I will not be reading today’s post to Corey but had to share what I believe is new cognitive progress.
Corey truly hates having “helpers”…that’s the new word she chose instead of nurses (she despises that title). She wants to be a “normal” girl and be in the house with just me. I am working with her on understanding Independence and working to wean her from always relying on me. Corey panics when we use that word b/c in her mind it means I’m leaving her and she will be alone, yet she wants to be alone.
It’s challenging to reteach the concept of autonomy and independence, especially when there is anxiety and fear that overshadows the lesson, then add in memory loss. We try to use the same description, utilizing the same words each time we reintroduce the concept.
This morning as I was dressing to leave for an appointment, I heard the usual temper tantrum in the kitchen from Corey directed at Denise. Corey did not want me to leave and did not want to be left alone with Denise. Denise had never worked with Traumatic Brain Injury prior to working our case…(talk about baptism with fire). She is a quick study! In the beginning, she was convinced Corey did not like her. What took the greatest time to overcome was her understanding Corey has severe short term memory loss. What we tell her is forgotten within minutes of her receiving it. Once Denise realized Corey’s outbursts were not truly directed at her and that she wouldn’t remember they occurred minutes after they were over, Denise knew what to do and how to handle it. (She’s also the mother of four…ages 15-10…she’s used to being in the trenches!)
Today Corey was in full scream, kick and yell mode. When I came down, Denise announced that she and Corey have agreed on an arrangement. Corey was sitting quietly but obviously still furious and wearing “the face”. She was turned away from Denise.
M – Great! What’s the arrangement Corey?
C – (never turning her head to acknowledge either of us), she stated, “I’m going to practice being alone”
D – If Corey wants to go to the bathroom, she can get up and use the walker to go to the bathroom. If she’s hungry, she can get up and make her own lunch. I will only help if she gets stuck and asks for my help. Other then that, she”ll practice being on her own.
M – Great idea! So does that mean you will sit here in silence all day or do you want the radio on while you’re alone?
C – (Using a sarcastic tone of voice) obviously I can see Denise is in the same room so I won’t be totally alone!
M – Brilliant and Astute! I think this is going to be a good day to practice independence knowing Denise is here as backup if you need her.
How great is Denise?
Corey did in fact get up with little assistance, used the walker to get around the house. She emptied the dishwasher, made her own lunch (egg salad – peeled, sliced and mixed independently) stood at the sink and did her lunch dishes and folded a load of laundry. She also made an apple crumb cake…we have to find less tempting cooking activities! The ladies had a good day together.
Corey is making many strides beyond the physical achievements. The cognitive, emotional and behavioral improvements are much slower but they are happening. Someone once told me a survivors cognitive improvement is like Swiss cheese…depending on the day you might get more holes then cheese, but savor the flavor every time you get a bite of the cheese.
When Corey gets upset and lashes out, she seems so present. I speak to her as an adult, treat her as an adult, explain why her behavior is not appropriate, she eventually comes off the ledge and has no memory of what we just discussed. I am consistently surprised when Corey explains, “I’m sorry mom, I don’t even know what I did”. That being said, every once in awhile, in moments of clarity when we are having the same discussion for the 40th time, she will repeat one of the mantra’s we use to explain how she needs to respond and not react. Its a sign that she is in fact hearing me AND retaining what is being retaught. In that minute, I feel like we are balancing on the cheese instead of falling into one of the holes, xoxo
Time, patience, breathe, release, regroup, respond, don’t react, breathe, stick to the script, reinforce, be confident, be calm, breathe, breathe, breathe….never give up, never give in, matter of time, ready…here we go again…