Saturday, September 3, 2011

To clarify or not...

One of the challenges Meagan faces is around memory and communication. In some ways she is as sharp as ever - remembering names and events from long ago. Her shorter term memory though has changed. She will be describing something which took place - and one of two things will occur. She will not remember the details and will make stuff up to suit her narrative, and then look to me for validation. Or even though I know she knows inside what she means, what she says will come out differently than what she sees in her head. That tends to particularly happen when it comes to time, dates and numbers.

So I am stuck with either correcting, clarifying or staying silent. Sometimes I am not quick enough on the draw and I won't quite get what she is talking about - I know what she said is not exactly right, but don't know what she is actually meaning. If I guess wrong, and then through an interactive process we figure out what she meant and it is closer to what she said than what I thought she meant  - I lose. I then get the evil eye. If I'm right, then I'm correcting her, which doesn't feel good to her (has never felt good to her), so I lose. The only time I get a draw is if my clarifying statements validate her intent, if not her specific words, so that she feels validated by what she said and therefore feels somewhat competent and still mentally healthy. The worst is if I have to say "I don't undertand what you just said", or "that it doesn't make sense to me - can you try that again". I really try to avoid that - because then it really makes her question her capacities and wonder if it's more than just the meds or radiation impact - like maybe potentially more brain tumor growth.

So it's pretty much a lose, lose or draw game for me. This doesn't happen just a couple times during a day - it happens dozens of times. So sometimes I just agree and validate what she says (I can't have zero response  - that is not an option - she is looking at me for some signal), because even if she is wrong on the details, it doesn't matter really. And it's easier on me and our relationship to be in agreement than always clarifying or correcting.

Thankfully we have a couple of days here at Decatur Island and there should be less interaction with others and need for discussing logistics, dates, numbers and time. That will be a good stress reduction for both of us.

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