“I wish I had more oomph”

As Amanda continues to progress she becomes increasingly more self- aware of her situation;  a positive sign  her inner voice is beginning to return, which gives hope that her decision making and planning capacity will also improve.

She is obviously getting frustrated at her physical and mental capability, commenting a few days ago;

“I wish I had more ‘oomph’.”  A perfect description for what you might also call your ‘get up and go’ – or what the experts call Executive Function. I told her to harness that frustration to motivate herself to do more. An inability to self -motivate has been holding her back as she clearly has the ability to do more if only she could remember from one hour to the next what is was!

But there are clear signs that show continuing improvement.

With a large storm bearing down on our part of the world, the media has been full of warnings and advice on how to prepare. Amanda looked out of the window and suggested I move the wheelie bins into the garage and also put the car in there as well. She checked out the window to make sure there were no loose objects in the garden and that we had enough food, just in case.

Planning and forethought.

As a result of the impending ex-cyclone I decided to postpone her hospital appointment in Wellington. As it transpired Air New Zealand subsequently cancelled all flights so we would have been stranded had we gone.

However, at the allotted time of her appointment the consultant unexpectedly phoned. I put him on speaker so Amanda could hear him confirm the angiogram 3 months earlier had found no underlying cause for her stroke and that, after just over 12 months they were finally discharging her from their care.

Afterwards she watched a recent BBC Horizon documentary –  My Amazing Brain – the story (so far) of a recovering stroke survivor with similar issues to Amanda. I pointed out to her how it has taken Richard (the subject of the film) over 4 years to get to the point he is now at, but that with persistence and repetitive exercise and therapy, whether mental or physical, anything is possible. Highly recommended if you have access to BBC IPlayer

For her recent birthday I gave her a Gear Fit Pro – a smart watch designed to monitor fitness.  A slightly more lavish present than usual since she missed out on one this time last year.

The benefit for Amanda is that it can track her steps (as her Fitbit does), but also prompt her to move if she has sat still for too long and also set her some exercise goals. Once she gets the hang of it she can also connect to Spotify to play music, and eventually use it for more vigorous movement such as possibly running and even swimming. The other benefit is that I can monitor it remotely from my phone.

At one point this morning she was practicing her spelling using an app on her ipad when her watch vibrated on her wrist reminding her to do some gentle exercise by showing her images of how to gently stretch.

Technology can be wonderful. But you can still only (re)learn to write right – handed using old fashioned pen and paper.

Last Thursday, the views on this blog suddenly increased hugely. Six months ago I wrote a piece for the New Zealand news website STUFF and they had asked me to keep in touch. I sent an update to Amanda’s story about 3 weeks ago and they had finally published it, together with a link to this blog.

As a result, since Thursday afternoon this blog has had 7,000 views in 6 days, and her inspiring story continues to be read.

3 thoughts on ““I wish I had more oomph”

  1. I heard about Amanda via my mum,good to hear she is progressing. Keep us up to date as we send our thoughts of love to you all. It’s a long time since we trod the boards for our school productions! Keep the faith.


  2. Your updates are extremely interesting and its great to follow the progress that Amanda continues to make, my husband had a massive stroke in August 2015 and has been unable to return to work or drive and has quite substanial cognitive impairment, in the first 18 months or so he was happy to do written exercises etc as he could notice improvement but as this slowed so too did his enthusiasm, we find your updates and Amandas progress inspiring and its incredibly interesting to follow so I just wanted to say a big thank you and I wish you and Amanda all the best.


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