would happen if she had another TIA and did not have a partner or relative nearby to help her, but on the whole feels it’s important not to dwell too much on such worries. Having said that, since her husband died she has found it more difficult to do that, and is taking anti- depressant medication to help her with this. 

 
Although she feels that stress played a major factor in precipitating her stroke and TIA, Jennifer acknowledges that she has also been advised to stop smoking and increase her exercise levels. However, despite some attempts she has found it difficult to do so, partly because she found the side effects of the medication she was given to help her stop smoking hard to cope with. She is now contemplating attending a smoking cessation clinic to help her as she realises that it’s an important step to keep herself healthy. She also finds it difficult to go walking or take exercise alone but because she is financially stretched she is unable to afford to attend a gym or fitness centre. 
 
Jennifer felt that the aftercare she was given after her stroke and TIA was inadequate and she still feels that her condition is not monitored as much as she would like it to be. She also feels that generally, stroke and TIA is thought of as something that happens to elderly people, and so was shocked and surprised to find herself experiencing these conditions in middle age. These feelings were heightened by her experience of being cared for in hospital for a brief time in a geriatric ward and she feels that often the services that are provided are aimed primarily at older people. 
 
Since her TIA Jennifer has been in touch with the Stroke Association and has become involved in helping with an advocacy project to support other stroke and TIA sufferers. 
 
 
 

Jennfier worries sometimes that if she had another episode that she would not be able to alert...

Jennfier worries sometimes that if she had another episode that she would not be able to alert...

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Because I’m on my own and I stay on my own but what if something happens and I’m not able to alert somebody?
 
Would, would, would I just die in here on my own? And that, that does worry you at, at time, times. But you’ve got to pick yourself up, up, dust yourself off and then, then just get on, on with it again, again. Because if you thought down that lines all the time, time you’d, you’d, you’d be terrified to move.

 

 

Jennifer found it difficult to give up smoking because she said she experienced bad side effects...

Jennifer found it difficult to give up smoking because she said she experienced bad side effects...

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They brought it up at the last, I’d just two months ago went for a stroke clinic down at my doctor’s surgery. Now that’s the first time I’ve been to the stroke clinic. And there they mentioned the smoking but, but they, they told me I’d be better to stop and I did try and but I had a bad reaction to Champix.
 
What?
 
Champix. It’s a, Champix is a tablet they can give you to help you stop smoking. But the side effects of the Champix have, they’re absolutely horrendous. I mean, you can, sleepiness. I it’s better than a sleeping tablet. You’re sleeping 24 hours a day practically. The nausea and really the side effects are horrendous. So I had to come back off, off them.
 
So I’m now due to go to smoking cessation clinic which that is because, because I’ve been, I’d attended a, it’s like a health “MOT” where they take you and they check your blood pressures, things like that. And, and give you advice on lifestyles. So I’m now, they, they’ve just started the smoking cessation clinic. That, that’s six months since I was at the health check. So I’m hoping to, to go to that in the next two to three weeks.

 

 

Jennifer found it too difficult to find information that she could fully understand on the internet.

Jennifer found it too difficult to find information that she could fully understand on the internet.

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I’ve started to look into it on the computer but it was, it was going into too much depth and thing, things like that and then I thought, “No, no get your mind off, off it. It’s happened, it’s happened.” Sort, sort of thing.

 
Right, so not to dwell on it too much?
 
Yeah.
 
So, I mean, do you think it can be quite difficult to find the kind of the right kind of information...
 
Yes.
 
...on the internet?
 
Very, very difficult.

 

 

Jennifer was admitted to hospital overnight and had a variety of tests and scans to check out...

Jennifer was admitted to hospital overnight and had a variety of tests and scans to check out...

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When they got me up to the ward I was really, really tired. Very tired and I fell asleep right away and the doctor actually came at five o’clock in the morning to, to check me in. And they just wanted, that, that was a Thursday night I got admitted. And they kept me in till the Monday so, so they could get the scans all done and just generally check, check out to see what is, what it had been.
 
Slight, slight loss of power, power in my hand and, and my arm. It wasn’t as strong, strong as it usually is. Slight weakness in my, my leg. But I reckon about by 24 hours to 48 hours I was back, back to what I was previous to, to taking the TIA.

 

 

Jennifer was admitted to a stroke unit where she had tests and scans and was then told that she...

Jennifer was admitted to a stroke unit where she had tests and scans and was then told that she...

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I was taken, taken into [hospital] into a, a stroke unit and was given all the tests. I had weakness in both my leg and in my hand and arm for 24 hours to 48 hours after taking ill. My speech was slightly slurred but there was no drooping of the mouth or anything like that. They, they gave me a scan and they also, they tested my veins and my arteries just to see if there was any clogging or anything like that. And they then diagnosed as best they could that I’d had a TIA.
 
They told me at that time that, that you can have a TIA but it cannot be diagnosed as definitely be, because there are no signs after you’ve had a TIA. And they told me it was a mini-stroke, a trans, transient ischemic attack. Which I knew anyway because I’m a trained nurse.

 

 

Jennifer is a trained nurse and was brought up to see consultants as like ‘gods’ who you didn’t...

Jennifer is a trained nurse and was brought up to see consultants as like ‘gods’ who you didn’t...

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I was brought up that, and when I trained, consultants were gods, and you didn’t question a consultant. And even though I was good at questioning consultants on my husband’s behalf I wasn’t very good at it myself.
 

Jennifer found it upsetting when she was admitted to a geriatric ward after her TIA and her...

Jennifer found it upsetting when she was admitted to a geriatric ward after her TIA and her...

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The health professionals should think would they like their mother, their father, their sister, their brother treated in this manner.
 
I don’t think so. You know. People at that time are very vulnerable. Very vulnerable. Would they like to be put into a ward they’re all geriatrics in their 80s and 90s? And are so ill they cannot even speak. When you’ve had a TIA? I don’t think so.
 
So you message is about thinking about how they would like to be treated themselves or their …
 
Yeah.
 
.. close family?
 
Yeah.
 
And then apply that to everybody.
 
Hmhm. Def, definitely.

 

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