My husband’s TIA and my TIA

In July last year my husband suffered a TIA. We went to Southend Hospital A&E and after examination by the Stroke Registrar, he was admitted to the Stroke Unit and monitored overnight. He then took part in a pilot to try out some drugs. He was also monitored further to see what had caused his stroke. It was later discovered that he had a heart murmur. All this time, he was looked after with the greatest of care and continues to do so during his visits to the Warfarin Clinic.

Ten days after my husband had the TIA, I experienced tingling in my left arm. At first I thought I had been lying on it, but when it happened again, we rang for the ambulance. I was taken to A & E. Nothing was found, but they referred me to the Stroke Clinic and I was given an appointment for the following week. I thought I had over-reacted, but they said not to worry. I had a Doppler scan and the consultant said I would not be going home. He showed me the X-Ray of my carotid artery and explained that I was in danger of having a full-blown stroke.

To cut a long story short, I was admitted to hospital, everyone was so kind and took time to explain what they wanted to do and what the operation would entail and what could happen. This happened several times and several people spoke to me about it. The surgical team visited me and explained everything that would happen.

I did have to spend a long time in hospital because the specialist anaesthetists were not available, but during all that time I was really well looked after and was never made to feel a nuisance and I never felt ignored and put in a corner. Every time someone came into the ward they spoke to me, even when they had come to see someone else.

I have to say that everyone on this ward treated me with the utmost care and respect and I think this Unit achieves the standard that any ward or unit would be pleased to attain.

Since then I have had treatment in the Endoscopy Unit and have also found them to be kind and caring.

Both my husband and I think we are lucky to live close to Southend Hospital and we are very grateful to have received such wonderful care.


Stopped in my tracks

It came out of the blue, one minute I was traveling as a passenger in one of my sons car with a clear view around me, the next my right arm went stiff, my hand felt like “a club” with the fingers curled up and everything went “hay wire”, my eyes went hazy, the world was “swishing by” trees, leaves, cars, you name it, all were passing by like arrows shot from a bow at the pace of a rocket. It was like a nightmare, the world had gone mad. At the time, I was awaiting a cornea graft in my left eye and the removal of cataracts from both eyes. At first I thought this condition was to blame, but why had my right arm gone stiff. The next event I remember was my son and wife deciding to go back home despite me saying I would be alright, as we were on our way to Stratford on Avon and had only just reached Loughborough.

We soon returned home. I got out of the car. I felt ‘as sick as a dog’ and I went in doors and laid on the bed, my head was going round in circles. My wife then phoned 999. The paramedics wired me up and took me to an NHS drop in centre, by this time I understood what was going on around me. I was examined by a doctor who diagnosed a mini stroke. He booked me into a clinic at the city hospital the following day.

The next day one of my sons took me and my wife to the hospital and after seeing a doctor I was admitted to hospital for further tests and assessments, which resulted in eight days in hospital to determine the extent of the problem which caused the stroke. My spell in hospital was a series of dizzy spells, hallucinations, tests and still more tests. In the course of the next few hours I found myself in bed and dozing when ceiling appeared to have writing on it in the form of tables some of which I could read. I woke up to be amazed as the tables appeared very cleat, was I seeing things, was there writing on the ceiling? The next thing I saw was sand floating down from the ceiling, then spray which I thought was water and tried to feel it. Then sand and soil on the floor on the floor some of which fell out of what few garments I had on. When my wife arrived I told her what I was seeing and she said there was nothing there. I was moved into another hospital ward where I thought I was in a boiler room it did not look or feel like a ward. It was a weird experience.

I saw models of people wrapped in cloth, who if touched would turn into soil and run out on to the floor. I tried to touch some but could not reach was I asleep or awake I will never know. The above continued whilst I was in hospital and as the days went by it continued together with pictures and an occasional mirage, I was floating through the air in some form of transport passing over a lake on which a pleasure boat was operating. It was all very real and I felt a new world had dawned. The pictures were all in colour mostly in locations on the wall like a frame or a hatch, service vent, heater, air circulation duct, lights on the ceiling, changes in the room decorations. All were in bold colours showing cricketers, landscapes, castles, buildings and people at events. The pictures, writing and the mirage would then disappear and the ward was back to normal. At times the beds and other furniture in the ward would change and so would people, it was like a night mare and they lasted all the time I was in the ward. Even when I came home similar things happened and one I will never forget is string and netting coming out of the television, usually from a person’s mouth. These continued over the weekend when back at home. But I cannot remember any more after the weekend.

