July 21, 2008

Mid-Summer Update

We went out for pizza with old friends last night which was both a happy and sad time. Happy because it's always great to see old friends but sad because it accentuated yet another growing post stroke problem---Don's isolation. His ability to stay focused on our group and participate in conversation was severely hampered by the hearing loss he received last fall at the Disability Deer Hunt Sight-in Day. A volunteer helping Don didn't make sure he was using ear plugs so now in places where there's a lot of background noises, he can't follow the thread of conservations. Even without background noises it can be a challenge requiring me and others to repeat things three or four times. Part of that is aphasia/language processing issues from the stroke but most of it is that damn hearing loss. The audiologist says there's not much you can do about that type of hearing loss because it's to the center nerve and turning up the aids only makes the background noises all the more annoying.

It's sad because the stroke itself robbed Don of so many opportunities for social interaction like not being included on house party guess lists because the location aren't wheelchair friendly or because old activities we used to do with other couples are no longer a commonality that bind us together. Since the sight-in accident Don can't even successfully "talk" on the phone anymore. In the past he used to enjoy listening to friends and family talking about their lives. Now, he ends up putting the phone down about half way through the call. Thankfully, he seems to be handling his growing isolation fairly well but that doesn't stop me from feeling badly for him. He used to be so engaged with people both before and after the stroke until recently. It's like watching a falling star and holding your breath knowing eventually it will burn out.

But we're keeping busy, almost too busy for my tastes. We're out of the house every afternoon doing what we can to enrich our lives---shopping, going to local parks and free summer concerts, going to restaurants, art shows and the YMCA, giving the new puppy playtimes and taking him to obedience classes. It's easy to keep busy in the summer.

I'm taking two aquatic pool classes when I can fit them in. One is jazz dancing. The instructor actually incorporates dance steps from all the decades of my life and they bring back some great memories, listening to the music that goes with the exercise. The instructor for the other class combines boxing, kick boxing, cross country skiing and belly dancing moves. When I get finished with that class I'm energized and ready to take on the world. Where's my Wonder Woman costume when I need it? I could wear it home and feel like I'm appropriately attired. But as the day wears on my aches and pains remind me that I'm still an old woman. Such is life. We dream of Nirvana and even achieve it from time to time then we slip back to where we began leaving our Zen living-in-the-moment pleasures behind. ©

.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

JR,

Sorry to read about Don's hearing troubles! I hadn't realized the extent of the damage. I guess there was no way of catching that as it occurred? Don was probably so excited himself at the time. Spilt milk anyway. Seems like three forward and two back all the time.

Good luck with the exercise program. Jenny loves access to the pool with the our A.C. membership. She started running (jogging)again and uses the pool in between for aerobics and muscle conditioning.
Nice shot of Levi.

BTW, I prefer posting here rather than SN.
Tom

Jellen said...

So sorry to hear of Don's hearing loss. Another blow. Can he read? Seems like visual will be his strongest mode. Wonder if he can learn sign language one handed. I've been thinking about that for Max. But then again, it's another expressive language - so probably would be a problem.

The worst thing about Don losing hearing is that it's receptive language. Don can't afford to lose his best language mode. Must be a difficult time, especially for him.

The Aphasia Decoder.... said...

Jellen,

Don can read and I do write notes to him in restaurants and other places with a lot of background noise. He can't write, though. I've been told that the same thing that keeps him from talking---the apraxia---keeps him from writing i.e. if he could write he could probably talk. For that reason, I doubt sign language would work. It's translating thought to the muscles to make either the mouth or hand move in sequence that isn't going to happen for him.

Anonymous said...

Jean:

I just feel so sorry and sad for Don's hearing troubles. I am sure it is frustrating for you also to loose your loving soulmate to all these problems in life. I am surprised how you keep it all together and don't yell at God. If you don't want to then I can yell at God from your behalf.

Asha

jcrn said...

I'm sorry to learn of the hearing loss, Jean, and also sorry I haven't stopped in lately. Summer chaos took over, with a teen in the house and writing deadlines to fill but you were and are often in my thoughts. Your writing is haunting and resonates with me. I go through similar struggles as a caretaker.I don't know where you find the strength but you inspire me.

Gina's Public Diary said...

Hi, I'm Tuffy's "mom". Sorry Don's hearing is damaged. That does make it hard in social situations. I am very familiar with disabilities because I have had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis since I was three...I'm now 46.

Gina's Public Diary said...

How could I forget this? Levi is adorable.

Michelle L. Devon said...

Been thinking about you! Hope you are doing well... let me know if you need anything. Always keeping you two in my heart and prayers!

Love and stuff,
Michy

parlance said...

Jean, I've been a follower of your Cooper blog for ages, as you know, but today is the first time I've remembered to come to your 'About Me' page and start on your other blogs. I read much of your Diary one and found it full of insights into the life of a couple who are going through such a challenging change in their relationship.

I have a work colleague whose husband had a stroke and last I knew they were still going to Square Dancing classes and exercise classes. I was on a table with them at a big party and was amazed at how he was able to take enjoyment from the occasion even though he couldn't speak.

A blog like yours is not only for people in a similar position to yours, but also for all the others who need to be reminded that people who've had a stroke are still in the midst of life with all its joys and challenges.