Amnesia

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

In 1979 when I was 16 years old. I suffered a horrible accident in which I fell from a height of 40 feet. I lost my memory of my childhood prior to the day of the accident. In 22 years, I still have only had maybe a dozen memories of my childhood prior to the accident. Most have been a flash of a single moment in my childhood like it was in pause mode. I only have a few brief memories from the time I woke up in the hospital and being home from the hospital. I do remember sitting in the doctor’s office with my mother and he was telling her that over time, I might regain some of my memories here and there. But, most likely I would not. I remember returning home and my mother telling me that I should go lay down and rest. I could hear her downstairs sitting at the kitchen table crying. I went downstairs to ask my mom why she was crying (I knew it was because she was upset and sad that I had lost my memories) she told me that she was sad because all the things in my childhood that were special to me, things I had done, special moments we shared at holidays like when she was able to finally buy my sister and I brand new bicycles for the first time. She said that they were all gone now. She was so sad for me. I looked at her and said “those memories aren’t gone, You still have them and you can tell me all about them and just hearing about them would make them special to me as well. She looked at me kind of odd and said: How did you become so wise and so smart for a 16 year old. I looked at her and said: That I do remember, I got it from you mom. She flew her arms around me and just started balling in tears. We had always had a sit down dinner as a family every night. From that moment forward, every evening at the dinner table she would tell me all about my childhood and about all the things I did and accomplished. My sister joined in as well and told me about allot of the things I had done and hid them from my mother as to not get in trouble.

I still have not regained those memories. I can sit and tell people about my childhood and things I did. But it is not from memory, it is from stories told to me.

Recently, within the past six months I have had days and moments where one day, I could not remember how to spell the simplest of words and read a poem to my wife three times in a row but within an hour could not remember what I read to her. Or couldn’t remember what I had done the previous day. Should I be concerned about this and seek a specialist to check for some sort of brain damage??

A. You are beginning to notice symptoms that concern you. The sort of memory problems you are describing are not normal. Your symptoms may be associated with your childhood accident or they may be indicative of a new, unrelated problem. To answer your question directly, yes, you should be evaluated by a physician. Check with your primary care physician about which specialist would be the most appropriate for you.

I would also like to thank you for sharing your story about your family’s reaction to your accident and your subsequent memory loss. You are very fortunate to have such a loving and caring family. May I suggest that you submit your story to Reader’s Digest in their search for “best life stories?” I am not affiliated with Reader’s Digest in any way but I believe that genuine stories of goodness, kindness, resiliency, and love should be shared with as many people as possible. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle
@DrKRandle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Oct 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). Amnesia. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/10/13/amnesia/