Although the dizzy spells continued for the first few days in hospital they got less and less by the second day in hospital and I could get around, go for a walk, do exercises, ride and exercise bike, under supervision go for a walk outside and climb up stairs, go for meals (which did much for the reputation of NHS meals) without supervision.

I was in hospital for the eight days and cannot remember the number of scans and assessments, what I do remember were visits from my wife, my three sons and one of my grandsons, his mother and his other grandpa, my brother and his wife, my lifelong school friend and many of the friends we have made over the years. What I do remember was the difficulties I had getting into position for the scans due to my spondylitis. The efforts made by all staff was excellent and they managed to get into position so that the scans were successful. Only one scan was aborted and when the staff were made aware of my problem they got me sorted out. The persistent young doctor who persevered for me to have a scan I shall always be grateful.

The identification of a blockage in the left hand side carotid artery resulted in an appointment at the QMC at 1.00pm on the Tuesday following the bank holiday. In the later stages of Friday I was discharged from the City hospital and spent the bank holiday at home which turned out to be glories sunshine for most of the weekend. On the following Tuesday my wife and I were transported to the QMC by one of our helpful friends who dropped us at the QMC main entrance. On arrival we were interviewed by a consultant who explained my condition. The carotid artery was 80% blocked just prior to where the artery splits in two taking blood to the eyes and the remainder to the brain. She outlined what was required I said I was willing to go ahead and she went away to find out when a bed would be available. On return she said she would like me to be admitted immediately. I had a few more tests and then waited for a bed to be available. My wife stayed with me for most of the time.

The following day I lay in my bed thinking about the day ahead only to find I could have nothing to drink until after the operation. I knew food was a non starter but to miss out on a drink was a bad start to the day. One by one people came and told me what was to happen, in addition to nurses, the anaesthetist and the surgeon came and outlined what was going to happen to me and how the operation would be performed under local anaesthetic. They will open my neck, slit the artery open it and clean out the blockage. Blood will be kept circulating to the brain by the insertion of a tube having clamped the lower and upper artery to keep the area free from blood while the blockage is removed. On completion the artery will be repaired with dissolvable stitches and my skin repaired by the same procedure.

After marks were put on the left hand side of my neck I was told to get undressed and put on a gown, alas, having never worn one before I put on a dressing gown until told by a disgusted nurse I had put on the wrong garment, I then had to change to the type of gown requested. I was taken down on my bed at approximately 10.00am. On arrival I was parked up to wait for further instructions. A nurse then told me she would look after me, gave me further information and asked more questions. I was then asked to climb up some steps onto the operation trolley and waited to be taken I to the operating theatre. After about ten minutes I was taken in to theatre for the action to begin. As soon as I arrived in the theatre action began and my fears evaporated, I felt quite relaxed, the anaesthetist gave me a series of injections in my neck and told me what he was doing plus words of encouragement. If I started to feel pain I must say so and further anaesthetic would be administered.

I was lying on my lower back with my head turned to the right, a painful position for me due to my spondylosis in my neck (since the operation I have not had the same type of pain). The operating team then prepared me for the operation. Throughout the procedure I knew what was happening, especially when the blockage was being removed, clamps removed, stitches inserted, and the skin on my neck being repaired. In fact I thought I overheard adhesive being used. During the procedure I think it hurt on only two occasions. It was a funny experience, nothing like I have ever known before but believe it or not I enjoyed the experience. Afterwards I was taken out of the theatre I was transferred to my bed and taken to a ward where other patients were recovering and being monitored. Here I stayed for just over an hour and I started to feel dizzy. I was taken back to the ward when my blood pressure had dropped and on arrival I was overjoyed to see my wife. The operation had taken two hours plus a further period for recuperation. I was famished and ready for a meal at supper time. After eating I tried to get some sleep but further monitoring, and taking tablets soon put paid to that.

The night that followed was one of the worst I had ever had. I had to sleep on my right hand side with my head turned to the right throughout the night (the opposite I normally sleep). I hardly slept all night, what with the problem of getting comfortable, people talking, yelling out etc. By morning I had hardly had a “wink of sleep”. By the time the doctors came round I felt a lot better and was told the operation had gone well and I could go home. The next six hours were a dream during which time I was sick and vomited my breakfast just as I felt at he lowest my wife arrived and I was transported home by our friend. On arrival I went to bed and slept for the next four hours, I was awakened for something to eat about 6.00pm. The night that followed was a joy sleeping throughout the night, except to take some pain killers in the early hours of the next day.

