My mother has had a stroke – she’d said she’d not been feeling right the day before after one of our regular weekly catch-ups. She’d had a mini stroke six months previously and was booked in to see a specialist the following week. That was six weeks ago – a second stroke and the prognosis is, to put it bluntly, dire.
Beyond the obvious sorrow and challenges my siblings and I are settling into a pattern of communicating with and responding to whatever we can reach – my interest in learning, human development and even accessibility is playing a part.
I would only be writing this if there were some extraordinarily glimmers of hope sparked by seeking out ways to ‘bring her back’ – this includes childhood anecdotes, images of paintings (she has an MA in Fine Art) and familiar tastes- so a spoonful of creme brulle rather than the hospital yoghurt. Hope lost, it was remarkable to make out words that gave a name of an artist or where the painting was held and when I last spoke to my sister they were managing a game of dominos. There is no other communication beyond hand gripping and trying to interpret facial expressions, though she is finding a way to get her message across, at least at time we are getting a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from a gesture.
Sixteen years ago I read a book by a neuroscientist called ‘What’s going on in there?’ that explained infant development, two years with the OU has allowed me to explore further what ‘goes on in there’ to qualify as learning – today I have to consider how the mind can degenerate or be damaged and how in this instance learning is just as relevant, finding connections that have been weakened, damaged and destroyed and remembering my lessons from coaching disabled athletes too – play to their strengths, not their weaknesses.
On Thursday the doors open on my FINAL module of the Masters in Open and Distance Education – H810 Accessibile Online Learning: supoorting disabled students.
I know friends here will have their own personal experiences of strokes – do share thoughts, advice and experience please.
Before I forget – the iPad had been CRUCIAL. I loaded family photos, but also images from the Van Gogh exhibition that was on at the RA a year or so ago, as well as dozens of 20th century artists and loads of images from a hefty book on Leornado da Vinci. Next week it’ll be Dutch painters. I should go in with Holbein too and much of the National Portrait Gallery.
Learning in extremis? You research online, speak to someone who has been through this, then ask questions and see for yourself. You talk at length until you come to some joint understanding, which has included a gathering of family, specialists and nursing staff. I do wonder who is in charge – we know who isn’t, though if she could say it my mother would say it was up to God.