The mind that time forgot

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A former high-school classmate — someone I knew and even dated more than 50 years ago — said hello in the Blue Ridge Restaurant on a recent morning and I did not know who she was or even her name.

When she got mad and walked away I followed her out of the restaurant and asked: “It appears we know each other” and tried to explain that my memory comes and goes from an accident with a severe head injury two years ago.

She calmed down and came back inside the restaurant so we could share a cup of coffee and talk.

I wish I could say what happened is an isolated incident but it is not.  My memory is fickle.  People I should know say “hello” and I cannot recall their names or why I should know them.

Such memory loss is not unusual for someone who suffers from what the docs call “TBI,” also know as Traumatic Brain Injury.  While laying in a coma in the intensive care unit of Carilion Clinic in Roanoke in November and December of 2012, I was unaware of my surroundings.

Amy listened to doctors who offered pessimistic doubts about my ability to recover.  They told her I would probably wake up a vegetable — if I woke up at all — and would not know my name or hers.

Eventually, I did wake up, did know who I was and remembered her.  My memory, however, fluctuates.  I too often lose place in the middle of a sentence, struggle with names and facts I should know easily and greet lifelong acquaintances with a blank stare.

Next month, I do back into what is called “occupational therapy” with the goal of getting back memories that remain locked away in a the muddled recesses of a brain that took a beating in 2012.

I doesn’t help that I turn 67 next week — an age where memory loss is a fact of life.

During this time, I ask for patience and understanding.  If I don’t know you when I should, if I stumble over your name and can’t recall something I should know, please know that it is a lingering condition that remains under treatment.

I’m still recovering.  I’m not back to where I should be.  I may never get there again but I sure as hell will try.

Like the alcoholism I have held at bay for 20 years, six months and four days, I face this one day at a time.

2 Responses to The mind that time forgot

  1. Doug, I guess our (December 1947) birthdays are only a week apart, which is a few weeks closer than I remembered when I saw your Facebook post about this.
    Never good at remembering birthdays, I find myself more annoyed lately at having trouble with names and faces.
    I think it’s great that you have pro help sorting out the TBI effects from the infuriating falling-off of calendar pages.
    But you’re better than anyone I know at seizing one day at a time, and sharing what you learn… Keep on keeping on.