Poppadoms, Dominoes & Michelle Obama

Yes, the gap between posts is getting longer. No, this doesn’t mean the improvements are slowing down.

On the contrary, improvements are continuing but they’re getting harder to define. As Amanda seems to be continuously edging closer back to her pre-stroke self she then seems to edge forward just a little bit more, redefining the goal once again.

With the winter chills and winds finally drawing to a close in New Zealand, hopefully she can resume regular daily walks outside. Her walking confidence has started to slide while she’s been largely confined to the house during winter.

During this time I’ve tried to get to the mall on the weekend and then park the car a few hundred metres from the entrance. Our local mall is separated by a large car park on a hill. Parking between the two buildings encourages Amanda to at least try some gentle hill – climbing with the reward of a hot chocolate at the cafe at the top.

She still enjoys daily quiz programmes on TV. Her memory and general knowledge haven’t suffered as a result of the stroke. But one recent addition to our viewing is also having unexpected results

UK and Kiwi readers will be familiar with 8 out of 10 Cats Do Countdown –  a comedic twist on an old TV format where comedians attempt to solve word and number puzzles. The word part involves trying to find words from randomly selected letters. Just before each ad break the presenter shows the viewers an anagram and gives a comical clue to the answer.

The clue was:

DAMPPOOP – Comes with a curry

Bearing in mind Amanda’s short -term memory issues, along with apparent working memory and symbol recognition problems, a few weeks ago she successfully worked this out during the ad break by not only remembering the letters in the clue, but then mentally shuffling them around to come up with:



Although we have a joint bank account, since Amanda’s stroke, I’ve been the only one to spend money. At first Amanda couldn’t remember how. The whole sequence was beyond her.

A month or so ago she asked if she could pay at the supermarket. As we approached the checkout I reminded her of the procedure and also her PIN. She duly remembered what to do and began loudly reciting the numbers as she began to key in her PIN. I managed to stop her at the second digit and she continued silently.

Amanda regularly plays Scrabble with her support worker who helps with letter recognition but increasingly has stepped back and deliberately become more competitive as Amanda’s confidence has increased. Amanda recently found an old box of domino pieces and wanted to re-learn. So they gave it a go and Amanda won at her first attempt.

I’ve mentioned before how Amanda enjoys listening to audio books now she finds it impossible to read paper ones. The downside of this free library service is that, the books tend to be older and not by familiar, well – know authors. Unfortunately her Ipad doesn’t support newer software which would allow her to listen to her favourite authors again.

But a recent unrelated purchase had an unintentional benefit.

I replaced our ageing surround sound system with a soundbar. It comes with Alexa; Amazon’s voice assistant, built in.

A few days after setting the whole thing up I mentioned to Amanda that the soundbar came with Alexa. On hearing its name Alexa unexpectedly sprang to life, talking to us from the under the TV.

I went online and quickly looked up everything Alexa could do. That included linking to Amazon’s Audible book service, which was the service Amanda’s old Ipad wouldn’t load.

I set up a month’s trial with Audible and Amanda quickly chose The Michelle Obama biography, read by the author herself.

Another benefit was discovered was while watching Masterchef last night. They mentioned an ingredient neither of us had heard of. I could have googled it but instead Amanda just spoke;

“Alexa, what’s a Candlenut?”

A few seconds later Alexa interrupted  the TV dialogue and gave us a quick overview of the South East Asian Candlenut.

This Afternoon Amanda said;

“Alexa, play Audible.”

A few seconds later Michelle Obama entered the room and began to tell us her life story.


3 thoughts on “Poppadoms, Dominoes & Michelle Obama

  1. Great to read about Amanda’s progress. I get ebooks out of the library and download onto my iPad as only have use of left hand now after my stroke, so holding a paper book and turning pages is a bit of a pain. Some quite good and current books available.


  2. Wow Matt to hear that you can see glimpses of pre stroke Amanda more and more gave me goose bumps. Its so humbling to read about Amandas continued improvements.


  3. What an incredibly strong couple you both are. It is just so inspiring to read your posts and to see what brilliant progress Amanda is continuing to make.


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