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Ken - Interview 40

Age at interview: 78
Age at diagnosis: 74
Brief Outline: Ken was travelling home from a holiday in Crete and felt unwell. Whilst sitting on the aircraft he felt some numbness in his leg and found it difficult to move his left arm up and down. He decided to complete the journey home and on his return contacted his son who was coming to collect him. His son felt that something was wrong as he noticed that his father's speech was slurred, and when his wife and daughter heard what had happened they contacted emergency services straight away. They were tol
Background: Ken is married and has three adult children. He is a retired Air Force Officer. Ethnic background; White British.

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Ken was travelling home from Crete when he began to feel unwell. He decided to continue his journey home as he did not like the idea of being taken unwell so far from home. When he boarded the plane he found that he after sitting down he could not move his right arm up and down easily, and felt numbness in his leg. He realised that these could be the symptoms of a mild stroke, but was reluctant to ask for help for fear of being told he may not fly home. As he wasn’t totally incapacitated he managed to sleep for most of the flight home. He also managed to reclaim his baggage and catch the bus back to his home town where his son was due to collect him. His son noticed that his speech was slurred when they spoke on the phone, and when he arrived home his wife and daughter were concerned and contacted the hospital who told them to administer aspirin and take him straight to hospital. He was admitted to the stroke unit where it was confirmed that he had experienced a TIA or minor stroke. Ken found that his symptoms had all but disappeared during the five days he stayed in hospital. He was advised to refrain from driving for six weeks but following that was given the all clear to drive again.

Ken attributes the onset of the stroke to having had a particularly stressful day travelling to the airport in Crete, although the doctors did not confirm that as being the cause. Ken believes that as one gets older these things are bound to happen and he makes a point of keeping a positive attitude and accepting things. He tries to live a healthy lifestyle and has lost some weight since he had his minor stroke, however he has not made any major adjustments since having the stroke and believes that the best thing to do is to keep going and get on with life.
 

 

Ken who had fully recovered by the time he returned home feels it’s important to keep going - “it...

Ken who had fully recovered by the time he returned home feels it’s important to keep going - “it...

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And who, so when you returned home was there somebody here to be with you or …?
 
Well, my wife was here.
 
Yeah.
 
Yeah.
 
But you didn’t, did, …
 
But she didn’t really need to do any sort of remedial treatment or anything like that at all.
 
Right. And so, I mean, how did it affect her? How did she feel about what happened to you? Do you know?
 
Well, it’s a question of, you know, accept it and get on with it. As simple as that. You know, it’s no good weeping and wailing about the whole business, you’ve got to, you know, you’ve got to do something.
 
So a quite positive attitude about it?
 
Oh yeah, you must do.
 
Yeah.
 
I mean, if, if you don’t then you go under very quickly. And, but I, a big advantage was, of course, is that the symptoms that I had virtually disappeared in the five days that I was in the ward in hospital.
 
And had you did you have any kind of worries or fears that maybe there would be some resid, you know, some residual …
 
No.
 
...symptoms. No?
 
No.
 
No? A quite positive person, aren’t you?
 
Well you, you know, well you’ve got to be. It’s no, as I say, you know, life isn’t fair, get on with it.

 

 

Ken didn’t want to be taken to hospital in another country so kept quiet about his symptoms.

Ken didn’t want to be taken to hospital in another country so kept quiet about his symptoms.

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The circumstances were that I was returning from a holiday in Crete. And it had been a horrendous day because we’d had tropical sands, rainstorms and I’d driven over 100 miles from where I was staying to the airport. And well, I was feeling rather sort of lethargic and whatnot during, before boarding the aircraft. When I boarded the aircraft I started to stow my luggage in the top. I found that after sitting down that I was having difficulty in raising my right hand, right arm. It wouldn’t come up any more higher than this. And also feeling numbness in the leg. And I suddenly realised that I was, I was probably suffering a mild stroke, this was sitting in the aircraft ready for takeoff. So being of the opinion I wasn’t going to stay in Crete with this happening, I …
 
I went to I stayed, and virtually slept all the way back, until we got back to Gatwick airport. And then having sort of, still feeling the effects of this because my speech was slurred. And but I did have movement in my arm and leg. And so having sort of struggled off there, collected luggage, I managed to make it to the public transport, bus from Gatwick that comes to [town]. I managed to successfully negotiate that. And it must be realised that this was the early hours of the morning, i.e. about one o’clock in the morning. I got on the bus, got back to [town name] and I’d previously arranged my son-in-law to pick me up in [town name] to take me home. And he was quite surprised actually when I phoned him up as he said when I met him in [town name] and he‘d come in his car, that in actual fact he wondered when I said to him that I suspected I’d had a minor stroke. And he said, well, yeah, what, he actually wondered because he was … the conversation he’d had, which I’d had with him over the mobile phone was such that he thought I was drunk there. So, anyway, I sorted that out. So he drove me home. And I said to him, “Don’t tell [daughter],”, that’s my, that’s his wife, my daughter. And of course, he did but there we are, I’d be surprised otherwise. So I got home, explained to the wife what had, more or less what had happened. Said I’d go and see the doctor in the morning.

