Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday December 11 - Memory Games

Today was a busy day. I’m looking forward to the weekend and the Christmas break. I feel like a mama bear … I just want to hibernate with you and the children.

Today, I first had the oil change on your car, then to work only to find out there is more illness. This time it looks a little like a flu bug. I manage to get away from work early and get much needed groceries. Then I visited you for about 40 min then off to collect Tara from choir practice and feed her and deliver her to ukulele practice then off to the Christmas play that both Tara and Quinn are in. Finally we visit you and Tara and Quinn bring you up to date on their lives. We get home at ten and off to bed.

The past few years, I have had mixed feelings about the Christmas season. I refuse to get caught up in the consumer frenzy but somehow over the last few years I have got caught up in the activity rush. All the concerts and Christmas parties and special Christmas social things make the first half of the month of December a little crazy. This year is no different.

I crave a lazy day with no commitments to be anywhere. A lazy week would be better. Sleep in and stay in pajamas until lunch and play games, walk Annie and just … just be. Be with you and the children. This is no longer a dream, this will be a reality! In just thirteen more sleeps – it will happen. All of it will happen except maybe the stay in my pajamas until lunch – we don’t keep the house warm enough for that. My Christmas wish will come true.

You call me at work this morning. You are frustrated that you can’t remember things. Your 'before stroke' (BS for short)memory is excellent. You haven’t forgotten anything that I can detect. You amaze people continuously with your memory for your last conversations with them even if it was six months BS.

You memory of things and names after the stroke is what is frustrating you. It starts with very little memory of you time spent at the QE2 in Halifax. It continues each day. You are always asking the nurses their names and asking if they are married. You might ask the same nurse these questions once or twice a day and again on the next day. You are feeling stupid. You are not stupid. You are brain injured. There is a big difference.

The other day I started a memory game with you. I have tried to continue it each day. Today, the memory challenge is to remember Kerry’s (who is on maternity leave from my work) names of her children. I told you their names in the morning and said try to remember them for when I come to visit.

The names are: Haillee and Connor. I explain that Connor, the new baby, was going to be called Carter initially but Connor seemed like a better name when he was born so that is what it is now. You repeated “Connor, as in: Connor Larkin, a main character from a book called Redemption” (by Leon Uris)? I am stunned. I know that it was at least ten years ago that you read that book and yet that is the first reference point you pick out your head to remember Connor’s name. Haillee’s name should be easy, since you have met her BS. Connor has born shortly after Farley so you have never met him.

After work, I stopped in to visit you for a short time. I noticed that you can scan much better to your left as I walked in the door. When you were first moved to the Colchester Hospital, you didn’t acknowledge anyone until they walked into your room, well past the middle of the bed. You didn’t know you had a left-sided blind spot so you didn’t compensate for it. Now you are starting too. This is largely thanks to the room setup – with the door and the TV on your left, you have little choice but to consciously pay attention to the left. This is a good thing.

You were enthusiastic about your physio session today. You are even feel OK about getting into your chair. Pain is a deterrent but when the pain isn’t too bad, you try to tough it out.

Just before we leave, I ask you if you remember the names of Kerry’s children. You don’t want to play the game. I push you a little harder. “If you don’t exercise the memory muscles now, you never get them back.” After a moment of thought you say “Haille” but you are stuck on Connor’s name. I give a hint. I didn’t want to give a hint that referenced the memory from a BS thought so I said “They were going to call him Carter.” “Connor” You replied proudly.

Even though you are not going to rehab for six weeks or so, I think we can find many things to work on in the meantime that will position you better to get the most out of rehab when you do get there.

The mobility loss is the most obvious loss. When you are home for Christmas, we won’t be able to work on that as much, but we can work on other things. There are other gaps that can be nurtured back to wholeness. The occupational therapist has given us ideas of ways to work on some of you deficiencies. We just have to think about how to help you fill in the gaps.

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