Hi everyone. My name is Stu.
My mum had a stroke on Nov 26 2022. She had been in poor health for the last ten years. she had oral cancer in 2012 which she beat. She had peripheral artery disease and had an heart attack in 2018 resulting in her having a pacemaker fitted. She was a stubborn little sod though who like a smoke and a drink and she just would not change her lifestyle.
Earlier in 2022 she had started showing signs of confusion. I took her the to the gp who said her heart rate was fast and referred her to A&E. At A&E All her readings were normal however and said she could have a brain scan but would have to wait. As we had already been there several hours she chose not to wait. The doctors said to come back for a scan if the confusion continued. Over the next few months she seemed to return to normal.
On the evening that she had her stroke, I noticed that she was sat on the sofa with her right arm lying limp by her side. When I asked if she was okay, she replied with completely random words. I started to get worried and asked her to lift her arms up for me. She lifted both but the right one looked lower to me. It was hard to tell if her face had dropped because her cancer operation had left her with a slight droop to the face. However she did not look to be smiling fully.
I asked if she had taken her heart medication and she realised she had not and stood up to go and take it. After she had been in the kitchen and taken her tablet, she was suddenly talking properly again and could lift both arms normally. She said this had happened to her before and always went back to normal. She had kept this from me and my dad because she did not want to go back into hospital. She also revealed that she had not been taking all the medication proscribed after her heart attack. There was an anti clotting medication that she had stopped taking because it made her feel sick. For years she had been telling me she only had to take the one tablet.
I did not know that stokes can be intermittent and even standing up for a while could change you blood pressure enough for her seem normal again. She said she wanted to go for a lie down and I let her while I nipped down to the supermarket a few minutes walk away. I still feel guilty that I did not call for an ambulance there and then.
I got back from the shop as fast as possible to check on her and found her sat in the living room again. She was again speaking random words. This time I rung the ambulance. It’s as 9.30pm. It took 5-10mins for the 999 operator to get me through to the Lancashire ambulance service and he had to try different lines to get through. I could hear the frustration in his voice. The ambulance arrived at 10.15pm and the paramedics confirmed that it looked like a stroke. They drove her to Blackburn Hospital.
She arrived a little before 11pm on the Saturday. The nurse who assessed her did not believe it was a stroke but was instead some kind of palsy. She then waited without treatment for 13 hours. It was almost exactly 12pm on Sunday when she was finally seen by the stroke doctors. she was prescribed aspirin and had to then wait for a few hours more before they could get her on a ward. It was around 5pm when the nurse told me and my father to go home for rest. My dad is diabetic and had had no medication or food since the day before. We had to leave my mum lying on a trolley. She had deteriorated during the wait and was now seeing things. It was a few hours after this that she was finally moved onto a temporary ward. She would not get to the stroke ward until Tuesday.
I never heard my mum’s voice again. When we went back to the hospital on Monday morning she could no longer talk. She just moaned at us. It was heartbreaking. The doctors said that there was a lot of damage and she could not see properly out of her right eye. The arteries in her neck were furred but she was not a candidate for the operation to clear them as she was so frail. Also the blocked vein her leg meant she could not wear compression socks. He said it was going to be an uphill fight.
We were with her on the stroke ward everyday and some days were better than others. Some days she seemed oblivious to us and others she was totally alert and trying to talk to us. They moved her bed up against the wall because she kept trying to climb out of it with her good leg. Eventually however in the early hours of Boxing Day we were called to the hospital and told she had aspirated. We sat with her has she passed away exactly a month after the stroke. She was 66 years old.