Amanda recently had to have surgery for something not linked to her stroke in any way and she wishes to keep private. But it highlighted two things.
Firstly, she had to have a blood test. The doctor suggested using her affected right arm as she wouldn’t feel the needle. But she clearly did. We discussed it afterwards and came to the conclusion she actually has quite a bit of feeling in her right arm. The issue with it is spatial awareness.
So, whereas a non-affected person is able to look at an object, then turn away and still reach out and touch it, in Amanda’s case she has no idea where her arm is, in space. She gets no feedback as to its position or location, unless she is actually looking at it and using purely visual clues.
This lack of spatial awareness, which extends pretty much across the whole of the right hand side of her body, is what limits movement and confidence in walking or grasping objects. This is something else we can work on.
A week before her surgery, the anaesthetist asked her to stop taking Voluntastrols as a purely precautionary measure as he was not personally familiar with their effects. I thought that might allow me a few days to gauge whether or not this would make any difference. But it was difficult to tell if her slight drop in mood was simply pre-surgery anxiety or something else. Post -surgery she is now back to taking them regularly and coupled with the obvious relief the surgery is behind her, she is back to her usual positive and motivated self.
I joked with her that at least she wasn’t one of those people who emerged from a brain injury with the ability to speak another language or speak in a foreign accent.
“Imagine if you suddenly sounded Welsh!”
“I wouldn’t mind that.”
Then I remembered.. Amanda is half Welsh.
This week, with assistance from her support worker, Amanda decorated the Christmas tree; the second time she has done this since her stroke. This time around the support worker commented on how Amanda remembered exactly where everything should go. This re-enforced her ability to use her long term memory, whereas earlier today she could not remember the number ‘45’ from a brief conversation just 2 minutes previously.
Also, in a step up from last Christmas, she wrote all our Christmas cards – slowly and following a written prompt, but it was an advance on 12 months ago.
Word recognition is still sometimes an issue. With today being our first hot summer day, we had all the windows open. She called out asking me to get rid of a wasp which had flown in. Not a ‘thing’ or a ‘fly’, but very specifically a ‘wasp’ which was barely visible as one, from where she was sitting. On the other hand, as the warmer weather started she told me she no longer wanted to wear ‘long sleeve trousers’ a perfect description of the opposite of ‘shorts’!
Finally, her support worker writes regular notes in a book to let me know what Amanda has done or accomplished on a daily basis. Last week she wrote;
“One of the answers on her quiz show (The Chase) was ‘Elephant’. Amanda broke into a wee French song about an elephant!”
I had never heard it, so she repeated it (in French). She insisted it was not from her Girl Guiding days or from school.
Maybe I was wrong about being able to randomly speak a foreign language after a stroke?