“What did you eat?”
“I eat fruit.” Marvelous! Another sentence.
“I eat….” A pause. I waited , holding g my breath. Would this be the end of his speech abilities? I tried a backup strategy that had failed on Wednesday.
“Can you draw a picture of it?” I asked while holding out a pencil and paper I had brought just for this purpose today. He took the pencil, thought for a moment, and drew two triangles for me. I peeked at the menu and saw French Toast and asked him if that was what he ate. He replied affirmatively and repeated, “I eat french toast.” We were on a roll!
Next he pointed at a covered bowl and simply said “Yuck” while making a noticeably displeased face. Taking advantage of another skill I wanted to probe today, I picked up the menu and asked him to read it and tell me which item he found to be yucky. Rapidly he began reading out loud each of the items and then iNcoated the oatmeal was yucky. Now I knew he could read for information and he could translate that reading into expressive speech. This was fabulous progress!
I showed him the communication board I had printed off at home with words and pictures of common things he might need to say in a hospital. He read through it and told me several things he needed to do, including take a shower. I wholeheartedly agreed since it had been 3 days since his last shower. I noted his new ability to express personal needs and kept probing. Over the next hour he was able to shower independently and chat with the male nurse assigned to care for him today about his scrubs and Nike shoes. The nurse had read notes in his chart about Laurent’s expressive aphasia but was as pleasantly surprised about his speech as we were.
It was if major parts of Laurent’s brain had been unplugged for 2 days and we’re now reconnected! Those sections involving nouns, initiation, motivation, and even independent movement that lay dormant for. That time suddenly awoke. Like the song Wick from the Secret Garden they must have been waiting for the right time to re-emerge. I felt just as much delight in hearing l speak and seeing his bubbly personality return as I do when I see the first crocus break through the snow in Spring. Amazing!
Night and day. At 4:30 am I had resolved that we were in this for the long haul and I was determined to conquer this once more. I felt somber yet resolute. By 9:00 a.m. I could barely contain my joy and hope! This is how I imagined Abraham felt when asked to sacrifice his only son Isaac. I’m guessing he too was somber and yet resolved to follow God’s command and submit his will to a Higher Power. I’m fairly certain I can also feel the joy and relief at finding the ram in the thicket and being told he didn’t have to go through with it. In the terms of teenagers today, it was if I was being told, “JK!” (Just kidding). “You don’t really have to go through it either.”
As I write this at 10:30 p.m., I am so grateful it was a JK. For whatever reason, we were remindeed of the darkness of night and the deficits associated with brain injuries and then gI enjoy
the beautiful gift of relief and renewal. I don’t know how his brain was plugged back in. I don’t believe the doctors are certain either. Howeve, it just confirms to us the importance of hope and faith.
Laurent is home now. He was discharged this evening. We have several things to watch and follow up on over the next few weeks. However, he is home. We love his smile and cheerful personality. We empathize with those who remain in night a lot longer and pray for the renewing light of dawn for them and their families.. Thank you to all who helped at home and at the hospital. We appreciate your positive thoughts and faith-filled prayers. God bless you for your kindness ad service.
Kerrie and Laurent Neu