Stents, English and Facebook

No posts for ages and then suddenly three things to say.  This post has three points: stents may be bad, English speaking nurses are required and facebook support is priceless.


My stroke was caused by a Vertebral Artery Dissection (VAD, a tear in an artery in my neck).  After, the artery occluded (blocked) and some people asked if I’d have to have a stent to open it up again.  My doctors never raised this but scan it once in a while to see if the occlusion is permanent or subject to change.  The stent-askers were mostly from the US, where it seems to be more popular.  Anyway, a US study now suggests you’re more likely to die if you have a stent than if you don’t – so much so they stopped the trial.  Click on this excerpt if you want the full article:

The difference is so significant that a trial was stopped early because data showed patients who received stents died more often and had more strokes than those treated with medical therapy alone: “We hypothesized that stenting would be more effective than medical therapy and found exactly the opposite.”


It was hard to say this clearly when I was sick, because it sounded (at best) unfriendly and (at worst) possibly racist.  However, the fact remains that it was incredibly difficult being ill around nurses where their command of English wasn’t excellent.

The implications of misunderstanding ‘have had [pain meds]’ and ‘would like [pain meds]’ are significant.  In my case – and this happened more than once, as did other things – my frustration was I could understand what the deal and issues were but not always communicate it.  And trying to explain tenses and verbs to one’s nurse is not really what you’d prefer to be doing while you’re trying to, you know, not die and stuff.

Why am I mentioning this again now?

 Well, the House Of Lords got a warning about it from Lord (Robert) Winston.  Apparently we can’t even test the language skills (nor the nursing skills!!!) of European Union nurses which seems, well, utterly barking to me.    Don’t get me wrong, if they’re here legally, are clinically competent and speak (or at least understand) great English then I think our health service can use all the good staff it can get, but there have to be minimum qualifications for any job.

You can read more in The Telegraph or the Daily Mail.


I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but if you’re dealing with a stroke or a VAD then there are a couple of great forums on Facebook.  Even if you join, you don’t have to participate unless you want to.

Though I belong to both, I identify more with the Young Stroke Survivors than the Vertebral Artery Dissection group.  This is because I’ve a lot of the same issues as the stroke people, and don’t really identify with anything much on the VAD group.

But they are brilliant.  Yes, there are a few people who simply post about their woes (but at least they have an audience who knows what they are talking about and can respond).  Yes, there are some who want to tell everyone how wonderful it was to have had the opportunity to have had the stroke/VAD (but at least they point out that it’s not all bad).  But mostly it’s a group of people that you couldn’t easily pull together in real life.  I’ve made online friends, some of whom I hope I’ll meet one of these days.  You might remember me, in the first month after my stroke, blogging about Dom Pardy’s blog (see: what I said, or: the blog itself) and – if he doesn’t mind me saying so – I like to think he’s become a friend and that’s probably due to Facebook.

So if you’re looking for others who might know things, be interested in some of the same things or who will simply understand your world, then click on…!


One comment

  1. Dom Pardey says:

    Thanks Charley – blogging is good therapy
    I agree that the YSS group on facebook is useful and there are some good people BUT there are some nutters who have told me off for ‘being too negative’ – they can f*ck themselves because they have no idea and the prosletizing muppets who basically tell me that the god they love got angry (rightly they say) and decided to ruin my life, and thats ok because ‘his perfect plans can’t be wrong’ -morons.

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