As a blogger, I may be compensated in some way (either pay, product, or experience) for sharing the post below All opinions are my own. ~Heidi
This past Saturday night, Ian asked me if he and I could sleep downstairs in the living room. Honestly, I try to indulge him (if possible) when he asks, because I figure that, soon enough, he won’t want to hang out with me so much – and he’ll soon be too tall to sleep on the love seat (he’s borderlining now!) I actually usually sleep very well on the couch. But, this time was an exception . . .
I woke up Sunday morning feeling very drained. I realized that I had been having a nightmare. I dreamed that I was driving Gracie to her violin lesson and had an episode of Transient Global Amnesia, made a wrong turn, and got us terribly lost. Having an amnesia episode while in the car has been a fear of mine for a few years now.
I’ve been feeling convicted to start a series of blog posts based on some of my life experiences. I’m not sure if this dream was a way of pushing that conviction to the forefront or not. But, in any case . . .
What is TGA?
The Mayo Clinic describes it this way:
Transient global amnesia is a sudden, temporary episode of memory loss that can’t be attributed to a more common neurological condition, such as epilepsy or stroke.
During an episode of transient global amnesia, your recall of recent events simply vanishes, so you can’t remember where you are or how you got there. In addition, you may not remember anything about what’s happening in the here and now. Consequently, you may keep repeating the same questions because you don’t remember the answers you’ve just been given. You may also draw a blank when asked to remember things that happened a day, a month or even a year ago.
With transient global amnesia, you do remember who you are, and recognize the people you know well. But that doesn’t make your memory loss less disturbing.
Fortunately, transient global amnesia is rare, seemingly harmless and unlikely to happen again. Episodes are usually short-lived, and afterward your memory is fine.
The symptoms are described in this way:
Health care professionals base a diagnosis of transient global amnesia on the following signs and symptoms:
- Sudden onset of memory loss, verified by a witness
- Retention of personal identity despite memory loss
- Normal cognition, such as the ability to recognize and name familiar objects and follow simple directions
- Absence of signs indicating damage to a particular area of the brain, such as limb paralysis, involuntary movement or impaired word recognition
Additional symptoms and history on which a diagnosis for transient global amnesia is based:
- Duration of no more than 24 hours and generally shorter
- Gradual return of memory
- No evidence of seizures during the period of amnesia
- No history of active epilepsy
Along with these signs and symptoms, a common feature of transient global amnesia includes repetitive questioning, usually of the same question — for example, “What am I doing here?” or “How did we get here?”
Back in January of 2012, I was under a great deal of stress. I had just quit my job due to some less-than-pleasant circumstances, and was in the midst of starting a new job as a Disney travel agent. I woke up one morning, feeling fine, but after a shower, I couldn’t remember anything. When I kept repeating the same questions to my family, they called my parents. My mom is a nurse and immediately thought, “stroke!” so they rushed me to the emergency room.
I remember very little from my time in the hospital that day. I do remember what I was wearing (and I remember asking, “Who dressed me in this?!”) I remember my mom’s best friend being there with us for awhile (I can’t remember seeing her, but I remember hearing her voice).
I know – from what my parents and Brian have told me – that I underwent a lot of tests that day. I also know that I asked the same questions over and over again:
- Did I quit my job?
- Is that a good thing?
- Did Sue die?
Each time, they would answer me; only to have me ask again a few minutes later. The questions about my job made sense – it had virtually just happened days before. The questions about my friend Sue, not so much. She had died 2 years previous. Each time my mom would gently reply, telling me that Sue had died, but that her kids and husband were doing fine. I would cry and grieve. And then we’d do it all over again. And again. And again.
I went home from the hospital to my parents’ house (my mom thought it would be quieter and less stressful for me there). I remember laying on her couch, just starting to finally come out of the episode, and asking about Sue yet again. And sobbing.
The doctors at the hospital sent me home with a prescription of Ativan. I have to admit that being on a low dose of it made me realize that taking medication for emotional issues isn’t a bad thing. It really helped to calm me.
I was to see a neurologist. Fortunately for me, my niece works as a p.a. for a neurologist in the area, so I was able to get in with her. She’s the one who diagnosed the Transient Global Amnesia.
My pastor growing up has experienced TGA a few times over the years. I called him, and we shared our experiences with it – so similar. I remember him telling me that something he had learned about TGA is that the things that are in the forefront of your mind are the very things that you will question during an episode. Not surprisingly, despite 2 years of trying to heal, Sue’s death was front and center for me. (Even now, 4 1/2 years later, not a day goes by that I don’t think about her and miss her.)
In addition to the day that I had the amnesia, I also lost at least 2 weeks of my life. I remember nothing about our Christmas that year (thank goodness for pictures) or any of the other events that took place during the 2 weeks leading up to this day.
How I’m Dealing with It
We watched an episode of a show on Investigation Discovery about a girl who experienced TGA while driving. She was missing for MONTHS. I think that helped contribute to my fear of having an episode while in the car. My kids can be taught to call 911 if they are with me. But, what if I’m alone?
While they say episodes of TGA are often isolated and never happen again, my pastor has experienced it at least 3 times. That being said, I’m not very confident that it will never happen again.
I know that my particular episode of TGA was stress-induced, so I do try really hard not to allow myself to get to place where I am under that much stress again. (That’s hard, though, when I’ve got my hands in so many different pots and have so much responsibility.) I used to think that I strived on pressure; now I know better.
What About YOU?
Chances are, you probably haven’t experienced Transient Global Amnesia. But, what’s to say you won’t?
I encourage everyone I know to try to keep their lives as stress-free as possible. I know that sounds silly in this day and age – everyone is stressed.
My friend Ray woke up just fine on Sunday morning, but had a mini-stroke while showering. His story is so similar to mine. Stress does bad things to you. You might think you can handle it – you might just keep adding more things to your never-ending list of things to do – but eventually you WILL break under the pressure.
If you have experienced TGA, I’d love to hear your story.
Please leave a comment, or feel free to e-mail me privately.
Also, if you have a life experience that you feel would be beneficial to share with others,
I’d love to consider your guest post on my blog. Contact me!