So…do you know what’s awesome?
Normal is awesome.
Recently, I was at the Bishop home. We were just hanging out. Baseball on TV, a glass of wine, and talking about nothing. My favorite. At some point, Jo found a brace Beau couldn’t find, and she teased him about it. Later, discussing some financial issue, Jodanna got after Chris with gentle irritation in her voice…”No Chris! Need to do….”
What a beautiful moment.
Normal before June 23, 2016.
We’ve come a long way.
I think about the days prior to Jo’s stroke, as carefree days of innocence. The world became heavier on June 23d.
And yet, there is a feeling of lightening in the karmic realm. As much as this last year kicked our collective ass, I am hopeful that the carefree days of June 22nd, may revisit at some point.
Oh, yeah, how’s Jo?
She’s absolutely great.
You’ve probably seen her making her loop around Nevada City.
Here she is…
Her walking continues to improve, as does her speech. Her right arm is stubborn, but there is movement. Her independence increases daily.
Here she is enjoying Mother’s Day brunch.
Jo will drive again.
Yep. Here’s the next chapter in her recovery.
Can you imagine not driving?
For most of us, driving is a sacred right, so losing it feels like a serious penalty. Many stroke survivors measure recovery by whether and when they can pilot a car again. In reality, their deficits are sometimes too great for that to be possible, but in other cases, such as Jodanna’s, vehicles can be modified to accommodate those deficits.
Before stroke families consider modifying a vehicle, they must first evaluate the survivor’s ability to drive safely. Reflex speed, scanning and strength all need to be at a certain level before a person can drive.
The ability to drive involves several necessary components.
The first is Vision. The ability to see with your eyes. There’s more to this than you might expect. For example, after a stroke, some survivors have a condition called hemianopsia, which effects the peripheral vision. With hemianopsia, there can be vision loss of side, lower or upper peripheral fields. This vision loss occurs in the brain and affects what the brain sees, even when the eyes are fine. Happily, there is no indication that this is a problem for Jodanna.
Next is Perception. How your brain interprets the information you “see” with your eyes. Again, more involved here then one would expect. Perception involves concepts such as spacial relationships, color, contrast, left/ right side neglect and depth perception.
Cognition is the third necessary component for driving. Cognition involves attention span and concentration, memory, processing speed, anticipation of what may occur next, attention to detail, problem solving and doing a task in the correct sequence. For example, when changing lanes, the driver needs to turn on the turn signal, look, change lanes, and turn off turn signal.
Keeping emotions in check is a factor. This can be an issue for some stroke survivors. This can be an issue for all of us. The driver needs to stay calm, not become anxious and avoid overreacting.
The components of Motor, Sensory and Balance will be an area of challenge for Jo. Partial paralysis or weakness and decreased sensation of one side of the body or a limb is a driving deficit. Jo will need to be able to use the gas pedal and brake. She will need to hold the steering wheel, use turn signals and turn the key on. Vehicles can be adapted to facilitate a driver with right-side weakness, like Jo.
Language is a big part of driving. A driver must read words, numbers, and symbols on signs. Jodanna has these abilities. Reading remains a challenge, but she seems to be able to have the necessary language skills for driving.
Endurance and stamina can be an issue, but not in Jodanna’s case.
Jodanna’s doctors and therapists believe that driving is the next major task for Jo.
I look forward to blowing her a kiss as she drives by.