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Vernon - Interview 10

Age at interview: 94
Age at diagnosis: 92
Brief Outline: Vernon first had a TIA 4 years ago. His wife called an ambulance when he collapsed. He had a second TIA a year ago and saw his GP, who sent him to hospital for further tests. Since then he has been fine.
Background: Vernon is married with 3 adult children. He is a retired estate secretary and livestock manager. Ethnic background/nationality' White British.

More about me...

Vernon first had a TIA 4 years ago, in 2006. He does not remember much about it. He and his wife were meant to be going out in the car and she found him in the garage unable to get the key into the car door, but he was able to speak to her. As she came up to him, he gradually collapsed onto the floor. She tried to get help from the neighbours but no-one was there, so she called an ambulance. They arrived very quickly and took him to hospital. Vernon began to recover before they even arrived at hospital and thinks he may even have walked into A&E when they got there. He spent about 10 days in hospital and had a pacemaker fitted. He was also prescribed several different types of medication, which he is still taking now. He has had no obvious lasting effects from the TIA, and does not have any side effects from the medication. He has noticed that his right hand is weaker and he can’t walk as far as he used to, but this may just be down to old age.

One of the more inconvenient things (especially living in a rural area) was being told he could not drive again for a year. Although his wife can drive so they were not completely stuck, she does not like to drive long distances, and anyway Vernon enjoys driving. After about nine months he went to his GP and asked if he was well enough to drive again. He had a medical assessment and the DVLA were happy for him to start again.

The pacemaker has been fine, though it did cause one problem when he was supposed to be having some urological surgery and the anaesthetist cancelled the operation because the pacemaker was not working. But when he went to have it checked it was working perfectly.

Then a year ago, in 2009, he had a second TIA. It was a hot summer’s day, and he was sitting in the garden. He got up to go in, and felt very dizzy and weak. He managed to stagger indoors and sit down, and felt all right again after about half an hour. This time the symptoms did not seem so major as the first time, so they called the GP rather than an ambulance. The GP who was on call arranged for Vernon’s own GP to visit him next day, and he recommended going back into hospital. He spent a few days there and was not allowed to drive for a few weeks. There was a bit of confusion when he left hospital, as he’d been told he could go home, so he got up and got dressed and said he was going to the nurse at the desk. She did not really seem to notice and later he got ‘a mild rebuke’ for walking out, which he didn’t think he had done.
He took part in a research project on TIA which involved very little and he was happy to do it if it can help other people.
 

 

Vernon was unable to fit his car keys in the lock, then soon afterwards collapsed.

Vernon was unable to fit his car keys in the lock, then soon afterwards collapsed.

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Well, I can’t remember anything about it, but what happened was we, my wife and I were going to visit a friend who does hairdressing, and I’d just washed my hair so that it would be reasonable, and I’d gone out, went out to the car, and first thing - well, I don’t remember anything about it. But I was, opened up the garage our end, and I was, according to my wife she’d been wondering where I was. Eventually, having shouted all round the house and the garden, couldn’t find me, thought, “Well, he must be in the garage.” So she came and looked for me and she found me, and I’d got the door key of the car in my hand, and I said, “I can’t find the keyhole. Can’t get the key in the hole.” And she thought, well, that something was wrong. And she obviously came up beside me, and as she came beside me I understand that I gradually collapsed down on to the floor. She then wondered what on earth to do, and rushed across the road to see if there was somebody in the house opposite, but there wasn’t. She then got on the phone for an ambulance,

 

 

Vernon felt he didn’t want or need to know too much information about the condition

Vernon felt he didn’t want or need to know too much information about the condition

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What about information about the actual condition, TIA? Do you feel you’ve been given enough to understand what happened to you?
 
No, I think is the answer to that. Not really. I just take life as it comes, I’m afraid. [laughs]
 
I mean some people are happy not to have more information. Does that apply to you, or would you have liked more?
 
No, I don’t think so.
 
No. So you, you’re happy just to...?
 
Soldier on, yes.
 
Know the limited sort of amount that they’ve given you and that’s enough?
 
Yes.
 
Do you feel you’ve got enough to help you decide whether you need to get help quickly in the future - to be able to tell if it’s the same thing happening?
 
[mm] Yes, I think common sense would, would tell me that.

 

 

Vernon says he takes life as it comes and wasn’t too worried by it

Vernon says he takes life as it comes and wasn’t too worried by it

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And how has it affected you now, looking back? Is it something that you’re constantly aware of at the back of your mind or?
 
No.
 
No. Did it cause you any kind of moments of fear at the time? Were you worried about what was going to happen?
 
No, I don’t think so [laughs].
 
[laughs] Are you someone who doesn’t worry particularly about your health anyway?
 
No, I’ve just taken it as it comes.

 

 

Vernon had home visits from the research nurse. He has his blood pressure monitored at the surgery

Vernon had home visits from the research nurse. He has his blood pressure monitored at the surgery

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The research project that you got involved in, can you remember when they approached you about that? Was that when you were in hospital the first time?
 
It was certainly after the first time. I think it was, you know, quite soon afterwards. I know a lady came, from the [hospital], I suppose.
 
And what did she do with you? Did you have a questionnaire to answer or?
 
Yes. She was only here a short time, and she came twice. She gave me a date for the second, the following year, I think, and that was all. She said she wouldn’t come again.
 
And so what was she doing? Blood pressure tests? Or did she take blood samples? What did she--?
 
She certainly took a blood test, pressure, blood pressure, I think. That’s about all. I can’t remember, I’m afraid.
 
So you haven’t had the, they have this thing that monitors blood pressure and then phones the results in automatically to the hospital by mobile phone?
 
No.
 
You didn’t have that?
 
No.
 
No. Have you had to take your own blood pressure and keep a note of the results?
 
No, I go every six months, I think it is, to the surgery and the nurse takes some blood tests, pressure.

 

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