Constructing Meaning

I haven’t had the time to see Louise the past couple of days because of commitments made months ago. When I saw her this morning she was sleeping, still in her clothes from yesterday. I didn’t ask why that was, because I knew she wouldn’t know why. She brightened when she opened her eyes and gave me a big smile. She told me something is wrong and she doesn’t know where she is. When I told her the story, she was once again shocked that she has been in a “hotel” for two weeks. She seemed just as confused as the last time I saw her, only she is beginning to know she is confused, if that makes sense. Before you could tell her she was in the hospital and she would be surprised, but then go right on with whatever she was doing before. Now she is asking a lot of questions and is surprised at every answer. I told her that since her brain surgery she had been doing very well until the seizures happened. She had no idea she had brain surgery or a tumor. She seems to really be trying to take in the whole thing, but then she said, “I have so many questions, but I won’t remember the answers after you leave.” Now all this may sound hopeless, but I can still see forward progress. Her brain is trying to construct meaning. It cannot put things together, but it is trying. She is questioning and she has realized that she won’t remember what happened. That is also progress. She knows that she won’t know it tomorrow.
I told her Bill was just like this after his accident and she was shocked that he had an accident. I had to explain that to her too. That is the first indication I have seen that she doesn’t remember the long term past. I told her I saw an old friend who lived in the cabin years ago, after the tornado. She didn’t remember the tornado, but she was trying. You could see the wheels turning, just no connection for her to hang that information on. While that is concerning to me, it is also familiar, because Bill had huge lapses like that. He still doesn’t remember any of that time of his recovery. His took probably two years or more…so it is slow going…trust me on that. One day I could see forward progress, the next was two steps back. It is the steady uphill climb that you have to focus on. One day is completely different from the next, but remarkably the same. Sounds impossible, I know. Hard to describe really, unless you have lived it day in and day out. I have lived it…for years. It is hard. It is unpredictable, but I have learned some things to watch for and I am still seeing some of them with Louise. I am not a medical doctor so I cannot tell you why she is not coming back faster, or why her memory is affected, or when things will turn around, or if they will turn around. Honestly, I don’t think they could answer those questions either. I CAN tell you what I see that is good. She is trying to construct meaning. She has figured out something is wrong. She remembered today that she had a haircut yesterday. That is forward…tiny steps…but forward just the same.
One thing that is just like Bill, she wants to go home. She says it over and over when Ray comes to see her…somehow she thinks if she could just get there things would be normal. Bill was just like that. When I came to see him, he thought of home, because to him I was his home. However, when he came home he didn’t remember a lot. Some things, but not everything like he had hoped…like I had hoped. It wasn’t the magic fix. I had to re-teach him mostly everything about our home…where the bedroom was, how to use the shower, where his clothes were in the closet. Even so, I do think that some familiar is better than waking up to a strange place every day. I think in a home environment chances are higher that recovery will come faster than laying in a bed with a bed alarm all day. There will be a meeting on Tuesday to review Louise’s progress. Decisions as to her treatment and care will be made. Please pray for clarity and for just the right options that fit this circumstance. I know there are many out there from home health, to sitters, to assisted living. We want to honor her wishes without putting her in danger, or having Ray overly burdened with the physical demands of her care. We want her to recover as much as is possible. We want the right place that is conducive to that kind of healing. Thanks for your prayers in this matter.

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