Tuesday, 6 December 2011

TIA - would you know the signs?

Hi Guys

This is where watching very little TV, and almost never the commercial channels, has done me a disservice - apparently there is a TV advert which gives the FAST signs - Face, Arms, Speech - of an impending stroke.  Not knowing this, I sat and watched my Mum have a TIA - a mini-stroke - in my front room on Friday night.  We were having a conversation about recent tests she had been having at her GP surgery, because she had signs of high cholesterol, when she was suddenly struck dumb.  I could see that she wanted to speak but was having trouble finding her words, and when she did work out what to say, it came out all wrong.  A few minutes later it was all over, and she was sitting and speaking normally.

I phoned my friend, who is a nurse, and she said it was probably a TIA and that the GP would want to see Mum immediately and would probably send her to A and E.  I phoned the GP, but he did not want to see her.   She had had a recent blood pressure check and a blood test, of which he had the results as he spoke to me.  He told me to get her some aspirin and start her taking them, and that he would write her a prescription for some medication to lower her cholesterol levels, which we should pick up on Monday, and that was pretty much it.  Now it is pretty much business as usual - she has been staying with my sister since Friday but is due to go home today.  Hopefully she will soon get a referral to the TIA clinic at the hospital, where they will hopefully confirm that all is now ok.

The worst thing, in a way, is that she has been told not to drive for six weeks, which is a huge blow to her independence.  So she is going to need a good deal of looking after.  Poor old Mum.

Of course, nobody wants to be reminded of the mortality of their parents, but it must be worse for the parents themselves.  Even a minor incident like this is a huge blow to the confidence.  My children were devastated, of course, once they realised what had happened in front of their eyes; although at the time they didn't even notice.  Afterwards, they were terribly upset at what could have become of Granny, and I felt so much for them.  Death is the bogey man for all of us, but he seems most threatening when you are young, before you have weathered a few storms and realise that nothing is the end of the world, except of course the end of the world. 

I feel that I have coped surprisingly well through all this.  I have spent a lot of my life in a state of arrested development (until I had my own children, in fact) and the biggest fear I could name was always that of losing my mother.  But at times when that loss has seemed most likely - on several occasions over the last few years - I have not found myself descending into panic, but reacting instead to the situations as they have evolved.  I think it is because I have more balance at the core now - my family, my home.  I have to manage when times are hard, I have to teach my children how to manage. 

I would hate to lose my Mum, at any time.  I will never be ready to part with the person who gave me life.  But maybe these happenings are a way of toughening us all up, preparing us.  We know that we are not immortal, but we have to keep ignoring it - until one day the fact pops up and bops us in the face.  Then the only challenge will be not to fall flat over.

Louise x

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