My Dad’s a Goldfish – Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs)

The Goldfish when a young lad with his brother and sister

The Goldfish when a young lad with his brother and sister

Transient ischemic attacks are fairly common in people with dementia. The signs and symptoms are very similar to those of a stroke: slurred or garbled speech, difficulty understanding others. On their own those aren’t particularly unusual in people with advanced dementia but there’s also weakness or paralysis in face, arm or leg, usually on side of the body and loss of co-ordination and balance.
When the Goldfish first showed symptoms of having a TIA it was pretty scary and, as with almost everything else with dementia we were always one step behind in our knowledge and understanding.
He slept for most of the day and although he woke up in the early evening he seemed more than usually ‘out of it’. I suggested a game of Snakes and Ladders, which he usually enjoyed – especially if he was beating the DH and seeing him slide down the snake. I noticed he couldn’t hold the shaker for the dice and he seemed to leaning over to one side, unable to bring himself upright. His eyes were unfocussed.
The DH called NHS 24 – the out-of-hours service. He’s much better at doing this kind of thing than I am. I just get cross at all the questions when I just want them to send a doctor AT ONCE! The DH is patient and somehow manages to make them understand the seriousness of the situation.
They did say a doctor would come out to see the Goldfish and he arrived in less than half an hour. As I ushered him into the living room the Goldfish looked up, gave the man a huge beaming smile and said: “Hello, how are you? Nice to see you.” The clue, I guess, is in the word transient.
The doctor and seemed not in the least put out that the patient he’d probably expected to find at death’s door was bubbling with good humour and bonhomie at having a visitor. He checked the Goldfish thoroughly and confirmed what we had begun to suspect that he had had a TIA.
Many more were to follow – sometimes while he slept, sometimes during the day – and we learned to manage but each one meant the Goldfish slipped a little further down the dementia slope.