In the days that followed, I very much appreciated visits from the district nurse, and two members of the county community stroke team. The first was from a speech therapist and the second a physic. The service of all the external support staff was very welcomed and demonstrated the extent of support provided. I soon got back to my exercises and started to feel much better. However, my eyes are worse than before I had the stroke and I had to return to an old pair of glasses from four years ago. I find it difficult to read numbers, names etc and when walking I soon feel dizzy. Hopefully, when I have the operations on my eyes the situation will change as the stroke and the operation has obviously had an effect on my vision. If you are unlucky enough to have a stroke, do as you are told and put your faith in the NHS.

Having had this latest experience of the NHS I must express my appreciation for the service I received when I had a recent stroke. From the paramedics, nurses, doctors, consultants and all auxiliary staff to being released from hospital and when at home the service was of the highest order. The advert on strokes on the television is a great aid to all who need urgent attention. I hope this short article will be of reassurance to anyone who suffers a stroke.


Help at a worrying time

Having had two frightening episodes of vision loss on holiday in Spain, I was keen to know exactly what had been going on.

Went to Eye Casualty and had great treatment from Consutant there. Referred to TIA clinic and forms for blood tests.

Before getting to TIA clinic 5 days later, vision went again and I was advised by GP to go to A&E.The consultant was fantastic, very reassuring and I had a CT scan that night.

TIA clinic with the doctor was also excellent, carotid dopplers done that morning.

I can’t recommend the hospital enough. My sincere thanks to all I have seen.

Christine Bull

Trelisk Hospital, Truro, Cornwall. Carnkie ward.

I spent three weeks in this Hospital, three weeks I never want to repeat. Firstly I was sent to an admission ward after some haematemesis and persistant vomiting.

The care there was ok. Then I was transferred to Carn Kie ward 48 hrs later. This ward was very noisy, mainly the staff making the noise. Late for lights out, and early rising.!

None of the doctors knew what was the matter with me. I was seen by surgeons who thought my existing hiatus hernia was the cause. It was not. I was sent to a surgical ward “Poldark”. There it was much quieter, and there were more staff. I was well treated on there. However I was transferred back to Carn Kie ward after two weeks of persistant vomiting. It was dreadful, again very noisy and not enough trained staff. I was given the wrong medication on three occasions. Fortunately I am a retired nurse so know what is right and what is wrong.

My first weekend on CarnKie ward I was introduced to a strange doctor, who told me outright with a very loud voice, that I had had a mini-stroke and had developed Cerebro Vascular disease. This was not explained to me at all. However it shocked me enough to start the vomiting off again. I had to wait for ages for my medication for the vomiting, as the nurse was reluctant to give it to me, and there was only one nurse on the ward who could give it to me.

I immediately told my partner what the doctor had said. She was very shocked, but looked it up, and realised that I had had the symtoms of a stroke whilst at home. The vomiting was caused by it, and the swollen hand I had had for two days before the vomiting started.

The doctors on the Monday morning did not mention the stroke at all. It was as if they weren’t interested in that, just my hernia..

My partner decided to come early one morning to see my doctor (“4th one”).!! Eventually they came round and talked to me as if nothing had happened. Karen (my partner) asked them what about the stroke? She asked them if I had had a scan of my carotid arteries. I had not, so they signed me up for one immediately. That was clear.

After three weeks and one day in there I was discharged, having only just got back on to normal meals. I was dicharged on the understanding that it might have been a virus that had made me vomit. I know it wasn’t it was the stroke.

There were not enough qualified staff on the ward at all. On a weekend there was one staff nurse who could attend to drips and the machines they ran through. Thirty beds on this ward, all full.


Excellent service

I had an ENT appointment at Outpatients on Wednesday Sept 12th at 3.30 pm. Please accept my congratulations on the efficiency in the way the whole process was handled; the kindness and politeness of the staff and the lack of having to wait. In fact, I arrived early, was seen within minutes and left before the time of my appointment


This was such a different experience to that of my husband’s when he had carotid artery surgery last year, that I felt I must email and let you know.

