Brian & Diane's Story
4 Nov 2016 at 12:00AM
Category: Your Stories
Meeting with Brian over coffee was a genuinely moving experience. A dear old man of 87 years old and quietly spoken, Brian is the carer for his daughter, Diane, 58. Brian's gentle nature and endearing care for Diane moved us . He cares so much for his daughter and is so sincere and humble.
Five years ago, at the age of just 53, Diane suffered a severe subrachnoid haemorrage stroke. She was rendered basically immobile; unable to move or speak.
In his words, "I suppose I thought, like a lot of people would, that eventually Diane would improve and start speaking and whatever. I was quite mistaken. You need these therapists. And I didn't get the reactions like we're getting now until various therapists did their thing. And I'm impressed... I had never experienced stroke first hand, there hasn't been a history of it in the family, and Diane having had it, I've learnt a lot. The people that've got the experience, such as the therapists, they're the clever ones... I'm amazed they've got the results they have."
On his experiences of Brainlink, Brian shared the following...
"I was extremely glad that Donna (from Brainlink) came on board as a case manager. Every time we would have a meeting up at the nursing home, Donna would make notes and endeavor to have the nursing home cooperate with the carers and the therapists and they'd just all help the whole thing come together. I couldn't fault Brainlink's performance getting the whole thing working... you need someone there to coordinate things, have the nursing home cooperate, and make sure that the carers came in and did the right thing. So to me, it's been a great relationship...it seems to me this Slow to Recovery, with serious strokes like Diane's, it's essential. You just can't do without it... It's a wonderful program."
"I've tried to be helpful, tried everything. And the best thing I ever did was come along to Brainlink... When that came through, it got all the therapists and everything."
Brian told us about the first time Diane recognised him after the stroke...
"One day I went in there and she opened her eyes, and I said, "Hello love how are you going?" and she smiled at me. Which was nice, you know, nothing for five years and then all of a sudden, some recognition."
Although there is a long way to go, there have been stages of improvement achieved by her medical team of therapists, nurses and doctors working in close collaboration with Brian. One of those minor miracles was actually in part due to Diane's love of Suzi Quatro!
Brian shared the story; He thought that music might help Diane, so he started playing some in the background each day when he visited the nursing home where she now resides. Before she had her physiotherapy sessions, he would go in to move her joints and limps around, try and stimulate the muscles to engage. Diane has a daughter and a son, both adults with children to care for of their own, and a brother who lives overseas, so Brian is the only carer for her because no one else can.
One day he decided she needed music from her previous life, before the stroke, music she loves to inspire some kind of response. And he found it.
He said, when he plays this particular cd, "she moves her lips. I play her a popular singer, and she knows all the songs, and she moves her lips in synchronised with the words being sung, but no sound."
When we asked who it was, he answered "Believe it or not, It's Suzi Quatro... it didn't impress me... (apologetic laughter) but because she liked her, I play it. And there's a couple of her cds, I play them while I'm there, just to get her going a bit, get her in a good, receptive mood."
"Every time I play this particular cd that I saw her mouth the words, and I concentrate on that. Every time I go, every time I play it. And hope that she might make some sounds, it could be garbled or whatever, but I encourage her...
It's all part of the process... The development."
Diane is now able to taken around in her own customised wheelchair, can indicate "yes" or "no" choices (which recently involved her choosing her own nail polish colour, and choosing to order a chocolate mousse cake!), and according to Brian she "has an infectious smile" and her nurses "like to make her smile and they feel happier when she smiles."
UPDATE: We are happy to report that in the last week Diane has actually spoken her first word since the stroke!