As of today, her condition has not remarkably changed from my last report of January 29. She is in Spaulding Rehab (the acute rehabilitation hospital managed by Massachusetts General Hospital). Her mood remains good. Her personality is unchanged. Her memory of events is very good, from an event at age 7 to what happened yesterday. Her physical condition and muscle control are excellent. Physical rehab is no longer needed. She can carry on normal conversations, with some exceptions.
The difficult parts are speech and language, including numbers. Her work has been determined and helpful; and I believe that I will be able to assess progress when I get more directly involved in measuring her progress in a computer-based rehab program. As you know, her presenting injury was aphasia, which is why I rushed her to Mass General on January 15. When she finally overcame the massive pain caused by the pressure of blood and fluids on her brain, she started having conversations. To the casual visitor, she seems like herself. However, there are deficits in both input and output of language. She may not understand all that a visitor (or nurse) is saying to her. Sometimes (less each day) she has trouble finding the right words to express herself.
More dramatic (and of more concern to her) is her inability to recognize letters (in block form) and numbers. When she writes in script, she can generate sentences. When she started to have conversations on Jan. 18, I thought this would be a quick recovery. I did not initially notice (or believe) her lack of ability with letters and numbers. So, the injury is complicated. We still have not had the second MRI which is scheduled for Feb. 17. After the blood clears, they should be able to perform an initial assessment on the damage and speculate on the cause.
For the past year, I have been reading about brain plasticity – the ability of the brain to “rewire” itself after an injury. I therefore am confident that speech and language will return to normal after some months. Also, there is no age limit on one’s ability to rewire the brain. She can continue to improve for years, if needed.
Sherry returns home on February 12, and the second MRI is on Feb. 17. When she returns, we will have 24-access to nurses; and I will be working with the speech and language therapists to develop a daily therapy schedule. (I don’t know if that will be here at home, or whether we will need to travel for that therapy.)
Sherry doesn’t like to admit that she is making progress on speech and language (perhaps since so much work remains). But I know that on Jan. 18, she could not identify any letter in the alphabet. They were just lines and curves. As of today, she knows most letters. Not all the time but getting better. She must continue to repeat this therapy every day, get good meals, and at least 11 hours of sleep a day. (The speech therapy exhausts her.) So, my job is clear, and I am committed to it until she is fully recovered.
When I gain mastery of the computerized speech therapy, I will be better able to report on her progress.
Thanks to everyone for your cards, emails, and supportive environment. She cannot read the cards, but she opens every one of them, and I assist on reading. They are very much appreciated.