Thank you

Marion Chapman

Marion Chapman

I am 76 years of age and was admitted …

I am 76 years of age and was admitted on the 12th October 2009 having had several minor strokes and as a result of the examination by the staff of the Clinical Decision Unit was transferred to the Acute Stroke Ward.

The individual attention given by the ward sister and her nursing to myself and my wife during this stressful time was of high order.

Having been told that it would be necessary to undergo emergency carotid endarterectomy surgery the highly professional way the staff concerned were able to clearly explain to us what the procedure was and the possible problems that could arise with this operation were in such a way as not cause us any further stress.

On the morning of the operation the way that the ward sister and her staff gave words of comfort (and cuddle) to me was most appreciated.

After the skilful surgery carried out by the consultant and his medical team I was taken into the care of the sister and nursing staff in Hunter Ward who continued with the same kindness during my short stay with them.

Having attended the consultant’s outpatients department on 10th December 2009 all was well with the healing and having checked that my prescription was correct were able to discharge me with a caution to be aware of any further numbness, with quick return to the Hospital.

The population of Reading and surrounding area should be proud and grateful to have the services of The Royal Berkshire Hospital with such dedicated staff to care for all their medical problems.

Thanks to all concerned.

What could be improved

I could not find any problems

Harry Hammond

The Stroke Unit

In April I went to the minor injuries unit with loss of vision in my right eye and numbness of the face and was sent to the stroke unit. I told the doctors that previously I had thickening of the arteries and was given an MRI scan, told it was clear and was able to go home. I asked what had caused the loss of vision (which lasted for over 6 hours) and when the consultant checked he said I had glaucoma and I needed to go to Stoke Mandeville to see the eye specialist. Saw the eye specialist at Stoke, she said I did not have glaucoma, I had had a TIA and told me she would book an appointment for me at the stroke clinic and with the eye specialist at Wycombe. I was not happy with the outcome and went privately to see a specialist who immediately did a doppler scan, which showed that my right carotid artery was 80% blocked and my left one was 45% blocked. I was then referred to a vascular surgeon who operated three days later to unblock the carotid artery. I am still waiting for my appointment to arrive from the stroke clinic!!!


Neurology dept

My husband was referred to Charing Cross stroke team following having had a T.I.A (mini stroke). The service we received from the consultant and his team can only be described as outstanding. Following review we left feeling reassured, well informed and confident with his management plan. Following his review he was also given a contact number for the stroke team if we had any questions or problems, can it get any better!. My only gripe would be the wait in the dept where he got his carotid doppler. Actually it wasnt so much the long wait between 2-3 hours (we fully understand these depts are very busy) but the fact that no one updated us as to what was happening. There was no receptionist for most of the time so you were left sitting there with no contact from anyone wondering if you were even in the right place or whether you had missed your turn. Entering a dept where you are greeted with a sign informing you what to do with your referral form isnt great when your feeling anxious.


Ward5. And Vascular team at Pilgrim


Well what is there to say about this ward that is good? Well I can tell you not a lot at all, especially at night.

Women were screaming in pain and shouting for help for hours before any member of staff arrived. One staff member even turned up in the bay with a night shirt on and hair hung all over, it was obvious she had been sleeping herself.

I was laid on the bed bleeding heavy from where the drain had been took out on my neck from having Carotid Endarterectomy, as they had not stopped the bleed properly, only when my daughter went to get someone did I get sorted.

Cleaners only did what they thought needed cleaning, I felt like saying give me the trolley, I could do better in a flash, the place is disgusting to be honest.

I would never go back there again for any time of treatment, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend the hospital to anyone.

Lets see how long it takes the hospital to respond to this review!

They don’t seem to respond to any what I can see, says it all for the hospital doesn’t it.


I had cardiothoracic surgery at Blackpool hospital

I was transferred as an emergency in jan 2012 from blackburn I had chronic heart failure due to an aortic dissection my surgery was done in feb where my aortic root was replaced with a synthetic one my aortic arch and carotid arteries where repaired, my descending aorta was fenestrated and my aortic valve was replaced with a metal valve. My family and I are very happy with the care and understanding from not only the staff on ward 38 but the whole surgery team including the consultant surgeon although I had no choice in being sent to blackpool but I would advise anyone needing expert care for a heart problem to choose blackpool.

Mohammed saeed