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Peg - Interview 21

Age at interview: 71
Brief Outline: Peg had some numbness which she thought at first was a migraine. After 3 days she went to the GP, who said it might be a TIA. She went to hospital for tests and was told it wasn't a TIA, but she is waiting for an MRI scan to investigate further.
Background: Peg is a retired benefits manager. She is married with no children. Her ethnic background is white British.

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Peg thought she was having a migraine when her nose, mouth, tongue and left arm went numb, because the symptoms were similar to bad migraines she had suffered in the past. This happened on a Monday. The next day she felt better so she didn’t worry about it much, but by Thursday lunchtime she felt worse again so she called her doctor’s surgery. The receptionist said she could not see her own doctor but there was an appointment with the duty doctor at about 4pm. When the doctor saw her, she immediately called an ambulance for Peg to go to hospital because she thought it might be a TIA. Peg says, ‘The doctor told me off for not going earlier’, and she feels perhaps the receptionist should have given her a more urgent appointment.
Peg’s husband was called and they went back home (just round the corner form the surgery) to wait for the ambulance, which arrived about three hours after the GP appointment, at 7pm.

At the hospital Peg had scans and a chest X-ray, and was admitted to the ward at about midnight. The next day she had scans of her blood vessels. By this time her symptoms were clearing up. The doctor came to see her and told her they had established that it wasn’t a TIA, but made an appointment for Peg to come back for an MRI scan and to see a neurologist. At the time of the interview Peg still didn’t know what caused the problem.

Peg thinks it is important that there should be greater awareness of the symptoms of TIA. She delayed seeking help because it seemed very similar to her previous experience of migraines, even though at that point she had not had a migraine for many years. (Once her high blood pressure had been diagnosed and treated the migraines seemed to clear up). The GP asked Peg if she had seen the TV advert about the FAST campaign to diagnose stroke (FAST = Face, Arm, Speech, Time). Peg had seen it, but did not relate it to her own symptoms.
 

 

Peg had never heard the term TIA before, all she knew about was the ‘dreaded word – stroke’.

Peg had never heard the term TIA before, all she knew about was the ‘dreaded word – stroke’.

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And actually did you know about TIA as a different thing from stroke?
 
No, I didn’t. No, I didn’t.
 
So did she explain that to you in the surgery or?
 
No.
 
Who told you about TIA?
 
[laughs] It was the doctor who came to see me who explained the difference between a stroke and a TIA.
 
In the hospital?
 
Yes, yes.
 
Right, right. So you’d never come across that term before?
 
No. I mean, all I’d heard about was the dreaded word stroke.
 
 

Peg was told that it probably wasn’t a TIA she had experienced but she is waiting for further...

Peg was told that it probably wasn’t a TIA she had experienced but she is waiting for further...

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And then I got into the hospital, and I was all wired up for scans and what have you. And then I went for an x-ray, a chest x-ray, and then I was admitted to a ward about twelve o’clock that night. And then the next day I had [tut] a head scan, and then the doctor came that afternoon and saw me, and I said, you know, what the symptoms were and I said they weren’t quite as bad as, you know, they had been the day before. And I said it was just like getting a migraine without the symptoms, the other symptoms, like the flashing lights and the bad headache. Because I expected, at that point, to have a whammy of a headache. Anyway, the scan was okay, apparently, my head scan, but then she sent me for a neck scan for the vascular veins and what have you, and that was okay. But I mean the attention I got was just wonderful, sort of thing. You know.
 
So they told you they thought it wasn’t, hadn’t been a TIA?
 
It hadn’t, it wasn’t a TIA, definitely not. But they were going to, I’ve got to go in for an MRI scan and to see a neurologist, which they’ve arranged both the appointments and I’ve got the appointment through for the MRI scan

 

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