I’m not sure if Ricardo will be able to talk like he used to. I’m also not sure if he remembers things the way I was hoping.
One of my worst fears is that Ricardo doesn’t know who I am. Usually I am pretty sure he does, but there are moments when I wonder. There are times when he ignores me or he acts like he doesn’t know me. It’s hard to describe. Today, I was showing him pictures of our life together and it was like he was seeing them for the first time. I asked him on one picture if he knew who my sister was. He nodded his head yes. I asked him a few pictures later if he knew who the same sister was and he looked confused.
I’m scared. It’s hard to describe how terrifying it is to wonder if your spouse remembers you or your life you built together. I hope he does. But I’m not positive, and that is terrifying to me. For the first time today I really wondered if he remembers a lot of things or if he is just giving me the answer that he can tell I want to hear. It’s hard to know whether he is responding to my body language and the cues I am giving him, or if he really remembers me.
I can’t tell you how much I hope this is all just me being crazy.
A few days ago Ricardo tried to whisper some words to me (with the trach in, he can’t use his vocal cords unless he has a valve in it). I understood a couple of the words, but Ricardo kept trying to say things and then he would stick his tongue out in this expression like “oh, sorry, that didn’t make sense”. It was hard to know whether it was his muscles not working or if he was having trouble putting words together.
Today the speech pathologist came for the first time and put a valve in his trach tube. I think my hopes were up a little high. I envisioned that he would be exstatic to talk, that he would sound funny and talk slowly, but that with some effort I would be able to understand him. I mean, I’m his wife, so I would be able to understand him.
With a tremendous amount of effort, after about half hour, Ricardo made a garbled “uuuuu” sound.
The speech pathologist asked him if he knew what he wanted to say but it was just hard to make his mouth say it. Ricardo nodded his head yes.
It was an excellent day for him.
Wait, what? It was an excellent day? Yeah, it was an excellent day for him. If you want a glimpse into how I am feeling right now, this is it. Today, Ricardo was alert and responsive. He was moving all his limbs and even managed to scratch his mouth with his right hand. It was amazing! And I was so happy and proud of him.
We watched TV and he was smiling and seemed to be following the show.
Then 15 minutes later I am wondering if he will ever be able to speak and if he knows who I am. And I feel REALLY OVERWHELMED. And sad. And scared.
And honestly, I’m not sure. Ricardo could just be laughing at the show because it’s funny. He could be responding well to me at moments because I am calling him “love” and I am being tender with him. Maybe he has no idea what the hell his life is like and he feels like he just woke up in hell with tubes coming out of ever part of him and he has no idea who people are or where he is. Maybe he understands what people are saying but he doesn’t remember anything previous to his stroke. Maybe he knows his son’s name is Andrew and I am his wife, because people keep telling him that.
Or maybe his memory is mostly fine, or totally fine.
And maybe he will be able to learn to talk again.
And then he will go back to work and live a normal life.
Or he may basically be starting over.
I just don’t know. And it’s….it’s awful! But I try to stay positive and realize that my life is still good and there are still many reasons to hope. Also, I kind of believe in miracles again, and I am praying for one. So if you believe in miracles, pray with me.