She Can’t Remember: Riley Horner and her two hour memory


About nine years ago I suffered a concussion, falling and hitting the right side of my head on the granite base of an art piece.  Since then I have had both long term and short term memory issues.  I can easily forget things that aren’t reinforced with repetition or connected to other information (e.g. something specifically work related, or related to something from my past). I constantly use and depend on my phone to take pictures of paperwork since it’s faster than writing and cheaper than photocopying, plus there’s only one thing to carry.  There are gaps in my memory and of earlier events in my life that can be triggered by things from the same time period.  Both of these are annoying, but I can cope.

I have no self-pity because there are people who have it far worse.  Unlike many with Post-Concussion Syndrome, I don’t suffer chronic pain and I’m still able to function and work.  My biggest issue is emotional, occasional periods of inexplicable anger and have to watch myself.  Many people I talk to (in several Post-Concussion groups on facebook) are incapable of working, and have to deal with arrogant and inept doctors and social welfare systems who refuse to believe them, who disregard their symptoms.  Every brain injury is different, even when it happens to the same part of the head.

Facebook: Post Concussion Support-real support for all Concussion Types

Facebook: Canadian Post Concussion Syndrome support group

The people I feel the most empathy for are those who are have lost all ability to remember, like Riley Horner.  Did you see the movie “Memento”?  If only that were fiction.  From The Independent:

Teenager’s memory resets every two hours after being kicked in the head, meaning she wakes up thinking every day is 11 June

A teenager wakes up every morning thinking it is 11 June as her memory “resets” every two hours after she was kicked in the head.

Riley Horner, 16, has no recollection of the day she suffered a traumatic head injury after she was hit by a student crowdsurfing at a dance.

She has woken every morning since believing it is still 11 June – the day her life completely changed.

The former athlete and student, from Illinois, in the US, now has to keep detailed notes and photos with her at all times, and has a two-hour timer set on her phone.

Every time the timer goes off, Riley reads back over her notes to remind herself of everything she’s just learned but forgotten, including where her locker is.

[…]

“I’m not making memories and I’m just really scared,” Riley said.

This ABC news items about Horner is from September 11:

This is from September 17th:


There are many cases of people like Horner.  Sometimes the brain heals and some or all ability to remember comes back after weeks, months or years; sometimes, it never does.  As far as I know, there is no treatment and no way to predict who will improve.

There’s also the case of Clive Wearing, a British musician and composer whose brain was damaged by herpes simplex encephalitis in 1985.  His ability to remember lasts between ten seconds and a minute, his brain sometimes “resetting” mid sentence, leaving him incapable of holding conversations.  He is effectively disabled and lives in perpetual fear and confusion, despite the fact he is as mentally capable as he was in 1985.  He thinks no time has passed, but his wife is thirty four years older.  And the world around him looks drastically different than what he knew.

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