Turning Corners

October 6, 2011

Family, Health, Mike

I have to wonder if we’ve turned another corner in recovery.  Memory is still not really better.  However, yesterday I noticed pieces of old personality returned…or were returning.  Not the best pieces either!  Enroute to speech therapy and his visit with the neuropsychologist, Mike argued with me endlessly about how it was most certainly not Wednesday.  And after asking where we were going numerous times, finally got very angry with me because he felt that neither was doing any good to prepare him for anything and since I was the one to have gotten him into this I was the one to be angry with and his anger was eminently justifiable  when he does not need this and all he needs to know is the date, day and time better.  Forget my explanation that they work on ways to be better oriented three days a week in therapy for the last 12 weeks and I do it seven days a week with him.  Forget that he fundamentally knows that his memory is deficient and his brain, to quote him, is “half shot”.  He can’t remember any of that.  But his mean spirited comments made me cry…which made him laugh since I “don’t normally cry”.  When informed he needed to advise his therapists of this, not me, and he could make the decision not to attend further therapy at any time he pleased, he agreed he would do just that.  Off we go into therapy where he is all smiles and feeling good and things are going good.  Apparently he had forgotten his intentions.  Well.  I’d about had it with this kind of stuff so I called a time out in speech therapy where I reviewed with he and his therapist his current lack of enthusiasm for therapy.   They worked through it…but she was treated to his arguments about how it could not possibly be Wednesday in spite of the evidence presented.  This has been something he has reserved for me in the past.  So at least she got to experience it instead of potentially thinking I make this stuff up since he is so agreeable in therapy sessions!  She also made him aware of the very poor prognosis somebody with the type and severity of injury has…and went over with him the many, many ways in which he has far surpassed the normal prognosis early on in recovery.  I think it is hard for him to connect to that since he has no memory of when he couldn’t move or couldn’t talk or couldn’t recognize anybody at all!

Off we went to the neuropsychologist…who I also filled in on his issues.  He, too, explained that Mike didn’t have to be there if he didn’t want to be and asked him ultimately what he hoped to improve.  Right now date/day/time.  So the neuropsychologist gave him missions.  I also brought up his worries…about the future with his help and his marriage based on his fears that his injury might make him not good enough for me and I’d leave.  No amount of my reassurances has helped to put that to rest.  The doc spoke to him about this for a bit.  They cemented the deal that there was an agreeable strategy in place to working out how to resolve day/date/time.  He also told us that this fear of the future is definitely evidence of higher order thinking taking place…something which has been dramatically affected by the anoxic injury.  We left.  The rest of the day was pretty agreeable.  Oddly enough I saw more and more tiny facets of his old attitudes, mannerisms, personality showing through the brain injury fog.

Somehow, I think this must have all been beneficial and sunk in.  Ordinarily Mike has restless nights.  He’s up every two hours like clockwork to head to the restroom.  I know this because it awakens me as well, and requires me to put his cpap mask back on him and get him covered up and tucked in again.  Last night he slept peacefully….all night long and didn’t budge between 11:30 when he went to bed until 7:45 this morning.  I wish I could say I slept as soundly.

My inner alarm clock, set for two hour intervals had me awake on schedule all night long.  I found myself watching him breathe, feeling like a new mother again.  Was he breathing?  Was his breathing normal?  Did he have a fever?  Was his pulse ok?  Sheesh!  All systems were normal appearing…yet I fretted over these things every two hours.  While he slept.  Blissfully unaware of my angst or my ministrations.

I’m thinking between the higher order thinking and the blissful sleep some corner must have been turned.  It seems to have been preceded by what I thought were a week or so of losing ground.  I mean, I know there’s only continent and incontinent…and mistakes or accidents put you in the latter category to some degree.  And we were there to the point of wearing briefs again.  In retrospect, it seems it was tied to a change in attention…from an inability to focus on things to a state of hyperfocus on things…which precluded recognizing nature’s call at times.  Perhaps the periods of corner turning are preceded by some loss of ground in most cases.  Now, if only we could see memory improve.  He would still have a significant deficit…but I think it would move itself up from moderate-severe to mild-moderate.  I remain hopeful.

Meanwhile, today is the day we visit the pulmonologist to investigate the 50% reduction in airway (a result from the intubation I hear), his cough that doesn’t quit, and the finding of underlying COPD on his CT’s from the hospital.  I guess there will be spirometry at least.  And an argument about why he even needs to go there in the first place.  SIGH.

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