I shared with you all that a dear friend (my age) had a stroke last November. Otherwise fit and trim, her only real quirk is that she is a devoted hypochondriac, even completing the strange aspirin desensitization program which I can’t get past thinking had something to do with her stroke.
Sharon was lucky to be found on the floor by her daughter who got her to the hospital quickly enough to still be alive!
She had very little movement loss but did lose a considerable amount of speech and cognitive ability. She’s on a medical leave from work but it doesn’t seem (to me at least) that she’ll ever be able to hold down the high powered position she had before the stroke.
I visited her in the hospital soon after the stroke and once more at her apartment in the city. I’ve mostly written snail mail notes and called her regularly. I spoke with her today and she seems to be stuck in a hole. She has no memory of any of our previous conversations. No memory of a birthday card I sent or what she did on her birthday (which was just ten days ago). When I asked her a question, her response was in words that were totally unconnected, words that made no sense together, just a string of disassociated words, although each word was fairly big but used in wrong context.
I asked her about work, whether or not she might choose to retire, and her answer was okay there, saying yes, she might do that, but then she said it was impressive and I didn’t know what she was talking about.
I tried to do most of the talking, telling her about our vacation…. and maybe that’s how I move forward with her. I don’t want her to struggle when she speaks with me yet I do want to stay connected. Her daughter is keeping her mother’s progress (or lack thereof) close to the vest, choosing not to tell friends like me what’s going on. I have to respect that (I guess) but I would like to be in the loop so I know what I can and should or should not do.
It’s frustrating and sad. Any tips for me to help? Should I stay away? (which goes totally counter to my instinct). If the daughter thinks she wants to keep her mother’s health inside a few family members, I guess I have no choice but to comply. The daughter (who is young yet, in her early twenties) is there when I visit and when I call – she’s given up her job to stay home full time with her mother. Sharon’s sister is nearby so I know at least there’s an adult helping the daughter make decisions but I’m concerned the daughter is in full stress mode. Sigh.