Kate’s stroke occurred just over a month ago, and we are beginning to get a better idea of its more enduring effects. Her doctor is encouraged and thinks she may regain 80% of the abilities she had before. I think she has accomplished close to that right now. Almost every day, we see signs of improvement, so I’m not ready to say she has peaked.
After the first four days when she slept, we have gotten her out of bed every day except one or two. We only missed one week taking her to dinner in the dining room. We also added the afternoon visit to the café where she gets ice cream.
On the other hand, she is not like she used to be. That is reflected in several ways. Her energy level is much lower now. She has always been slow to get going in the morning, but she is sometimes like that until close to dinner though it is more typical that she perks up around three or four in the afternoon. Along with that, she seems to have more moments that trouble her on and off during the day.
She doesn’t talk as much. Previously, she would talk periodically during the day and even at night while she was sleeping. Since the stroke, she has had only a couple of moments like that. One of those occurred at dinner the other night. The caregiver and I were excited to see that. When she speaks, she often does so in a whisper that makes it hard to hear her. In addition, much of what she says is unintelligible.
In some ways, these changes are relatively minor. We were seeing signs of them before the stroke; however, the changes are more severe now. It makes me think of our visits with Ellen, Kate’s best friend, whose stroke left her with aphasia. We made monthly visits with her, and it became very difficult to understand her. Aphasia also requires much more of the person speaking. In Ellen’s case, she could acknowledge hearing what you said and partially convey what she wanted to say. Kate remains silent much of the time. I miss hearing her voice.
For a long time, our evenings have been the best part of the day. Now, she is very tired when we put her in bed and frequently sleeps through until the morning. I continue to play music videos on YouTube with the hope that she might wake up and enjoy them with me. Sometimes that happens, but, more often than not, it doesn’t.
Finally, she has more moments when she doesn’t appear to know me or feel comfortable with me. She just looks perplexed. I interpret these moments as times when she doesn’t know where she is, who she is with, or who she is.
I’ve always known this was coming, but it’s been doing so gradually. The stroke has brought about a more abrupt downturn.
Let me close on a positive note. We still experience Happy Moments. They are just fewer in number and shorter in duration. When they occur, they are very special and lift my spirits tremendously.