A little TIA

Hi all, happy weekend to you! I’m new to this forum and just want to say thanks for all the valuable insights being shared here - I’m already learning so much as I read through your experiences and advice. However, I thought rather than lurking around maybe I should also share my story… :slightly_smiling_face:

Almost 3 weeks ago I experienced a TIA while working from home. I was in the middle of a zoom meeting (standing up - I have one of those cool up and down desks :upside_down_face:) when this sudden feeling of numbness came down the right side of my face and body and into my hand. I thought to myself “okay this is a bit odd, but I do feel quite stressed about this topic we’re discussing, it’s probably just that…” The weirdest thing is I felt otherwise fine to keep talking to this person on the call, but after a few minutes I eventually asked her if she minded me taking a moment to go and get some air as I wasn’t feeling right. I went off into another room and took a seat and some deep breaths, by which point the numbness in my face was beginning to subside… so probably around 5 minutes later I rejoined the meeting and we picked up where we left off, although my right arm still felt so numb that I had to use my left hand to control the uppy/downy desk and take a wee seat. It wasn’t until after the call finished I started googling stuff like trapped nerve / numbness on one side etc. and decided okay maybe time to call my GP. Annoyingly I couldn’t get through to them easily and the receptionist informed me I’d need to wait for a call back. While waiting on that I decided to keep doing some Googling and came across this video about TIA on the NHS website. This was the OMG moment…

Thereafter I decided to call NHS 24 instead of waiting on the GP, and they sent someone within 30 mins who assessed me and decided I needed to go to A&E. That ambulance crew (and all the hospital staff actually) were absolute angels :angel:
A bit of a wait later I was in the hospital having an ECG, CT scan and some bloods taken. The A&E doctor explained to me the ECG looked fine but there were some “abnormalities” in my brain from the CT scan, but they didn’t seem to account for the stroke because those “abnormalities” were on the right hand side and my numbness was also on the right hand side and the left controls the right. He recommended I needed an MRI and that the stroke team would come and talk to me. (Why is he calling it a stroke I wondered? I thought a TIA wasn’t as serious as a stroke? What the heck is an abnormality? Do I have some kind of brain tumour?).

A&E was seriously busy that afternoon - I don’t make a habit of frequenting it so not sure what “normal” is but they appeared pretty much stretched to the limit! I was moved into an observation unit, more waiting and was in overnight in the end. Meanwhile my thoughts were racing to all the worst possible scenarios. I had my MRI scan the next day late morning - that is not an experience to be repeated (hopefully) as I found it terribly claustrophobic :grimacing: The stroke consultant came to talk to me much later that afternoon to share the results - apparently they could see from the MRI I had an “abnormality” on the left side which would explain the TIA but they also found evidence of many other “abnormalities” apparently indicating “past events”. The specialist believes these previous strokes may have occurred without symptoms and could be a result of a patent foramen ovale (I understand this is kind of like a hole in the heart?) which to diagnose I will require a further test called an echocardiogram. Before leaving A&E I was prescribed a high dose of clopidogrel initially and then instructed to take 1 every day from now until forever, as well as aspirin for the first 3 weeks.

I’m now nearing the end of that 3 weeks since leaving hospital and finally beginning to take it all in and feel a bit better in myself. I have my echocardiogram appointment next week which I do hope explains if I have the heart issue or not, although I’m a little nervous if it doesn’t show anything I feel I may be left with more questions that answers… I’m troubled also by all those previous strokes they say have happened. I look back on stressful times in my life and I know I’ve had dizzy spells and numbness in my hand before. Now I’m kicking myself for not addressing it sooner and putting it down to stress. I’m also feeling very regretful about lifestyle choices I made in the past, drinking a lot as a student and putting a lot of pressure on myself at school, in university, at work. I suppose we can’t change the past so it’s not useful to dwell on it, but I need to teach myself not to keep going down that train of thought. Another thing I’m struggling with is memory… I have been having this for a wee while so maybe it’s not even TIA related, but basically I cannot remember certain events which have happened in my life (holidays, parties, meals out). My boyfriend must surely be getting sick of my new phrase - “I don’t remember that sorry”! Anyway Google photos has become my friend as I try to remind myself of all these things :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Thanks for hearing my story. Actually, even if no-one reads this it’s quite cathartic to write it all down. I am finding it hard to tell people what’s happened, except for close family and work colleagues who are asking where I am. It’s kind of difficult to just message people randomly like “FYI I had a stroke”. So yeah, thanks in advance for the listening (virtually) ear!!



Hello @Lynsey87, the PFO diagnosis is one of the first ports of call for younger stroke survivors if no immediate cause can be found. We all have that little hole in our heart, but for about 30% of the population, the hole doesn’t close up. Most people can live without it causing any problems, but for some, the left to right heart shunt can cause platelets to miss the lungs, and enter the bloodstream again. They will give you an echocardiogram bubble study, I had one but no PFO was found, so the stroke I had remains cryptogenic. It’s possible that you have had silent strokes in the past which are different from TIAs because they don’t show any obvious lasting symptoms, but TIAs will show symptoms and are warning signs of the possibility of having a major stroke. A TIA causes damage, so even a TIA can result in the need to recover as would a person who has suffered a stroke, and fatigue can be just as intense for someone who has had a TIA as it can for someone who has had a full-blown stroke, stroke symptoms aren’t discerning, as well as stroke is not discriminating. Hopefully, the anti-platelet meds will act as a good preventative.

