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Russell - Interview 42

Age at interview: 77
Age at diagnosis: 76
Brief Outline: Russell had a stroke in 2006 and then more recently had two TIA episodes. He has been left with short term memory loss, some difficulties with speech, and weakness in his legs. He has a positive approach to his life and continues to keep active and fit.
Background: Russell is married and has two adult children. He is a retired insurance underwriter. Ethnic Background; White British.

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Russell had a stroke in 2006 which he feels may have been caused by stress, as at the time it happened he had moved into a house that needed a lot of renovations and he was doing a lot of the work himself. Following the stroke he was left with some mobility problems and short term memory loss. Although he recovered well from the stroke, more recently he experienced two TIA episodes during which he felt dizzy, his legs felt weak and he was unable to speak coherently. After the second TIA he was admitted to hospital where he stayed for five days, and again, although he has recovered well, he is left with some permanent disabilities including slurred speech, hearing and memory loss and weakness on one side of his body.

Russell takes a very positive outlook on life and despite the limitations that he faces has found new ways to keep himself fit and healthy - including swimming, walking and playing bowls. He has also become involved with the local branch of the Stroke Association and joins in activities with other stroke sufferers. He believes that the kind of health issues that he has experienced are inevitable as one gets older, but nonetheless feels it is important to make whatever adjustments to your life that you can to enable you to continue to lead a fulfilling life.
 

 

Russell was confused and felt that something was wrong. He had problems walking and stayed in...

Russell was confused and felt that something was wrong. He had problems walking and stayed in...

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Russell' I did have trouble in walking, I think …
 
RF' Yes.
 
Russell' … during the, I walked into the hospital, I didn’t need it then, but I think by the end of the day I couldn’t walk, I was confined to bed. But I think that only took a day, by the second day I could manage to get about …
 
RF' No, they have, he had physiotherapy.
 
Russell' Yes.
 
RF' And he was not discharged until he was able to walk up and down stairs.

 

 

Russell is an active member of his local stroke support group and as well as it helping him, he...

Russell is an active member of his local stroke support group and as well as it helping him, he...

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I am a great believer in stroke people getting together and, and helping each other and I am a member of the Stroke Association and we do find that we do benefit from these sorts of get togethers. But not only that, I feel that I can contribute to these gatherings.

 
And so, what kind, what is your involvement with the Stroke Association? How do, what do you do?
 
RM' Well we meet about, we meet twice a month. We have a lunch at various places within the area. And I’m now, what I do is I arrange a get, a bingo for instance, I’ve got that and I run bingo and I can still do it with my speech, it’s not that bad. And I’ve also created, and I created quite early on, I, when I came out of hospital way back I went for a short time, a daily, at the hospital in, in [local town] which I, is fantastic. I, it’s, and I built up a game then. I cut out a, personalities in the newspaper, stuck them on cardboard, and I’ve got that. And I, that is, I’ve got that, that to take to the Stroke Association, Association lunch. It would, it would help people talk to each other about the personalities of the photographs.
 
Oh, that’s interesting. So you’ve got quite involved, it sounds like?
 
Yes, I like to feel that I’m involved, yes.
 
And is that something that you’ve found easy right from the start, to get involved in that kind of thing?
 
Oh yes, yes. Yes, I found, there’s, straight away when I was discharged first for hospital I went to this cottage hospital on a daily basis and, fantastic.
 
Hmm. So …
 
And I can contribute. Which is makes me feel even better?
 
Right. Yeah. And do you feel that you’ve made, you know, that you’ve made new friends and new acquaintances through doing that?
 
Oh definitely, definitely. Yes. The, the, the Stroke Association definitely has great benefits for patients.
 
And so would you say the main one is getting together with other people and sharing that, those experiences?
 
I think so, yes.
 
I mean, it sounds like, …
 
Yes.
 
… I don’t know whether you actually share experiences or whether it’s more activities that you do together. Is it both?
 
I don’t, you might share experiences but not, not positively. There might, it might be a spin-off. With, like, I think that the general, there’s all sorts of people thrown together. All sorts of people have stroke, strokes. Then there’s the partners who come with the, the people and it is quite a, it is quite a community that we, we have.
 
I know, and what, what would your message be to other people, because I know that some people I’ve spoken to kind of resist the idea of mixing with other people who’ve had stroke?
 
