As the first anniversary of Amanda’s stroke approaches, I reminded her that a year ago this weekend we were busy painting the window frames at the front of the house.
She said she has a vague recollection of this.
For at least 6 months after her stroke she couldn’t remember anything from the 6 months pre-stroke. This recollection indicated that the memory has always been there. The fact she can now recall memories from just a few days before the stroke shows that through the trauma and damage, her brain has managed to retrieve and recall something which is now long term, not short term. Her brain is now using a different area to remember this memory. It appears that we also use our ‘working memory’ for short term memories as well.
I decided to test her working memory again today by laying out 6 objects on a tray and asking her firstly to name them, once I had covered them up again, and then tell me which one is missing when I removed one.
At first she had difficulty naming each item, particularly for some reason, the glasses case. But by describing what they are used for she managed to use logic and deduction to correctly identify them.
She didn’t so well with the list once I’d hidden the items but had a 50% success rate identifying the missing item. To demonstrate it’s not just a recall issue I then asked her to name members of her family.
She managed 14. Working memory still needs work.
Another milestone this week is showering.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been standing in the bathroom while Amanda showers each morning. In the early days this was in case she lost her balance or forgot the routine. This week she has been making her way into the bathroom alone and getting as far as stepping out before I have to intervene as she cannot dry her own back thoroughly yet. I’m just listening out for the water to stop and that’s my cue to go in.
Also, a week or so ago I mentioned on a few of the stroke Facebook pages that Amanda pours shampoo directly on to the top of her head so is unable to see how much she is using (… a lot!)
I asked for suggestions to manage this. The most popular suggestion was a pump dispenser mounted to the wall. But another was to pour the shampoo onto the palm of her affected right hand and then scrape it off with the left. I decided the pump dispenser was just enabling the disability, so instead suggested she try the other method.
So now she pours shampoo into her right palm, and scrapes the majority off with the left before making an attempt to rub any remaining shampoo onto her head thereby re-training and strengthening her right arm and shoulder.
Our marital telepathy is also repairing itself. Every afternoon after her sleep, if I’m at work, Amanda will make herself a cup of tea. If I’m home, I’ll offer to do it. Yesterday I came back from the gym as she was emerging from the bedroom. She just smiled and said,
On Friday we were watching a comedy show on TV where the comedian began his routine by lamenting the ‘sadly departed David Bowie’. Amanda looked at me.
“David Bowie’s dead?”
I reminded her how he had released his final album the day he died.
Her Aphasia is in good company.