Over the last few weeks there have been more glimmers of improvement as Amanda’s brain and body continue to slowly recover and progress towards her pre-stroke fitness.
Firstly, small but encouraging developments with her executive function. For example late one afternoon after her nap she went into the kitchen and emptied the dishwasher. When I asked her she said;
“I intended to do that when I got up.”
Intention requires planning and forethought… which requires an element of executive function.
When the weather is fine we go for walks in the evening But as the autumn draws the darkness in, instead of spending the evening in front of the TV, with the agreement of the doctor, now is the right time for Amanda to join the gym (which is open until 9pm), and begin a proper regime to get her limbs working, her muscles re-toned and her overall body strength increased.
It will begin very slowly to start. Making sure there is enough equipment she can use safely and easily. The gym staff has agreed to help and provide her with a program to suit her limited abilities. The plan is to begin after Easter so watch this space!
It’s hard to find the time to supervise Amanda to practice her writing every day. This evening we spent 20 minutes checking how Amanda’s literacy is progressing. It’s been a week or so since I sat with her and in previous sessions it’s taken a few minutes for her brain to ‘warm up’. We’ve been using the words shown in the picture to create simple sentences.
I started by asking her to create ‘THE BIG DOG IS SLEEPING’. She did this straight away, no warm up required. I then removed the board and asked her to write the same sentence. She also did this perfectly. Finally I tried something different; something her support workers had noted in the diary, but I hadn’t tried before; reading.
I laid out a 4 word sentence and asked Amanda to read it aloud. With a few hesitations she managed it. I tried again, adding an extra word.
Finally, a six-word sentence – Mission accomplished.
With no warm up required or separate visual alphabet to refer to, this is clearly a step forward.
While making a cup of tea at the weekend I mentioned the other flavoured teas which have languished at the back of the cupboard for the past year. Today I found her looking through these and discovering the Berocca tablets. She asked what to do with them and I reminded her how you dissolve them in water to give you extra energy and vitamins to face the busy day ahead. Tomorrow she has her weekly 3 hours at work. So she wants to make sure she takes a Berocca this week.
The other thing I realised this week? Amanda is no longer asking me at least 4 or 5 times in 10 minutes how my day has been when I come home from work.
All these small, subtle signs would easily go unnoticed in other circumstances. But once again our strong bond and familiarity with each other allows me to see things which, if missed could easily just validate the myth of a recovery plateau. Yes, many of the major milestones have long been achieved. But we intend to keep going until there is no more room to recover.
We’re nowhere near that yet.