This has been a week of contrasts.
On Thursday we had a 90 – minute initial home visit from the Jason the physiotherapist and Trudy the occupational therapist. They spent the time listening to both of us, looking around the house and discussing with Amanda what her goals are. She wasn’t entirely sure about this until it was gradually coaxed out of her:-
- Being able to read a book again
- Using a computer
- Using a smart phone
- Being able to bake cakes and make meals
- Re-aquiring her numeracy capability
- Returning to work
- Gaining full use of her right hand
- Improving her walking technique and distance
They made individual appointments to return next week so they can make a start on developing a detailed plan and Amanda can begin proper physio sessions for the first time since leaving hospital a month ago.
They left carrying the arm sling which can be returned to the hospital and the chair which we borrowed to allow Amanda to sit in the shower. Neither have been needed for the last month and their exit from the house is another small step forward.
On Friday we both went to our first meeting of a group of stroke sufferers, hosted by the local branch of the New Zealand Stroke Foundation.
There were 14 other people in the room. Amanda was the youngest and the most recent to have had a stroke. In many ways, despite the severity of her stroke, she was also the least affected/most improved amongst them.
We both decided, independently, that we probably won’t be going back.
When we discussed it afterwards we were both struck by the negativity and overall sense of resignation in the room. These people accepted their situation, yet resented it and, while talking helped them come to terms with, and share their experiences, overall they saw themselves as living with the effects, not recovering and continually improving.
The men in particular (and I’ve heard men take strokes far worse than women), came across bitter and angry.
I left with a sense of pride in Amanda’s attitude and positivity, and guilt that it seemed to have already given her an advantage over these people who clearly (in some cases) didn’t have the support, access to information and knowledge or personal self- awareness to take every opportunity to make each day better than the one before.
Or maybe they do. We’re all different.