Amanda’s aphasia continues to play tricks with her brain even as recovery continues. But she is winning the battle.
Each morning she takes 2 Voluntastrols capsules; opened and sprinkled over hot porridge with trim milk and manuka honey.
It’s still hard to believe the active ingredients in these capsules; 1000mg of what looks like vacuum cleaner dust is actually working its way into her system, and up into her brain. They seem to be not only assisting with mood and emotion, helping her to start the day off with the right attitude, but also activating the tiny pathways which support neuro plasticity and possibly helping her brain sort out the jumble of memories, thoughts and a lifetime of details and putting them back into the right folder and back on the right shelf in her brain library.
Over 18 months post-stroke she continues to defy the concept of the ‘plateau effect’.
Most mornings she uses the Constant Therapy app on her ipad. It takes a few minutes for her brain to get ‘in the zone’. One of the biggest challenges still remains reading aloud. The first sentence this week read:-
The Weatherman predicts the forecast.
“No, it can’t be ‘A’ – There is more than one letter.”
Amanda then identified each letter from her alphabet chart and by the time she got to the last one had forgotten the first one, so I prompted. After a few moments
“Yes! Next word…?”
“The…Weatherman…predicts the …forecast.”
“Correct. How the heck did you just go from 2 minutes getting ‘the’ to the rest of the sentence without a pause?”
“I have no idea.”
The following video shows how Amanda uses ‘air writing’ while using the Constant Therapy app to remind herself how letters are written. This then helps her brain recall the shape and hence identify the correct symbol
There have also been other improvements in the past 3 weeks, not just linguistically.
One morning last week we ran out of milk for breakfast. Amanda was in the shower. For the first time since she was discharged from hospital in May last year, I felt confident in jumping in the car, driving to the shop and coming back. It took less than 10 minutes. But I came home and she fine. That was a small leap of faith I had been waiting for.
Amanda also wandered into the kitchen asking if I needed any help cooking dinner. Once a week she is also doing simple biscuit baking with her support worker.
One of the lingering effects of her stoke has been her retrograde amnesia. She could not remember, among other things, Christmas 2016; 5 weeks before her stroke.
On Saturday we were talking to our son and the subject came up. Without prompting she remembered who came for Christmas and where we went for Christmas dinner. To date, she has not been able to remember any of that.
It proved my ongoing theory that she has never actually lost her memories. She had just forgotten where she had quickly hidden them when the stroke happened.
I make sure Amanda comes with me on a weekly visit to the local supermarket. Initially the whole experience was slightly bewildering and over –stimulating, even at the quieter time of early on Wednesday evening.
Last week I left her to retrace my steps back to the chiller section. When I returned she had moved on, for the first time on her own, to get the next item on the list. After more than a year – another first.
As a very quick test today I asked her, without warning;
“What’s your address?”
She told me straight away
“Date of birth?”
The book with all that information sounds like it’s firmly back on the shelf.