105 Ways to Give a Book

Update on a Stroke in the Family

Three months ago my mother had a stroke. She was lucky in that her impairment wasn’t severe, and physically she recovered quickly. To be more accurate, her body excluding her brain recovered quickly. Her brain relearned some things within a week; many other things are still behind a locked door. She struggles to read and comprehend more than a paragraph. She mixes up numbers, can’t do any math, and forgets the time. She can get confused in new situations, and in those times her speech also loses some coherence. There remain a number of surprises as we learn some new, discrete impairment.

This weekend offered one of those moments. My mom came up to see my tween in her summer musical theatre performance, where she was featured in several numbers and had the Maria solo in “I Feel Pretty.” The logistics of the travel arrangements weren’t easy, but it was very important to my mom that she make it to this show, so we made it happen. My daughter gave a wonderful performance, both in dancing for songs from Hairspray and in her solo. I wasn’t sitting next to my mom, but she seemed to be enjoying the show. It wasn’t until the end that she shared that she hadn’t recognized her granddaughter during her solo. She was light about it, but it broke my heart. She came all the way here to see my daughter perform, and then didn’t realize that was what she was seeing. I tried to make sense of it — because certainly she recognizes us — and came to the conclusion that with the costumes, and without the context of a familiar setting, her stroke-impaired brain couldn’t make the connection between the lovely singer and her own granddaughter.

These are the times when I understand how much has been lost, and how surprising some of the losses are. Also that I began to worry about what is still in store. One of the findings from all the brain scans was a benign tumor that is pressing on her optic nerve and other sensitive areas. Surgery looks likely, but is tricky and possibly dangerous. One of the hardest parts is that it may fall to me to make or at least to finalize some of the decisions, because this kind of problem solving is exactly where my mom struggles. It’s scary.

I’ve found some help and comfort in My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., and am talking about the book in a separate post for NonFiction Monday here.

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web said...

I'm so sorry; that must be so painful for everyone.

tanita✿davis said...

Oh, MR - that's so hard, I know. I've been turned into the "minister's wife" to my grandma, and apparently D. is the minister? Context is all, sometimes -- because I'm a visitor to my parent's home, that's who I've become. Otherwise, my grandma knows who I am.

Strokes do such weird things.

The nice thing is that she can watch a video of the same performance, and enjoy it all over again - this time knowing who she is watching, and feeling the pride all over again, with your daughter next to her.

Buffy said...

I'm glad you are sharing this here, MR.

Stephanie said...

I am sorry -- I can only imagine how painful it is to watch your mom go through this.

Peaceful Reader said...

I am so sorry to hear about your mother. I hope things improve. I'm glad you found a book to help you through this difficult time.

laurasalas said...

Hugs to you, MR. She's seeing the world in a whole new way. How scary. I hope there are a few lovely moments to outweigh the sad ones.

Sandra Stiles said...

I am sorry you are going through this. I've been through it with my mother. She's had 3 strokes. She remembers none of my childhood. She now lives with my husband and I. I will lift you and your family in prayer.