I am relieved to be able to say that I'm pretty sure my next post won't need to be about my grandma, because things have stabilized to a point where I'm starting to resume thinking about and doing other things in addition to worrying about this stuff, which is good. The last couple of days have shown real progress -- her reading and writing are starting to come back a little bit, she's seeming more and more like herself, and she'll probably be moved to an inpatient physical therapy setting in the next couple of days, with the plan right now looking like she'll end up being functional enough to go back home, although she'll probably need a full-time nurse/aide with her, at least for now. But she's up and walking, her appetite's been good, she's talking to friends on the phone, and to someone who doesn't know her that well, she can probably pass for someone who didn't just have a stroke last week -- which, for someone her age, makes her pretty darn lucky. She continues to be extremely self-aware about what's going on, and very good about articulating how her brain is working -- which has made this all, if I take a bit of a detached perspective, pretty fascinating from an intellectual perspective. Basically, when she's in control of the conversation, and she can pick her words, any deficits are pretty much imperceptible -- but when asked for the name of an object, or a specific question that requires an instant answer, she can't retrieve the word. I was telling her, actually, I feel like I know just what she means, because it doesn't sound terribly dissimilar in some ways to when I stutter -- I've written about this before -- but basically, normal conversation or when I'm fully comfortable I'm completely fluent, but when there's pressure on saying a specific word at a specific time, when I can't work around it, when I'm locked into the word choice, then I'll sometimes freeze up on it and I can't get the word out right away. So, for her it's a different place in the pathway -- it's the brain not being able to access the word instead of just the voice not being able to spit it out -- but it's sort of the same thing in practice. She's also been very zen about all of this happening -- on one level it's a bit of a mystery to her how it could all have happened so quickly, her brain working perfectly fine last Tuesday morning, and then by the evening she was in the hospital, but on another level as she's gotten back to herself she's started to talk about how she's realizing the scope of the impact, what she can and can't do, and she can deal with it -- she can still do a lot of things, she can still live an active life, she can still have meaningful relationships. So if she can't take the bus on her own, so if she can't see as clearly as before -- the right side of her field of vision has definitely been affected although it's not completely obvious yet to what extent -- so if she can't remember everything she wants to say as quickly as she could before, she understands, she's 92 years old, and she can adjust. Which is a big change from the morning after the stroke, when she wished the whole thing had just taken her life completely. But today she was like, "Okay, so I'll get out of here in the next few days, I'll go to physical therapy, and then when I go home, we can hire a nurse and I'll find a new routine." She's had a couple of one-on-one nurses in the hospital, and she likes one of them very much -- and this nurse has said she'd be interested in private care once my grandma goes home, if we're interested in her -- and so that may work itself out pretty easily. They're getting along well, she enjoys talking to my grandma, my grandma enjoys talking to her and finds her "unusually competent" (her words :), so it seems like it may be a good match.
Pointless digression -- It strikes me -- never, ever having thought about this before -- that finding a home health aide is probably a lot like finding a nanny -- you need to match personality, find someone who the "patient" likes and will listen to, and at the same time there's some sense of loss, in that this person will become a bigger part of the child's life or the elder's life than you'd ideally want a stranger to be -- yet it becomes the best option when no one can really devote themselves to full-time care. That said, I suppose the stigma -- and not being in that situation, I can't possibly pass judgment on whether it's a rightful stigma or not -- that comes with having a nanny raise your children doesn't really come into play when it's an aide helping care for a grandmother.
In any case, for now a bit of a sigh of relief, as she seems to be stable and getting better and I can blog about tonight's episode of Top Chef with a clear head, and return to feeling guilty about lack of progress on a law school pilot script I've been playing around with, and that I have an awesome outline for, that I'm really happy with, but yet for whatever reason I can't get myself excited to write.