Meet Clive Wearing; a man with the worst case of amnesia ever known. Twenty-five years ago he lost his memory and now his wife, Deborah, is the only person he recognises. He is constantly under the impression that he has just come out of a lengthy period of unconsciousness, so every time he sees her he greets her with the enthusiasm of being reunited after years apart.
Clive Wearing has a neurological disorder called anterograde amnesia which is a condition that doesn't allow new memories to transfer into long-term memory. This means that he will never remember anything since his incident, similar to Leonard in the movie Memento.
On March 29, 1985 Clive came home with a very bad headache which wouldn’t go away for days, and wouldn’t respond to any medication. By the fourth day he had a high fever, and forgot his daughter’s name; by the fifth day he was very delirious.
Clive had contracted the Herpes simplex virus which attacked his brain and caused damage to the left and right temporal lobes as well as the frontal lobe. The temporal lobes contain a structure called the hippocampus which is involved in memory function, and in Clive’s case the hippocampus has almost certainly been destroyed in both sides of the brain.
Before his illness, Clive was a successful musicologist and conductor. One of the few things that have survived intact is his ability to read music and play the piano.
Now his memory-span is so short that he will often forget the beginning of a sentence before you have completed it. Or he may begin answering a question but forget the question before he’s finished with his answer. It’s not uncommon to forget what you ordered for lunch by the time the food is served; but Clive additionally doesn’t remember which flavours belong to which foods.
written on 02-Jan-2010
Steph Yates says:
Interestingly I met for the first time an old family friend of ours just a few months ago. 20 years ago he was the pedestrian in a major car crash. He spent a week in a coma and when he finally came out of it had no memory at all. Gradually as the brain recovered he got most of his long term memory back but is left with a bad short-medium term memory. It's not appaulingly bad, I must say he hid it very well. It was only his wife who revealed the extent of it, but it's enough to make a significant impact on his life along with the fact that he was also made completely blind. The body can be such a strange thing. To this day he is left with almost no physical symptoms other than those mentioned, his body has managed to heal itself remarkably well coming as it did from the brink of death.
I can only think that memory loss must be one of the most bewildering and confusing things that can ever happen to a person.
I hope you and Kelley had a lovely New Year celebrating.