Don’t, you don’t exist on your own. You must as, seek friends and communication and I would strongly, strongly suggest that you communicate with other, other sufferers, other people, other victims of strokes or what have you. That is, can be, can boost your confidence and you know you’re going down all going down the same road.
 
So it’s quite reassuring?
 
Yes.

 

 

Russell accepts that at some point in the future he may have to stop driving permanently

Russell accepts that at some point in the future he may have to stop driving permanently

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Diana' He was told he could have another within two weeks. Which was why he was told not to drive the car.
 
And obviously you didn’t drive the car?
 
Diana' No.
 
How did that, you know, impact, because you said you’d been unwell and then you’d had to sort of stop driving and lost that bit of independence presumably, how did that feel between those two episodes?
 
Russell' I don’t think that it was serious because I’d hyped myself up to it. I mean, it, it’s quite I quite expect that I shall be stopped driving permanently sometime in the future. I’m quite, it, it’s all right now I’m, I’m relatively fit and, and, and I’m alert and I can drive. But it, it would not be you, you, you build yourself up. It, it’s going to happen. I’m not going to drive, eventually I shall be stopped.
 
And so I, psychologically I accept that.

 

 

Russell has a list of his medication written on a neck tag in case he is taken ill suddenly

Russell has a list of his medication written on a neck tag in case he is taken ill suddenly

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I was on medication before because I had experienced heart troubles so I was, I was on medication but it was obviously boosted up when I went into hospital, hospital with, with the stroke. And that’s continued to this day.

 
So you know what medication?
 
I do know what medication is, I can give you a list a piece of paper with them all on.
 
Right.
 
But I can’t recite it.
 
Does it include aspirin?
 
Yes, it does. It does. And I had a, when I had the blip, the mini …
 
The mini-stroke.
 
Stroke, it, that it, dose of aspirin was, was increased, quite a lot.
 
Right, OK. So from the time you had the stroke you’ve been taking aspirin ever since …?
 
Yes.
 
And…
 
Yes.
 
…blood thinners and cholesterol tablets or something, statins?
 
Well, I can hand you the list.
 
OK, right.
 
And you can, you can interpret …
 
Yeah.
 
that, that in there.
 
So, and when you say that you can hand me the list, does that mean that you kind of know what you’re taking but it’s not really that clear in your mind, about the name ….?
 
Memory.
 
...just the names.
 
I the, well that you’re, it’s the Latin, I couldn’t recite.
 
Yes.
 
Recite it off but I certainly have got it prepared and also I’ve it around my neck. That’s contained in, in, in, in the, what, if I was taken ill out that wouldn’t be my medication.

 

 

Russell has had two TIA’s following his stroke and thinks that as he gets older he is likely to...

Russell has had two TIA’s following his stroke and thinks that as he gets older he is likely to...

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Russell' Since I’ve had the stroke I’ve had two episodes, haven’t I really? And I do accept that I am going to have more. And I do accept that I shall get worse and more disabled.
 
Do you see that as inevitable?
 
Russell' Yes.
 
And is that because of information you’ve been given by the GP or is it just your own personal feeling?
 
Russell' No. I have not been told that, I just think that that’s the only way, that’s the only way forward.
 
Diana' We’ve seen it happen to members of the stroke group that we meet. Twice a month.
 
And how does that affect you at all, the ….
 
Russell' No, I think I can fairly say that I accept it. And it’s up to me to just to keep going as, as long, as far, as, as I can.
 
So you have personal responsibility too?
 
Russell' I think, yes, that’s why …
 
.. medication as well….
 
Russell' Do you want to lift into town? No, I’m going to walk, I’m going to go on my bicycle. That is that, that is, I must keep going I think .
 
What would your messages be for other people, based on your experience? Maybe people who are at risk or those who’ve already had a TIA? What would you say to them?
 
Russell' I think you’ve got to be positive. You’ve got to grasp the nettle hard and, and go forward. You can go forward, you will go forward. Do what you can.
 
How about you Diana? Do you have any ideas about …?
 
Diana' About the future?
 
Well, no, about, you know, what you’d say to other carers and people who were, who are married to somebody like Russell?
 
Diana' Well I think it’s every situation’s different and you, you just have to work round. You have to be positive, it’s no good to just think you know, oh your world has come to an end. You just have to keep positive and keep moving.

 

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