Stress and lifestyle factors can contribute to strokes but they rarely are the cause. It’s unlikely long-term memory has been affected by what has occurred, the hippocampus is buried deep within our grey matter for the very reason of protecting itself from other brain injury, that’s why procedural memory is so implicit. However, if other parts of the brain responsible for communicating with the hippocampus have been damaged, it will be a case of the communication channels being temporary offline. So, for instance, I had a cerebellar stroke, and my short term recall has been affected, but another part of my brain seems to have jumped in, and the result has been that my retention is now better than it was before my stroke. I still have limited short term recall, so a sacrifice has temporarily been made. Try exercising your long-term memory, if there has been injury, you can get those transmitters back online by exercising them. There are many other factors in life that disrupt or affect our memory, so don’t panic too much about this. Just the trauma in itself can affect concentration when remembering. Thanks for posting, and I hope the forum is informative for you, but also that we can give you the support you need during this time as these events do cause anxiety.


Thanks @Mahoney for the reply. Telling people is so weird, e.g. I had an interesting conversation with my boss yesterday during which I got the impression he wasn’t really understanding it fully. I worry he will assume now that I’m on medication that everything is going to be A-OK and thinking I will be back to work soon. To be honest I’d like it myself if that was the case, although I can’t help but feel it might not be as easy as that. I’m waiting for a referral to my work’s Occupational Health department of which I hear good things so fingers crossed they have some sensible advice too. Do you have support of that kind from your work? Oh also I kind of tactically told some other colleagues about it by email…people who I knew were waiting on my help with things and I knew it wouldn’t get done any time soon. I felt I may as well get the word out since folk do talk. Since then there have been a few absolute gems who have gotten in touch with me and it’s really lifted my spirits!! :star_struck: So maybe it’s just about choosing who and when, and perhaps some people will know how to support you really effortlessly and others less so depending on what’s going on in their own lives.

@Rups Thank you for all of this really amazing information!

I am with you on the fatigue! I went for a 30 min walk at the beginning of last week and I felt like I’d run a marathon. Also social interactions are super tiring!!

Oh and on the memory front, that is really comforting to hear how you are finding your retention better even though the short-term memory isn’t as good. Any tips for exercising my brain?? :brain:

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Aw @Loshy thanks for your reply. I’m so sorry to hear you had the stroke in March and then another in August, that must have been a bit of a fright? You know I keep telling myself actually to try and not feel shame about it, after all there is nothing we could do to stop it having happened or any way to predict that it was about to happen. It’s really emotional though to explain it to others as you never know how they might react. Are you finding some people are being very supportive? Great you are getting out and able to drive, even if it’s just half an hour. I’m still “banned” at the moment so my partner is my chauffeur haha. Good luck to you as well :relaxed:

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Hello @Lynsey87, hope it helps. There are many things you can do to improve either implicit or explicit memory. Brain HQ has some free exercises, the exercises have been developed by Micheal Merzenich who pioneered modern research into neurological-plasticity, which is important for you at the moment because neurological-plasticity is working hardest to repair in the first six months after a TIA or stroke before it starts to slow down, and improvements slow down and become harder. These exercises may not be applicable to you but they wouldn’t hurt. I also play a game called Match a Leaf, it’s a card memory game. You can buy many of these simple card match games, and they are fun to play with the kids or partner. For long-term memory, you could also look at old photographs or objects, and try and remember details about them. Anything would do. Quizzes are great, especially on topics you know, or even general quizzes. Anything really to get the neurotransmitters firing off again. The key is, keep the exercises varied and don’t stop trying to remember things. In fact, start practising it on purpose. I would be very surprised if your long-term memory has been affected, to be honest, I think the injury is just causing the brain to struggle with processing memories because of the injury. The first three months after my stroke, I had constant confusion everyday, it subsided after about six months. A trauma, big or small (my damage was very small but dispersed, as I had six TIAs before the major stroke), will discombobulate the brain for a while from the shock it has had.

