Cultivating Hope

I like hope.  I like doing hopeful things.  Life is full of naysayers and cynics, but I’d rather go a different way.  What will it cost me? Cultivating hope isn’t the same as living in denial.  I’m fully aware of the facts, but what are the possibilities? What the hell am I talking about?

Let me relate a story.  A woman in her early thirties recently had a massive stroke.  She’s a friend of a friend.  I’ve been receiving updates about her since the day it happened because I have been praying for her and her family.  It’s a devastating thing, and the situation has frightened me.  The suffering.  What is possible.  Her husband and two-year old daughter left to wonder what would happen to her while she languishes in the ICU, intubated, in a medically induced coma, awaiting the results of her MRI.  The neurologists didn’t want to give them false hope.  It looked like a third of her brain had died.  No one knew what she would be capable of.  Would she speak? Would this classically trained concert pianist play the piano again? As it turns out, she’s doing fabulously well.  The brain is a mystery even to “brain experts”.  The brain often makes a way when it looks like it shouldn’t.  This woman is going to be okay.  She will recover and function almost as well as she did before her stroke.  And her brain? Yeah, a third of it is not functioning properly.  I’m astounded, relieved, and hopeful.

This is an adult’s brain.  What might a plastic, juvenile brain be capable of doing? Yes, Grace’s brain is in the process of degenerating.  That’s why she’s hallucinating.  That’s why she has lost some social skills.  She told me yesterday that she can’t imagine facing the world alone as an adult.  She hopes that we will always have room for her in our house when she’s a “grown-up”.  I told her that we would, of course, and then she said, “Phew! I feel better now.  Maybe Milly and I would share the upstairs one day.  She might have a hard time, too, since she’s got autism.  I wouldn’t mind that.”

I told her not to give up hope for her future.  I told her the story of the woman who is recovering from her massive stroke, and then I told her why I have all the Smart Games around the house.  They help her brain develop new neural connections as well as develop better working memory and executive planning.  “You mean Chicken Shuffle is good for me?”  I laughed, “Yep! Chicken Shuffle is good for you.”  She shuddered, “I hate that game.  It’s hard!”  I find it rather addictive, but I don’t have executive function problems.  So, that’s what we’ll continue to do.  I’ll give Grace every opportunity to grow new neural connections in her frontal lobe, help her with theory of mind (ToM), and continue to help her with her social skills.  She might have a brain experiencing degeneration, but she still has a growing brain, too.  If an adult brain can grow new neural connections after a massive stroke, then a juvenile brain can do it, too.

Resources:

Smart Games–these games are awesome! We have Castle Logix, Camelot Jr., Chicken Shuffle, and Go Getter (Prince and Dragon).  You can find most Smart Games on Amazon.

Architecto–great spatial reasoning game which requires executive planning.  Also available on Amazon, of course…

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4 thoughts on “Cultivating Hope

  1. “She told me yesterday that she can’t imagine facing the world alone as an adult.”
    I’m not ashamed to admit this single sentence made me cry. A lot.
    I wish I was in a position to help you and Grace, my friend. For what its worth, I’ve shared your story through a link on my blog.

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