22/01/2024 | Press releases

‘I had a stroke during my hospital appointment’

When Tracey Holland went for a routine research appointment at Ipswich Hospital’s Research Unit she didn’t realise she was having a stroke.

She apologised for having a twitchy eye, but the research nurses at her appointment realised immediately Tracey might be showing signs of a stroke.

The 59-year-old said: “My eye was a bit funny that morning and by the time I got to hospital I couldn’t see out of it very well. I happened to mention it. The nurses Helen and Debbie said they didn’t think something was quite right.”

Man in wheelchair and woman behind him cupping his shoulder. They're smiling and looking at camera
Tracey and Paul Holland

Tracey, who lives in Hadleigh with her husband Paul, was checked over by Dr Sanjeev Sharma who said her blood pressure was high and she needed to see the stroke team immediately. The right side of her face had also started to droop. Dr Sharma spoke to the on-call stroke consultant and Tracey was advised to go the A&E for urgent review by the stroke team. She was immediately escorted there by Helen, a member of the research team.

After a CT scan she was kept in Ipswich Hospital overnight and told she’d had a mini stroke.

She said: “It was all rather shocking. I was told it was a small stroke and needed to stay in. I care for Paul who is poorly after having a stroke and heart attacks himself, so I was concerned about him at that point.”

The grandmother-of-five is a research participant on one of the studies at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) that run Ipswich Hospital.

She added: “I was in the right place at the right time. Helen and Debbie just seemed to know. They were amazing. I can’t thank them enough and they came up to the ward to check on me. If I’d been at home I think I’d have carried on ignoring it.”

Tracey stayed in Ipswich Hospital for one night and is now taking medication at home while waiting for further follow-up appointments.

Three people with lanyards on. Two women with red medical uniforms, one man in a suit.
Helen Atkins (left), Debbie Simmonds and Dr Sanjeev Sharma

Endocrinology consultant Dr Sharma said: “The Trials Research Unit at Ipswich Hospital caters to a large cohort of research patients with a range of existing conditions.

“While we endeavour to provide patients with the best research care, as a clinical team, it is also our responsibility to provide holistic care to all our patients irrespective of the type of trial involved.

“In this case, we were fortunate to have picked up the early symptoms and signs of stroke involving Tracey and act accordingly.

“Irrespective of the reason patients are attending hospital, they should never hesitate to inform the healthcare team about their ongoing and new symptoms.

“We hope to see Tracey much better in her subsequent research appointments and thank her for her gratitude.”

More information about strokes and the symptoms are available on the NHS website. The main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the word FAST:

  • Face – the face may have dropped on 1 side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
  • Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in 1 arm.
  • Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.
  • Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.
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