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Attention Span in Stroke Patients

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Old 07-18-2011, 08:30 PM   #1
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Attention Span in Stroke Patients

As some of you may know, my MIL suffered a massive stroke on June 5, 2011. She had to have a craniotomy about a week later to relieve the pressure on the right side of the brain and actually recovered really well from the operation. She is now in a rehab/care facility and has been there for about 2 1/2 wks now, going on 3 wks and has actually been doing a lot of helpful rehab. The thing is though, when we go in to visit her, she is sometimes very alert and can actually talk and relay what she wants to get across and she does recognize all of us. But sometimes, she does talk like she is a bit confused. I.e. the other day we went in there and she was talking about how she had to get up and go to the bathroom, but she has had a catheter ever since she first had the stroke, so she hasn't actually gone to the bathroom by herself in over a month. She can't even walk on her own at this point, so going to the bathroom by herself is out of the question. I know that her brain is busy forming new connections and trying to make sense of everything but honestly, it is sometimes hard to understand if she will ever be back to full capacity. She also has trouble swallowing right now and has a PEG tube in her stomach to get nutrients but I know that the speech therapy people are working with her to get her back to be able to swallow food on her own. Does this swallowing function ever come back or should we be resigned to have her on this PEG tube forever? Just trying to figure out if any of these functions will be back or not. Thanks.

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Old 07-19-2011, 07:09 AM   #2
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Re: Attention Span in Stroke Patients

Hello Lisa,
It is nice to hear from you again. I am glad you mil is having some talking and reacting. That is such a good sign. I would not worry too much on the days she seems to not be with it. It is normal. She is going to have good days and bad days, it is just the way it is. I still after all this time have my good days and bad days. When I have my good perfect speak days my wife thinks, "Hallelujah!! He's been healed!!" And then the next day I can't make a total sentence without her help, or get into a fog. It makes no sense. But I bet every stroke survivor here will agree about the "good day - bad day" scenario. But the thing is the good days and bad days get less and less. They still happen, but not as noticeable. And she is still just had a stroke, so there is a lot more recovering and healing to happen.

I don't know about the swallowing. It did not happen to me. But I know that swallowing is a common thing with stroke survivors. And it seems like from what I have read that it does come back. But here again it is another thing where time and patience is what you need. I know it is hard to hear at times, but that is the truth with strokes. But she seems like she is doing amazingly well for what she has been through. That is the truth.
God Bless,

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Old 07-19-2011, 09:04 PM   #3
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Re: Attention Span in Stroke Patients

Hi Lisa
I am so glad to hear about Mil's progress. I know with catheters even though they are taking care of the urine if the tube gets pinched at all or if she is laying on the tube and it gets backed up the bladder can get full and she could be feeling the sensation of needing to go to the bathroom forgetting for the moment she had the catheter and just going with the immediate feeling of a full bladder.
I agree with Tim I am one year stroke recover and the good day, bad day is very prevelant in my recovery. And like Tim said it does get better. My word search is much better than what it was and I can talk much better in a conversation. However if I am tired I start to stumble again and search for words. But I am improved. She will improve too. It is very very encouraging that she is talking and understanding what she is saying and asking for. That is so great. She has done well. Like I said if I get tired it is a whole new ball game. So if she is doing it celebrate, when she is confused or weaker in her speach it might just be she is tired. Its coming, its improving and its there. Thats great.
As for the tube I would not give up on the idea that she will swallow on her own. She is fairly new in recovery so stay hopeful because recovery is never over it is continual.
So glad to hear from you.
God Bless

Last edited by Mulchie; 07-19-2011 at 09:10 PM.

Old 07-23-2011, 03:39 AM   #4
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Re: Attention Span in Stroke Patients

Hi Lisa

Apologies for two posts in one night, but life has been a bit hectic and I am trying desperately to catch up. Re your MIL wanting to go to the bathroom, dad also has a cathetar etc. However I had a call to day from Mum saying that he was insistent with staff on going to the bathroom to move his bowels today (he can not speak yet, but kept pushing his wheelchair towards the bathroom until staff worked it our, and did indeed do his business as intended, huge progress for us).

I know it may not make sense as she does have a catheter, but it may be a dignity thing that she wants to go to a bathroom. Dad had a catheter following a bowel cancer operations just prior to his stroke so I guess we already know how much he hated it. It could just be struggles communicating, but might also be worthwhile asking the staff to let her try the bathroom?


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Old 07-31-2011, 06:45 PM   #5
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Re: Attention Span in Stroke Patients

In regard to your MIL'S swallowing problem I had a stroke 2 years ago and could not swallow or speak well. I was on a feeding tube for 6 weeks . I was in the hospital for a month and came home with the tube. My daughter learned how to use the tube, but after a week, of necessity, I learned to use it. No one except my primary care doctor gave me any assurance that I would be able to eat normally again. Finally I took the swallowing test again. This time, I passed but "not with flying colors". The upshot is I gradually learned to swallow again. Now I eat normally and sometimes I have a problem with eating, but usually I do ok. My speech is also normal.

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Old 07-31-2011, 09:38 PM   #6
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Re: Attention Span in Stroke Patients

In stroke recovery, I have learned to never say never! Your MIL's stroke is very recent, and there are so many things she still has to come...

When I had my strokes, I couldn't even wake up for two years! At my 8th year of recovery, I am still overcoming things that I never knew I had forgotten!

While doctors can be reluctant to give false hope, us survivors have way different outlooks. For us, the sky is the limit. We have seen it in ourselves, and in others here.

As far as attention span, that is another area that takes time. At her poing in recovery, she is still hard at work, restoring connections that have been disrupted, re-establishing blood and oxygen supplies, restoring nerve endings and routing new paths of communication between the different areas f the brain. That is the first work that needs to be done before the finer skills can be achieved.

I have always thought the job of the caretaker must be the hardest of all. To have to sit through the ups and downs of long recovery, it has to be the worst. As stroke survivors, we applaud all that are special and warmhearted enough to watch your loved ones go through such an special or a person in needed for this thankless job.

Please know that we are all behind each other, as we go through each of the phases of recovery together, the "older" guiding the "younger" along. We are all so lucky to have each other, and each message that is shared, is shared with all.

With love to you and strength to your MIL, make each day show a bit of progress, even if it is counted in the number of smiles she makes being one more than yesterday.

Love Janet

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