Amanda is now into month 17 of her stroke recovery and month 3 of taking 2 Voluntastrols capsules each day – and recovery still continues.
I’m now opening the capsules and mixing the contents with her breakfast porridge. For her this is easier than swallowing them and just turns the porridge purple. As well as extracts from chamomile and citrus, the capsules also contain extracts from Theobroma cacao (a component of dark chocolate) and blueberries.
So for good measure, I’m also adding a small amount of blueberries to the porridge and also leaving a few squares of good quality dark chocolate (Whittaker’s 72% Dark Ghana if you’re a Kiwi ) for Amanda to eat with her cup of tea
And the evidence for this ongoing improvement?
Firstly, her recall in general and specifically her ability to remember things she has previously read. For example she read a Facebook story on a missing dog. A few days later the story was updated when the dog was found.
“Ah, that’s good, he’s been found.” She said.
This, despite her ongoing inability to read aloud, or read detailed news articles or books. We have agreed that this might be because her brain cannot yet retain the ‘story trail’ of a long article or book. But short, sharp paragraphs of the kind usually associated with Facebook posts, are manageable.
I hit on the idea of getting Amanda to have a go at reading Dr Suess’ Green Eggs & Ham. It’s a book we read to the kids when they were small and they fooled us in to believing they could read at an early age when actually they just learned the whole book by listening to it night after night! The phrases are short. So are the words, and there is an element of repetition.
A support worker who listened to Amanda read noted she did well to recognise the words and read aloud, but as I had already suspected she too noted it required complex memory skills to memorise the previous page and retain the flow of the book.
Self- confidence to growing too. On Sunday we walked to the local café. Previously Amanda would sit while I went to the counter and ordered. This time she was happy to stand in the busy queue and choose her cake before sitting down.
The Constant Therapy app continues to challenge Amanda (in a good way) as it gradually adds more complicated and challenging tasks to an ever growing list of challenges. This week the added difficulty has been mental arithmetic using hundreds; so 2 numbers to carry for those who remember when we learned how to do this all in our head all those years ago! But Amanda has risen to the challenge and has re-grasped a concept she first learned nearly 50 years ago!
Amanda also surprised her other support worker by successfully completing the following word grid. Not only identifying the words common to each category but also writing them down.
The most striking endorsement of her apparent improvement came from her Occupational Therapist. She currently sees Amanda for just 30 minutes each week and sent me the following text:-
It will be interesting to see the outcome of that assessment.
Last night as we left the gym, the lady who had been on the treadmill behind Amanda stopped and jumped off and we walked by. She introduced herself and Amanda remembered her as they used to attend the same gym and our kids are the same age. She told Amanda how amazing she was and that she was aware of Amanda’s situation as her future son –in –law had been the paramedic who initially attended to her when she collapsed at home.
Amanda gets a lot of casual praise, often from people she knows, but I don’t. Last night she floated out of the gym with a huge smile on her face.