Finally, a significant improvement… grief

This week has been bittersweet.

The physio, with our agreement, has decided he has probably shown Amanda everything he can and now the rest is up to us.

She can walk.

Her walking has improved to the point she has now started to wear her Fitbit again and is aiming towards the recommended 10,000 steps a day we all should take. Today was nearly 4,000.

From nothing she has regained movement in her right hand.

There is still a long way to go. But while teaching her to use tongs to pick up oranges from a bowl might display technique, it bears no relation to using her hand in the real world. The physio has said the only way to continually improve is to use the hand for meaningful, functional  tasks. Amanda is now capable of controlling the basic movements  and only her own persistence and tenacity will fine -tune these.

He will return again in a month to assess how she is doing.


On Friday we received the  8 – page neuropsychological assessment report written by a senior clinic psychologist. I read it first before reading it aloud to Amanda. it summarised the results of two interviews and a series of tests completed over 45 minutes.

The results, in clear, but cold and (literally) clinical language highlighted Amanda’s strengths and weaknesses. Tellingly, on at least 3 occasions it alluded to the seriousness of her brain injury.

When I finished, Amanda was quietly weeping.

At last, and for the first time in 9 months she was finally expressing an emotion the psychologist had suggested had been gently ‘sandpapered’ away by the ’emotional blunting’ caused by the damage to her brain.

“I’m never going to get better am I?

I had to explain the report had just captured a moment in her recovery, 9 months on from her bleed, and reminded her how, earlier in the week the physio had told her that she would continue to improve physically.

We discussed the report again later, and again she cried.

“I’ve lost who I was and what I was able to do before.”

I thought for a moment and then I realised…

Finally, after all this time, she was grieving.

She was the last one left to cry about the situation she found herself in. The very thing which had caused her situation, had damaged the emotional capability to deal with it. But now, her brain had healed enough to allow her to open the floodgates and, as we had all already done, grieve for the person we had lost.

Perversely, the ability to express this emotion once more, proves she is still healing, and getting back to be the person she once was.

I told her about a Facebook post I had read where the writer was also upset  he had become a different person since his stroke. I had replied to him and said that most of us only get the chance to be one person in our lives. Stroke victims often get a second chance to be a diferent person. In Amanda’s case the canvas was almost wiped clean.

Halfway through the life of her physical body, her mind is getting a second chance, and she should sieze the opportunity to go in whatever direction it takes her.


As further evidence of improvement. she mentioned our son was going to a pet show today. I asked now she knew and she pointed to his Facebook post showing the poster advertising the event.

So I decided to test her.

“So where is it?” I asked, noting the location in the bottom corner of the poster.

“Not sure, it’s in Maori.” So now she can read Maori??

“Er – is Porirua a place?” Yes it is, and it was the venue for the pet show.

So she had read the poster, realised some of it was in Maori, and then successfully read a an unfamilar word aloud.





    1. Hi Brenda. I’m not certain where you’re from, but Amanda was initially treated by Wellington Hospital before being transferred home to Nelson. So the Nelson District Health Board have provided funding for physio, speech therapy occupational therapy and daily support care for 12 months. In addition they have paid for equipment ( handrails etc) and offered the extra services of a psychologist. If Amanda has to travel to Wellington to see the specialist, they also fund flights, taxi and accommodation for both of us.


  1. I suffered a hemorrhagic stroke on the left side of my brain/right side of my body at age 41 in April of this year. The blessing that I’m left handed is not lost on me since the right side has been so impacted.

    I’ve read your entire blog today and found so many similarities in my own experience. I lost the first month entirely and recovery has been slow but I’m not giving up. We don’t know the cause of my stroke, other than high blood pressure, which is odd because I’ve never had a problem with my blood pressure. Thank you for documenting your experience and sharing for us all to read! I’m in the U.S. and am lucky to have good health insurance that has allowed me to have continued physical therapy twice a week.


  2. Matt, you are an inspirational support person and one amazing husband! Your insight throughout this blog will be helping many, I’m sure. It’s certainly giving me a great depth of understanding and I thank you for that.


  3. I too suffered an AVM brain bleed on may 10 2016….

    Reading your blog has helped me cope with the fact that I will never be the same….
    I have recovered very well, still have numerous issues but I don’t need to fight to get through every day anymore .
    So thankfull for that. I have come to some sort of acceptance.
    Reading your blog, especially the first months has given me much needed pieces of my own puzzle. I have no memory of anything that happened at the time and your blog helped me understand how the first weeks must have been .
    So thank you very much for writing the blog !
    You are such a Hero the way you care for your beloved wife…

    Very similar to my own sweet wonderfull husband who stoof by my Side every step of the way…

    So gratefull we have guys like you taking care of us!

    Thank you!


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