Adam and I spent the next two weeks figuring out what I would and wouldn’t need help with. Neither of us would have guessed that it would be more than half a year before I would be able to get around without help or some level of supervision. Until then, life would be a series of daily annoyances and guessing games.
Showering turned out to be what I needed the most help with. A shower bench had been ordered prior to my discharge.
The slick tile, bathroom rug, and my diminished balance combined made a simple task take the shape of a massive gully with no way across except for a rickety footbridge. My right hand still didn’t work properly, so I tended to drop things very easily. Anna had shown me some of what to expect while showering, but nothing could have prepared me for the new fact that taking a shower was suddenly a very dangerous thing for me. Everything had become so difficult. My main daily priority was quickly becoming simply staying upright. I was still in the wheelchair and had to figure out ways of getting around; my right hand couldn’t grip the wheel of my chair to propel myself, so I had to use my heels to move the along.
While I was still in inpatient, I would practice with my chair in the hallway of the stroke ward. I only ever made it once around the ward before my legs would decide that they had simply had enough, whether I told them to go a little further or not. Because of my lack of stamina, and the fact that I wasn’t entirely ‘there’ yet, I had to be accompanied any time I left the apartment. By ‘there’ I mean that I would say some pretty off-the-wall things, ramble off-topic, and forget things I had just said.
I could tell Adam something and repeat it several times immediately after telling him, without realizing that I was repeating myself. To me, nothing had changed cognitively. I knew that I spoke slowly and sounded funny, but to me, that was it. In reality, I was easily confused, slow to respond, easily forgot things, and couldn’t keep my own timeline straight.
By that I mean that I had somehow begun to remember things out of order. The most obvious example is that my memory of my own life had become a bit scrambled. I mostly had difficulty keeping my own timeline in order. When trying to remember the sequence of events in my life, I would often skip entire years. To me, the sequence would feel right, but just wouldn’t make logical sense. For example, a memory from age 12 would be followed by one from age 18. I once texted Adam #2 about a former co-worker’s going away party, thinking that the party had been a few days before the stroke when it had actually been 2+ years before.
In all, my short and long-term memory had been scrambled, my speech was slow and slurred, I had huge difficulties speaking while upset, frequently became confused or lost my focus, had to think through simple movements step-by-step (such as lifting a cup), had difficulty looking at people’s eyes (I would look at the corner of the eye, waterline, or bridge of the nose instead), had a right visual field cut (the right halves of my eyes didn’t work), and couldn’t function if I didn’t count something (like letters in a sentence while it was being said). It was as though I were a server that had had its files moved to the wrong folders after a system restore. I just needed to find a way to sort out all those files.