 

 

Ken was told he had had a minor stroke and given a brief explanation of what that meant

Ken was told he had had a minor stroke and given a brief explanation of what that meant

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I started querying he said, when they started wondering, because then they mentioned sort of what I would say were two types i.e. the sort of blood clot or the, you know, bleeding in the brain. And he considered it, it was, it was a sort of temporary blood clot had got there and that I could expect that you know, certainly some, some of the symptoms would go away and I would, you know, improve.
 
As opposed to the bleeding in the brain when he was saying this is much more serious.

I found there that the, the you know, they didn’t, quite honestly they didn’t go into it too much. They just said, “You’ve had a minor stroke.” You know, “You’ve got the symptoms, you know what the symptoms are. We, you know, you can expect this or that or anything else and you’ve obviously had these you’ve had a minor stroke.” And that’s what he said, and that’s it.
 
And did, did that feel enough for you? Did that feel …?
 
Yeah.

 

 

Ken emphasises how important it is for health professionals to talk in simple language

Ken emphasises how important it is for health professionals to talk in simple language

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I found there that the, the you know, they didn’t, quite honestly they didn’t go into it too much. They just said, “You’ve had a minor stroke.” You know, “You’ve got the symptoms, you know what the symptoms are. We, you know, you can expect this or that or anything else and you’ve obviously had these You’ve had a minor stroke.” And that’s what he said, and that’s it.
 
And did, did that feel enough for you? Did that feel …?
 
Yeah.
 
I mean, the only, the only problem I have and I think that most that people have is when they start talking in sort of what you might say is medical-ese in so far as you don’t understand the language that they’re saying, because they come out with so many different initials and acronyms that you, you can’t understand, you have to ask exactly what they’re talking about. Which happens in all forms, all walks of life not just the medical there. You mean, you take it now as at, no matter what profession you go in they’ll start talking in initials and, and you have to ask them to explain what the initials mean.
 
So ideally from your point of view it would be better to get a more down to earth description?
 
R' It would be, it would be far, far better if you got away from this bureaucracy that believes in initials and go back to what word we used to call and what they tried to bring in many years ago called basic English. And then anybody will understand you.

 

 

Ken informed his insurance company about the TIA and stopped driving until his doctor said he...

Ken informed his insurance company about the TIA and stopped driving until his doctor said he...

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Well after I, when I had the stroke, when I came out of hospital there was a period there was there when you know, went and saw the GP and he said, “Six weeks.” You know, “Don’t drive for six weeks and then come back.” So I did and he had a quick chat with me and says, “Well, I can’t see, you know…” took my blood pressure and that and he said, “Well I don’t see any reason why not.” You see, some, and this is purely for the insurance purposes.
 
What do you mean by that? Insurance purposes?
 
Well if you, if, if you, according to my belief is that if you’d had a minor stroke and hadn’t told the insurance and when gaily driving had an accident you wouldn’t be covered. It’s as simple as that.
 
So do you think it’s for your protection as a driver or protecting other people?
 
It’s both.
 
Yeah.
 
I think, I think it’s for your protection in so far as that you’re not insured and it’s for the protection of the public as well, to keep you off until you’ve, you make sure you’re recovered.

 

 

Ken feels it’s important to stay positive, not to worry about things and try and live a normal...

Ken feels it’s important to stay positive, not to worry about things and try and live a normal...

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I think it does change the way you feel about yourself because you, you, you tend to be a little bit more wary of what you’re doing, physically. There.
 
So do you think it’s made you slow down a bit, or …
 
I think so, yes. Yeah.
 
And think about the, just alter the pace of your life a little bit really?
 
Yeah.
 
The only thing I can do, I can say, is, is how I feel about it and OK, you had a stroke, make the best of it and get on with the rest of your life.
 
Don’t let it hold you back?
 
That’s, absolutely not. Because if you worry about it too much then you’ll go down the drain.
 
So do you think that if you can keep yourself on an even keel that kind of aids your recovery in some way?
 
Absolutely. I mean, take help where you, when you need it, like from, you know, if people offer, like they do. I walk around with a walking stick people will offer, you know, if I drop something and pick it up. Well, accept it.
 
You know. And, or else if you don’t want to accept it, do it yourself. But, yeah, try and, you know, just live a, as normal a life as your body will let you.

 

 

Ken takes several drugs now and has a general idea about what they’re for

Ken takes several drugs now and has a general idea about what they’re for

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I think they, well I, I think, if I can remember correctly, obviously they were giving me some medication but I don’t know what, probably aspirin and, which is what I’ve been on ever since.
 
Hmhm. OK.
 
And possibly something else and that, but aspirin and also they started me on medication, I think it was from that time for cholesterol as well. And for, what was it, for heart. Valstatins… Is another fact, is another medic, another they give me.
 
And had you been on any of those kind of meds before or is that new for you?
 
No, that’s when they started.
 
And are you aware about, you know, what the aspirin is for and why you’re taking it?
 
Well it’s, it’s basically as far as I can believe is that it aids to the flow of the blood. And simple as that. Yeah.
 
And …
 
I mean, every time, any time I scratch myself now the blood pours out.
 
Does it?
 
Yes.
 
Of course, it’s thinner.
 
It’s much thinner, you see, and the, I mean, I scratched myself the other day, I didn’t even realise it, and next thing I knew, I looked down and I’m dripping blood on the floor.

 

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