As I have noted in previous posts, Kate has made a good recovery from her stroke ten months ago. On the other hand, the stroke has had a lasting effect on her speech. Her aphasia is worse than before. That means I can’t understand most of what she says. My initial response was sadness for both of us. I felt it must be frustrating not to be able to communicate things she wanted to say, and I missed the kinds of conversations we used to have.
She began to experience aphasia a year or two before the stroke. At that time, she could tell that some things she said didn’t come out the way they should. She didn’t appear to feel frustrated, but she clearly knew that what she said wasn’t correct. Gradually, that disappeared. Now, she doesn’t display any sign of awareness that what she says doesn’t coincide with what she intends to say.
I never correct her. Instead, I act as though I understand every word and try to give her an appropriate response. Thus far, I can’t detect that she ever feels that I have misunderstood her. From the perspective of people watching us talk, I think we look like an ordinary couple having a conversation. If they could hear us, they might think both of us have mental problems.
In the last few months, Kate has grown more at ease with her surroundings and other people. That led to her talking more. Along with that, she sometimes says things that are very clear. They are always short reflexive comments to things that are said to her. During the past few days, she has made more clear comments than she has in the past couple of years.
I regret that I can’t remember many of the things Kate says, but I do sometimes jot them down right after they occur. Here are a few recent examples.
Yesterday (when we were having ice cream)
Resident (who saw me trying to help another resident with her phone): “What would we do without Richard to fix all our phones?”
Kate: “Yeah” and laughed.
At Home after Dinner
Caregiver (who had given Kate something to drink): “Did you have enough?”
Kate: “I suppose so.”
Few Minutes Later
Richard (after a comment by caregiver): “You’re giving (the caregiver) ideas.”
Kate: “I know it.”
Day Before Yesterday (Right after Finishing Ice Cream)
Kate to Caregiver: “Thank you for the party.”
Later at Dinner (Caregiver didn’t understand something Kate said)
Caregiver: “I don’t know.”
Kate: “She doesn’t even know.”
Caregiver: “I can’t go down my back doorsteps.”
Kate: “I can’t either.”
The caregiver and I laughed.
Kate to us: “You’re funny.”
Last Week (while having ice cream)
Richard to Kate: If you don’t like that, I’ll eat it.
Kate to Caregiver: “He would say that.”
Short Time Later (Caregiver had stepped away to get something for herself)
Caregiver: “I’m back.”
Kate: “I’m always glad to see you.”
Richard to Kate: “I spilled some water on the floor.”
Kate: “We’ll see about that.”
These things may seem trivial to some people, but at this point in Kate’s Alzheimer’s, they are treasures to me. They are signs that the girl I married is still with me. She hears what is said in her presence and reacts accordingly. Along with that, she is happy. Me, too.