I am mindful that my previous post was not as upbeat as usual, but I do believe it was an accurate portrayal of our situation at the time. Since then, Kate has been pretty much the same except that we’ve had more bright spots. Here are some of the positive signs that have occurred in the past week or so.
Although Kate is still not speaking much, she has surprised us on a number of occasions. Sometimes that has occurred with the caregiver and me, but it has also happened with other residents when we are out for ice cream or dinner. I don’t think I’ve heard her say more than three or four words at a time; however, it’s been exciting to hear her. It clearly communicates that she has understood what has been said to her and that she has responded appropriately.
Two nights ago, I was getting something to drink when a resident who was on the way back to his apartment asked if he could stop by our table and say hello to Kate. I told him that would be fine, but that she might not respond. He later told me she said, “Hello.” Our caregiver also told me that another person had spoken to her and she responded to him as well.
Music continues to play an important role in our lives. One night after dinner, I played an album of The Kingston Trio. She smiled and moved her head in rhythm to the music. I started singing along, and she tried to mouth the words as best she could. The best part came when they sang “M.T.A.” I wasn’t sure she would understand, but I explained the storyline to her. As we sang together, she broke into laughter. She must have understood more than I expected.
We had a touch of spring last week. That gave us an opportunity to sit on the balcony after dinner. I took my phone and a small speaker with us and played an album of The Carpenters’ hits. She was engaged for almost fifty minutes. For a good part of that time, we held hands as her facial expressions communicated how much she was enjoying the music. Moments like this are very special because she hasn’t expressed much emotion since her stroke seven weeks ago.
She has also responded to several things I have read to her. One of those is The Velveteen Rabbit. Another is a letter written by her grandfather to her grandmother on their 40th wedding anniversary. One other is a resolution given to her by our church celebrating her 19 years of service as our volunteer church librarian. These things may not seem so special, but they let me know that the Kate I have known so long is still with me.
She sleeps more in the morning and goes to sleep earlier at night. That leaves us with less quality time together. She experiences longer periods of time when she is awake but doesn’t respond to anything I say or seem to recognize me. Because of that, I was delighted yesterday when the caregiver told me that, “out of the blue,” Kate said, “Where’s my husband?” Life is not the same, but we’re adapting.