For those just visiting the blog for the first time, please read THIS INTRODUCTORY POST for Uma updates in chronological order, to get the full story about Uma's recovery process. For those who are old friends of the blog, here's John's latest update...
12-16-11 Update from John:
Acceptance. It's been a long time coming and may not be a permanent visitor....but I hope it is a frequent one. It's very welcome.
My Uncle Terry and I had a conversation about using the word "recovery" and I've decided to try some different words. As he said, "Language is everything."
Uma is reorganizing. So are the people who experienced hurricane Katrina. Once the storm stopped, their work started. It's still going on and will go on for many years.
It's the same thing for Uma. A storm of blood and loss swept through her brain and "washed" away two thirds of her left hemisphere. In both the most basic and poignant ways, her reorganization will continue until she dies.
The brain does form new neural pathways but this doesn't happen over-night....or over-year. It happens more quickly the more the brain is pushed to reorganize. And Uma has been pushed.......a lot......mostly by me. Fortunately for both of us she is learning to push herself now. And I am learning to let go.
In many ways the most important things that have happened for her here at Core Health pertain to her inner life. As she said, "I had to do it by....uh....for myself....not for John." I agree. By, for, because of herself? I'll take all three and more. She has learned to focus on herself, on what makes her "tick". She is learning to be honest with herself, to observe herself, and to accept what has happened to her.
As I alluded in my email in April, there were tragedies for Uma long before her brain injury. If these things required good care and time before her stroke, they'll require more specialized care afterward. Finding a good "shrink" (as she says) who has experience with traumatic brain injury is really not easy to do. It is a specialty that very, very few psychotherapists go into or encounter. VA hospitals have them....but Uma is not a soldier in the conventional sense. Core Health has one of these specialists and it has been the best thing for Uma throughout her stay here in Dripping Springs.
If a brain injured person can't think clearly, doesn't accept herself or feel that she's worth the effort then no amount or quality of hand, speech, and physical therapy is going to be of any use. This was a hard and a difficult lesson to learn - for both of us. But, using her markedly improved capacity for speech, Uma expresses these things in so many words. She is not holding her pain at arms length anymore. Humans don't usually do this until they are good and ready. She is both.
In terms of post-stroke reorganization, it's now thought that Uma might be approaching the half way point - just as she approaches the 5 year mark of her burst brain aneurysm. As her first neurosurgeon in NY said, "...what she has going for her is her youth."
She will be doing something in terms of therapy for many years. It will always cost a lot of money and we will always try to find both the money and the best thing for her.
Core Health was the best thing for her for most of 2011 (late April 'til now). When we drive home mid-January we'll stop and see my brother (Happy Birthday Wayne!) in Albuquerque and then see the Grand Canyon. I've been there a couple of times but she has never seen it. I can't wait to see her reaction.
There is nothing on earth that can contain the amount of love and support that has come from all of you for Uma. It's not something you can hold inside. It's too big for that and it has spread too far. It's all over the place now. I hope a great portion of it finds its way back to you this holiday season and beyond.
Thank you all for everything so far......