And so this is Christmas…

Christmas 2017 was always going to be… different.

Christmas in New Zealand coincides with the main summer holiday break. Having emigrated from the UK, the novelty of a summer Christmas has still not worn off even 15 years later. So this year, like most others, we have stayed at home and convinced ourselves we are ‘away’ on holiday.

As the weather has warmed, Amanda has continued to improve and so has her ‘executive functioning’ capacity; the set of processes that all have to do with managing ourselves and our resources in order to achieve a goal.

Basic stuff like personal hygiene and simple food and drink preparation has slowly expanded, and the approach of Christmas has helped to drive that improvement.

In previous years Amanda has mostly planned our Christmas week menu, purchased and wrapped the presents, written and sent the cards and prepared much of the food.

This year, after 30+ years of apprenticeship, it was my turn.

Amanda’s attitude to Christmas this year has also been… different:- She is fully aware of it, participates and enjoys it and helps out when asked. But this year she displays no concept of how it all actually happens. Luckily having had 2 children and noted the similarities between recovering from a brain injury and childhood development, I had anticipated this

But there are sparks.

She questioned if I had sent cards to all the usual people and continues to remember where items which are only used at this time of year have been stored for the past 12 months. She checked I had bought presents for people and what these where and she certainly understands she has lost a vital set of skills, at least temporarily.

For the first time this week, when she saw on Facebook that it was a friend’s birthday. She sent her a birthday message, carefully typing out ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’.

Yesterday we went to the mall to collect Amanda’s new glasses. So far she has wanted to leave for home after only a short while, overwhelmed by the sensory overload. But this time, she wanted to go for a wander around (bearing in mind the sales are in full swing).

She headed for a clothes store, two in fact, and eventually found a new top she liked.


It turned out she fully intended to do all of this, but didn’t think to tell me. In other circumstances why would she? after all, executive function just happens. If we need to discuss it, or justify it, or ask permission then we cease to be individual.


Thank you all for reading,  sometimes commenting, and generally supporting us on this weird, unplanned and eventful journey so far. I read out all your comments to Amanda and she is always bemused but grateful that complete strangers take time to check on how she is doing each week.

See you in 2018…

amanda beach (2)


  1. Sensory overload intrigues me. For years I have wondered if a change of glasses, or hearing aids, puts pressure on the brain , esp an injured one.


  2. Dear Amanda and Matt,
    I have just discovered this blog and wish you both a very happy 2018. I’m sure Amanda’s Amazing Brain will continue to astound you . I have worked with people who have had strokes for 29 years and can attest to ongoing recovery well beyond the mythical 6 months period. You both have a great attitude towards this change and each other. Most importantly, enjoy your time.


  3. A great recovery story, always improving.
    My wife after 25 months is still improving every day…just a little stronger and more and more Nero Plasticity improvements. We start each day with an active regime, of muscle toning….
    Keep working at improving and as my wife’s attitude is Never Give Up!!!

    It’s just a little cold here today, -28c… don’t get sunburnt.

    Wild Bill and Sandra


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