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I am not sure any TIA is little, I had just ended 5 minutes on the exercise bike and walked up one step into the kitchen when I lost a quarter of the sight in my right eye. My daughter told me to sit down and recover and it. Would probably be ok. After 10 minutes my sight came back and I felt fine. This happened on the Saturday. My daughter told me to ring the Medical Centre on Monday and check with my GP. I couldn’t get through to reception, just a message to ring 111 which I didn’t want to do. My daughter rang in the evening and told me to ring 111 if I could not get through on Tuesday. I couldn’t , I rang 111, within minutes an ambulance and 22 paramedics were on the doorstep and I was whisked off to Aand E. was triaged by older doc who muttered TIA and referred me to a young doc, she examined me but couldn’t find anything wrong with me, whilst she was discharging me decided I should go to the eye hospital. After more tests consultant said I should have been referred to stroke clinic, as the clinic was closed, she would get me referred the next day. I went home.
Had a phone call in the morning for an appointment that afternoon. Registrar sent me for an ultrasound and called in a neuro registrar… they told my daughter, my son in NZ via face time and I that I had a clot in my carotid artery, a piece of it had broken off and. Gone down Ann artery branch to my eye. They. Wanted. To operate ASAP but needed to wait a week to get the blood thinners out of my system, big NEURO boss a surgeon commander wanted me to stay in because of covid, I might not be allowed back in to have the op. They explained I would have to be. Awake during the op and that I could lose my voice, which caused my children great hilarity. We agreed I should. Have. The op and stay in hospital.

Being awake whilst They cut you from ear to the base of your throat is traumatic , they removed. The clot but couldn’t patch the. Artery So had too put a stent in. This meant loss of blood to brain and a paralysed left wrist and hand. Plus a. Very sore brain. I was glad just to have survived. Stroke team helped to. get use of. Hand and wrist back, I always felt it was mind over matter Thing and kept telling my. Brain to connect with my hand, eventually It did… Marylin

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@Pipgran Marilyn I can’t believe what you’ve been through, this sounds absolutely terrifying, especially the operation whilst awake! You must be made of some strong stuff!!! When did all this happen? It sounds like you are doing much better now, and that is a great mantra ‘mind over matter’ to-reteach the brain I guess? Hope you are doing well, thanks for the reply :relaxed:

Hi Lynsey
That all happened a year ago. I know what you mean about noise, i am not good with shrieking children but it does get better. My blood cancer was diagnosed in July and am not a fan of my chemo pills but they are to stop the blood clots forming so I don’t get another stroke. I no stronger than any one, when you have no choice, you do it. Life is precious to me. I find classic fm soothing and used to have it on after my husband had his stroke, it kept things calm. I do think you have to reprogramme the brain make it find a way to communicate, as well as do the physical exercises. Never give in or give up and remember it takes time. Marylin

Hi i hope you are feeling better. I had a stroke in 2014 which has left me with little use down my left side. There was no warning, i got up in the morning as usual to go to work at my local school ( helped at Breakfast Club & was a school cleaner). Woke up got washed & dressed then went downstairs to make my breakfast then sat down when my left side just dropped. Having seen adverts on t.v thought it was a stroke so had to ring my phone to set the house one to ring which would wake my husband who was upstairs in bed as it was only 6.30 in the morning. He rang for an ambulance and when at the hospital had a scan which shown i had the cause of my stroke was 2 blood clots on the left side of my brain, I tried for a year but could see i was not able to continue to work so after 35 yrs at school i retired. My present situation is i don’t drive any more need assistance by my husband (who became my carer) but the main thing is i can still do my hobby which is knitting, not as quick which i love and have a go at other crafts with help from friends. I think i am lucky most of the time as i know people who didn’t survive. The only thing left is to try & go swimming again.


Been twice before Urmston Baths was updated. I went in and felt o.k. but nervious ,Trying to get Steve to take me there to check what they can offer even if i have to book a course feel i need professional help. Not ready to give up as yet.

Hi @Brenda1946 Thanks for replying and sharing. I agree with Mahoney you are so inspirational with getting back into the swimming! I hope you find a course that’s beneficial and it helps. By the way I just started to try knitting myself, I could probably do with a few tips from you as it’s taken me hours to do only a few rows of this cushion pattern! :blush: Take care

Hi Lynsey. With regards to knitting i am willing to help you in any way i can. First where do you live as i belong to a knitting club which is open to anyone. Most of us are knitters but we have just had a lady join us who trying to knit. I live in Stretford Manchester and our club meets at our local library on Sat at 10.00-12.00. If not what can i help you with in regards to help you with? I have copies showing you how to cast on & off plus which i can send also any pattens you might like. My email address is brendabriggs48@btinternet.com if it helps. Just let me know.

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Aw thanks @Brenda1946 that is so kind! I am in Edinburgh actually so just a little bit out of the way :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: I have been trying to make a cushion cover with moss knit pattern - Youtube videos have been very helpful actually, but it’s just slow going. I returned to work last week after some time off following my TIA so I’ve less time to spare these days. Looking forward to the Christmas holidays to try and finish my little project! Hope you’re keeping well.

Thanks for your message. I was sorry to read that you live in Edinburgh as i was hoping to meet you and try to help. I have various bits & pieces which show you various ways of doing things which sometimes help me or adjust to suit me. What kind of things were you going to try. With the weather being bad i have a pattern for fingerless gloves, in fact it is just one rectangle which you only have to sew up the side leaving a space for your thumb. If you would like a copy of this or anything i can offer here is my address brendabriggs48@btinternet.com, or if you prefer let me have yours. Let me know how you are getting on with your cushion & if possible a photo of it, and i can send you photos of my effort. I hope you & all your family and friends have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.