Things have been rather challenging since last week. We’ve got another insurance hurdle to jump in about 3 weeks. Corey has to push harder now than she has in months. In addition to the functional improvements Insurance is looking for, everyone is working to help her with her emotional and behavioral growth. It is a concern that Corey’s anxiety is limiting her willingness to participate in more advanced exercises therefore limiting her potential to accelerate her progress.
As you all know, we have been working with Corey’s medications. She’s off the Keppra, as well as 3 other medications. We’ve added Gabapentin (a broad spectrum seizure drug) and Aricept. Aricept is a drug used for dementia patients. Corey began taking the medication about two months ago. We are beginning to see consistent sparks of memory recall. Although Corey still is unaware of the year, month, day/date, time or season and she does not recall today’s events, she is referring to details from conversations we had last week. We’ve started with weekly visits to a NeuroBehavioral Psychologist that specializes in TBI (a rare find actually). During our sessions with Dr. A, she is expressing memories and emotions from her childhood I had never heard and her timing is accurate. The depth of conversation and realizations have been very encouraging. Corey does not retain the conversations but is beginning to recall the concepts several days later. She is beginning to initiate questions based on what we discussed the week prior.
I use the word sparks deliberately because I don’t want to mislead anyone. Corey’s “light switch” hasn’t turned on and this is not a Hollywood produced movie where the heroine suddenly ‘wakes up’ and the world is back to ‘normal’. Hollywood aside, her questions and conversation recall is very, very encouraging.
Physically we are working on her balance daily. She can not take independent steps if she can not balance her body weight. Corey is most frustrated with not caring for herself independently. She still requires help dressing, showering as well as attending to her personal bathroom needs. Balance and strengthening her left arm will aide in that accomplishment.
Today, Corey used her forearm cane to walk into the bathroom with me. Holding her left hand in my right hand, she stood, undressed manipulating her pants with her right arm, used the facility, tended to herself, then pulled herself to a standing position, redressed balancing grasping her left hand in my right, and once dressed reached for her cane and walked to the sink to wash her hands.
The success of this very intimate moment was another first! To me, this was one of the most significant accomplishments she has achieved to date. Prior to today she has had to accept, albeit with grace and humility, the assistance of family and strangers to help her with all her most personal needs.
This afternoon we arrived at Bryn Mawr for our usual PT/OT. When Natalie approached Corey and asked her if she had any special requests for todays session, Corey replied, “I just want to workout”. Natalie took a double take and wondered who this young woman was and what did she do with the Corey that always wants to “work on leaving”?
Corey told Anne about her dressing achievement so the ladies tied elastic exercise bands around her waist. Corey had to stand, balance and shimmy the band down to her knees then back up to her waist. After several repetitions, she removed the band, sat down and tried to put it back on starting at her feet. This simulates the motion needed to put on her socks and pants from a seated position.
Want to challenge yourself? Try using only one arm with every task you undertake throughout your day. If you choose your non-dominant arm, add a level of difficulty by placing a 20lb weight on the ankle of the same non-dominant side. Now perform all your normal activities of daily living. One more critical component…you will be scored on your functional performance.
Never give up, never give in, xoxo