Needing to update

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.

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Shower bench

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.

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One Comment on “Needing to update

  1. That actually sounds an amazing amount like what happens to your mom. She is an overly honest person, but you can’t trust her memories because they may have been dreams, something someone told her or reality. She doesn’t know the difference most of the time and constantly repeats herself or says things that just don’t make sense out loud. It took me a few years to realize most of the time when she laughs it’s not because when I point those things out she actually thinks it’s funny, but more of a nervous laugh or an embarrassed laugh, like I can’t believe I actually said that. I try not to point them out anymore now that I know that. I hope you have people in your life you can be fully honest with and they can help fill your timeline. I didn’t know you for such a long time so my pre 2007 memories are an accumulation of all the childhood stories I’ve heard from all of you. If you need to I have banner paper we could unroll and literally make you a timeline so you could visually see how things fit together. Not sure what kind of learner you are anymore, but let me know if you want to do that

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