“This time last year I was a bit of a zombie. Now I just need everything to work properly.”

Amanda is now 18 months post – stroke.

Her daily routine has switched completely from the same one she had for more than 10 years.

But routine continues to be important.

Routine gives her confidence and allows her to regain her skills and allows me to measure progress and compare her speed or the complexity of a task or action compared to last week or last month.

Last week she said;

This time last year I was a bit of a zombie. Now I just need everything to work properly.”

She has much more sense of being in control, noticing more and participating in more. Her curiosity has returned. No longer just accepting her situation is a huge step forward.

She continues to take 2 Voluntastrols capsules each morning.

Their website talks about how they can support mood balance as well as cognition and neuroplasticity. This is the brains ability to build new paths in order to access information and knowledge.

In Amanda’s case she saved a back- up copy during her brain bleed and has since waited patiently for her brain to build new neural pathways to retrieve it.

Those bridges are clearly being constructed. Each day more and more of Amanda’s personality, which has been muted for 18 months, has slowly emerged from the fog of her brain.

Mood is a hard one for non-experts like me to define.

We all recognise happy and sad in ourselves and others. ‘Tuning in’ to our partners and those close to us is another innate human skill, often defined as empathy. But the person on the receiving end has to be able to give out the signals before we can tune in to them. Brain injuries can muddle, confuse and even mute those signals.

Having known Amanda for nearly 40 years I could tell immediately post-stroke that some of her signals had been either turned down or off completely. In the last few months many of these signals have found a way back once again and into her voice, her facial expressions and body language.

It could be argued that the Voluntastrols are merely having a placebo effect. But surely the term is meaningless when it comes to an injured brain? All the usual rules about how we react, whether consciously or unconsciously must be thrown out when a brain is not functioning normally.

So, in Amanda’s case I can only agree. Yes, Voluntastrols DO appear to be supporting both her cognition and neuroplasticity.

In terms of mood balance, while fortunately Amanda has not suffered mood swings or anything anywhere near depression or negativity, Voluntastrols appear to have assisted her to maintain an increasing positivity to the extent she has definitely moved to the next stage. More of which next…

 

The local Health Board has agreed to fund a further 12 months of home support; 2 hours a day 5 days a week.

For the past year a support worker has visited 9.30 – 10.30a.m. and again 12.30 – 1.30pm. The same support worker attended most of these sessions, initially supporting things like food prep and where to find stuff in the kitchen as Amanda’s recollection of the previously familiar world around her had almost completely disappeared.

A week ago Amanda’s main support worker told us she would be working elsewhere. So I took the opportunity to find out if we could get Amanda’s Wednesday morning person for more shifts.

This is an older lady who has worked almost exclusively and passionately for an hour each week to help Amanda regain her literacy and numeracy. They hit it off straight away and Amanda always looks forward to their short time together each week.

With a bit of organising she is now coming for a 2 hour session four days a week. This opens up huge possibilities for continuity, expanding Amanda’s concentration span and ongoing improvement.

In addition to the ongoing sessions already she is talking about the extra time being used for Amanda to start looking through recipes and re-learning her culinary skills. W

When spring arrives in a few months she intends to get Amanda back out gardening again, something which has sadly fallen by the wayside for both of us in the last 18 months.

This renewed momentum and positivity has further increased Amanda’s enthusiasm and motivation in the past week. Her minor ‘blip’ of ‘This is me for the rest of my life now.’ From a few weeks ago has been transformed into renewed possibilities and opportunities.

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