It’s now Day 20 since Ben had his seizure and was admitted to hospital. The news, on one level, continues to be good. He is communicating pretty well, and is more and more able to form ‘islands’ of memory, recalling certain events and times and then starting to join up the dots. He often begins to say something and then tails off as he looses his train of thought. His short term memory is poor, often not remembering much, if any of what has happened even in the last few hours. He can tell us his age – he told us he was 23 and then added, ‘I’ve been dead for a long time‘. Substitute ‘dead’ for ‘alive’ and it perhaps makes more sense. He’s not so clear about where he is – country or whether it is a hospital – or how to tell the time, or who the Prime Minister is. Interestingly, he is fixated on going to Australia to stay with his aunt, my sister Julia. If he mentions it once, he mentions it three or four times in the course of a visit, planning that we’re leaving tonight or tomorrow. His fluency in (or even knowledge of) Portuguese and Spanish has gone, but we’re assured by the neurologist that it’s quite common for second/third languages to disappear for a time after an incident like this. He is responding to us all appropriately and well, often showing a lovely tenderness towards Dabi when she arrives, and enjoys looking through both recent and old photographs, often with some heartening detailed recall. His favourite photo is of him and Dabi on their wedding day. One old photo prompted a gleeful memory of an enormous water slide we had down a steep grassy bank in our garden in North Devon and our good friend Linda going down the slide, over the muddy grass, then over the bank and into the park below! That must have been ten years ago, but he laughed as he recalled it clearly. Physically, he’s lost a lot of weight and muscle tone, but with the combination of physiotherapy and him now starting to eat solids again, we’re hoping to see him regaining some bulk.
On another level however, the neurology team continue to hit a brick wall regarding a diagnosis. Still awaiting test results from around the country, they’ve been going back over all the tests that they’ve carried out already. He’s had a fresh MRI scan of his head, which has shown a reduction in the swelling – good news in itself – but which has shown nothing to indicate the cause.
Since writing all the above, I’ve seen Ben again today. He’s now had all tubes removed, has walked the length of the corridor twice with the physiotherapist and is now eating unassisted, even polishing off two large sandwiches, some mashed vegetables and a pot of yogurt. While he is looking so much better, his mental confusion continues as he struggles to make sense of both past and present. However, as a good friend and fellow pastor here in the city left the hospital today having visited Ben, he saw a double rainbow in the sky above. Sending me the picture (above) in a text message, Aran commented, “…reminded of God’s faithfulness through trials”.
As I was sitting with Ben yesterday, he randomly said, ‘I spent an hour talking to God this afternoon’. I asked him if he found it helpful, to which he replied, ‘I did’. And so we pray on with him.