fmhsloudspeaker

A serious case of forgetfulness

In Health & Lifestyles on September 3, 2010 at 7:04 pm
By: Lauren Harper

Each morning begins as a day in 1994 for Michelle Philpots, who suffers from anterograde amnesia. Photo courtesy Google images

 “I wish I could just start today all over again” is probably one of the most common phrases said by people these days. When mornings go awry with waking up late, having a bad hair day, or forgetting lunch money, people tend to wish that the day could just restart itself and a second opportunity to live that day again could be awarded. According to Michelle Philpots, that wish is something she would probably put in the “be careful what you wish for” category because for her, every day is one of those days due to the fact that she suffers from anterograde amnesia.

            Philpots wakes up each morning believing that it is 1994. These circumstances are due to the unfortunate effects of 1985 and 1990 road crashes that resulted in significant brain damage and later led to epilepsy. As a result, the Spalding, England resident must be reminded of nearly everything to be able to function properly. The 47 year old must even be shown wedding photos to remember that she is married. “It can be very frustrating for me but I have to be patient and understand. I have to keep calm because I love her,” her husband, Ian Philpots, stated. Thankfully, Philpots knew him before 1994, so she always knows who he is.

When it comes to the simple things that most people take for granted, like remembering to feed the cat and how to send an email, Philpots leaves Post-It notes and has cell phone reminders to allow her to go throughout her day. She even has to use a GPS system to remind her of how to get around the town in which she grew up.

Her condition, which is said to be brought on by damage to the hippocampus, basal foreplain, or diencephalon, is found to be able to manage being taught new skills and form habits. Though someone can forget that they have been taught to do something like how to play a game, if he/she is prompted to play the game, experts have found that the amnesic individual is able to remember how to perform the skill due to memories on how to do it being formed.

There are, however, a few things that Philpots admits are benefits of the condition, like not ever noticing when a television show is a rerun, and always thinking a joke is as funny the first time as it is after hearing it multiple times. But Philpots is not able to ever enjoy reading books because she forgets the beginning of it by the time she gets to the middle, and said that she loves to watch her favorite show on TV, but can never remember the characters or any story lines. She has learned to remember patterns for dialing telephone numbers, and using word association to remember people’s names. But regardless of difficult things get at times, Philpots and her husband state that “you get used to it”, and both are dedicated to staying positive and accepting the fact that this is how her life will be. So even though a morning does not work out as planned, things could be much worse than what they really are.

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