My mom and I went into a stationary store to buy stamps this afternoon (I'm in NY the rest of this week -- going to a friend's wedding this weekend). "Oh, we're all sold out. A whole bunch of people came in and stocked up for the holiday." And we nodded and left... before realizing... wait a second, what are they talking about? Are people lighting stamps on fire? Mailing fireworks to each other? What is it about July 4th that requires stamps, in any way?
I saw my grandma this morning, for the first time since she moved back home and got the full-time aide -- I've been back in LA since the day before she got out of the rehab facility she was in for a couple of weeks post-hospital. I walked in and she leaped up and said, "we're going somewhere!" And I asked where we were going, and she started coming down the steps and said, "you'll see when we get outside." And so we get outside, and she whispered, "I don't care where we go, I just wanted to get out of the house and away from the aide for a little while! I'm not used to this, it's like I'm a baby, someone hovering over me all day!" And so we drove around the neighborhood for a few minutes and parked under a shady tree and just talked for about an hour and a half before I brought her back home. She's doing reasonably well in a lot of ways -- she's walking okay, she's talking without any problems, she's mentally sharp at least to an observer -- but she's frustrated because she can tell there's still some problems with her brain, her reading still hasn't come back (although she can sound things out, slowly, if she really makes the effort, and she can spell aloud if you ask her to spell something), and sometimes the TV is just a little too fast for her to get everything. She went to the senior center yesterday for the first time since the stroke, hoping it would be like things were back to normal, but she felt uncomfortable being there with the aide, and she didn't feel like she could really contribute to the class discussion -- it was her poetry class, I think -- she hadn't been able to write a poem, and things were moving a little too quick for her to really feel like she was getting anything out of it. And she's embarrassed to have all her friends, who know she had a stroke, acting differently around her and in some ways treating her like she's a sick person, but at the same time not really being able to tell anything is wrong with her because she's talking fine, and so they expect she'll be the same as she was, and she feels like she isn't... and so she said she really didn't have a very good time. She's going to see a geriatric psychiatrist next week, and she's looking forward to the appointment, because she wants to talk to people who understand what she's going through. We're trying to find her a stroke support group in the area, even though my mom is worried it'll depress my grandma since most of the people there will probably be in worse shape than she is. But even if they are, I think that might actually (sadly) help her feel better as she sees that she has a lot of capabilities that other people in her situation don't. In any case, I think she's doing okay all things considered -- she's still pretty down about the whole thing, and bored sitting in the house all day, and doesn't like having to have an aide with her wherever she goes (and I've been encouraging my mom to go over there and take her for little trips without the aide, to give both of them a break from each other), and hasn't found a new routine yet (I suggested maybe volunteering at an animal shelter, but she didn't seem too excited about that idea), but I think she's slowly improving and feeling like she's doing ok overall.