Corey has begun a new cycle of change. We have been going down to work with her DC team, working with a new neuro-psychologist in Philly and continue at Bryn Mawr for out-patient therapy.
1. Medications; Dr. K is very pleased with the changes she witnessed in Corey since September. Her temper has diminished but her anxiety remains high resulting in less frequent tantrums (we hope to eliminate the tantrums).
We have also seen an increase in sparks of short term memory recall. A light switch has NOT turned on. Corey still has significant memory loss but since some of the medications changes, she is recalling conversations and initiating questions to confirm recall.
C-(she always starts out with…) I might be wrong did we go out and see so-n-so recently?
C-can you remind me where we just came from?
M-what’s the picture in your head?
C-I might be wrong but were we exercising at a ballet place?
M-you were using a ballet bar for balance today, good memory!
Corey’s sense of personal awareness is getting stronger, her verbal communication skills are getting more detailed and she appears to be making cognitive/emotional gains. Dr. K has been weaning an older med that works as a sedative not an anti-anxiety drug. Once that is out of Corey’s system, she is adding a true anti-anxiety drug to help take the edge off of Corey’s temperament. In addition, she’s adding a drug used for Alzheimer’s. This new drug used in combination with two stimulant drugs Corey currently takes is expected to improve her short-term memory and maintain recent learned knowledge. We hope to see overall improvement in Corey’s anxiety, awareness and (hopefully) memory in about 3-4 weeks.
2. Neuro-Psychology; Corey has expressed incredibly insightful emotions by sharing her interpretation/observations of how she feels about her ‘new normal’. I have always believed that although Corey couldn’t speak early on or express herself clearly on a daily basis; she’s ‘in there’. She has memory loss but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t ‘know what’s going on around her’ when she’s interacting with others.
I remember seeing a motivational speaker that was a paraplegic. He commented that the average person saw his chair, not the man that sat in the chair, nor his intellect. They saw the wheelchair and assumed he was born that way. Corey is beginning to express similar thoughts. She feels that people treat her differently, have less respect for her and judge her because she is ‘stuck in a wheelchair’.
Corey’s speech is improving but is slurred as a result of her accident. If you’re not used to ‘hearing’ her, you might not understand her pronunciation of words but if you listen to what she has to say, you will hear her intellect. When she speaks, she sometimes stammers as she begins a thought or sentence. She has experienced people raising their voice as they talk to her as if she’s hearing impaired. At times, people deliberately speak slowly or use a sing-song tone of voice, or use a childish (somewhat degrading) vocabulary in their conversation assuming she needs an elementary explanation and she hates it! She has said, “I don’t think people think I’m smart”.
M-why do you think that?
C -because of how they talk to me
Corey want’s to walk and hates being in her wheelchair
C-people stare at me and I don’t like it
C-I don’t like being stuck in this chair when we go out. I want to get up and walk around so I can take care of myself and people don’t have to push me everywhere.
In addition to her perception of her public appearance, her private life at times is awkward. Corey is embarrassed to have assistance with certain basic activities of daily living.
Corey’s separation anxiety and stranger anxiety is based on the fear of me leaving.
We are working on the difference between going away vs. leaving. Corey stated the difference in her own words;
C-going away is temporary, leaving is forever.
M-you’re right, so based on that definition, I can go out for a few hours, go to work, go away for a weekend or go away for a week but I always come home; it doesn’t mean I’m leaving forever.
C-but I get scared because you’re the mom and you need to take care of me.
M-I’m the mom of adults. You don’t need to be taken care of like you did when you were younger and just because I go away doesn’t mean I stop being ‘the Mom’. I’ll always be your mom no matter where you are or how old you get. Mom’s are forever.
Dr. A has been impressed by the depth of Corey’s emotional intellect. “She is a smart woman”.
Corey may have memory loss but she is more in tune with who she is, what she wants and how the world she now lives in has changed than many would ever begin to guess…the issue is, those views are forgotten as quickly as they are realized hence the recurring panic/anxiety, repetitive questioning and disorientation.
Bottom line; she’s ‘in there’ and we’re going to continue to help her strengthen her self awareness, self esteem and self reliance along with regaining her physical capabilities so she can live her life to the best of her ability…..hmmm…is this just brain injury…sounds “normal” to me, xoxo