Posted on May 20, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 2 of 20 in the series Jeremiah

Amnesia From Severe TBI: Jeremiah Part Two

The most significant indicator of severity of brain injury, is the length of amnesia from severe TBI, for events both before and after the injury.  Jeremiah had given us a very detailed description of what caused the accident.  Sometimes such memories can be the result of confabulation, the process of the brain filling in holes in memory with something that seems to make internal sense.  Thus, I asked him whether he actually remembered what happened in the wreck because of his amnesia from severe TBI :

No, but oddly enough I do, I did remember the computer on the seat and reaching for it.  I don’t know how long after I came out of the coma I was in but I told a friend of mine what happened.  Now, I don’t remember that now but, I remembered it oddly enough shortly after the accident.

With your amnesia from severe TBI, do you remember anything else in the month of your accident – October of 2003?

Yes, actually oddly enough too, I remember two days before that helping move some furniture and such.  It was for my younger brother and I was with my brother-in-law and he and myself, maybe we’re the only three but, because I was in the back of a pickup truck traveling but, I didn’t get injured, of course, in that.

I remember work because I remember what I was doing and I remember the people that I was talking to at my new job, because it was a, a pretty good position and, you know, I was looking forward to it all.

Other than this one isolated memory you have about the accident itself, in terms of amnesia from severe TBI  for events before the accidents, would you say 2 days, 5 days, 15 days?

On, well amnesia was years before the accident as well because I lost much memory that I had prior to the accident but, little things here and there I did not lose apparently.  Or now I have lost them, some of them.

But, like for instance, I guess, I was speaking French, which I hadn’t had since – I had one semester in college, one summer semester.  And, I was talking to my wife’s friend who speaks fluent French in Canada and, I guess, I don’t remember doing that but, I guess, I was speaking French pretty well.  And, and I, I’ve had many people say that I, I sound like I’m foreign accent as well so.

See our later discussion of Dysprosody, foreign accent syndrome, in Part Seven below.

So you have not just a period of pre-accident amnesia from severe TBI , but you have lost selective memories going back throughout your life prior to the accident because of your amnesia from severe TBI?

Yeah, it doesn’t seem as much as long-term memory losses as much as it does, you know, but about like, I guess, if years are long term, like yeah there’s a lot I can’t remember from the 90s, that I had remembered.

But, the thing about this period of time was that there you need – I believe you need to be plugged into the time, given a prompt for it and given someone who will tell you about it and such and for that period of time we didn’t reflect on that period much at all.  And, so I believe that that is why, why I don’t remember it as much maybe but, I’m not sure because they told – the doctors told me that I had a severe traumatic brain injury and that many areas of my brain were damaged and very so.

It is likely that he has less total amnesia from severe TBI  for events before the accident, retrograde amnesia from severe TBI, than he has trouble accessing his memory –  as if the index or table of contents has been lost because of his amnesia from severe TBI.  It is likely that those memory are still there,  just hard to access.  I asked him as if someone had taken away the index to his memories with his amnesia from severe TBI:

Oh yes.  I believe, you know, probably a worse way to say it would be like if, you know, you scrambled something.  Scrambled an egg, you mix it all, of course, your, your brain.  But if you think about what happens when your brain is so badly injured, you know, with that huge impact and brain cells are both killed and they drift apart and die, and connections are torn which kill brain cells, but also if, if the brain cells even would live you wouldn’t have the connection.  So now you have to find the routes in your brain that hopefully are, are available and are – you can develop quickly enough so can use them.

Can you think of an analogy in the engineering world to what you’re describing?

Well, I’m not an electrical engineer – say you dropped your computer from 10 foot up, and it shocked it so badly, that would affect the memory in the computer, the RAM in it and probably the ROM as well, and probably even the, the IC would be damaged as well.

So, how is it going to work when you next log into use your computer?  First of all, it may not work at all which is the very unfortunate thing for so many who didn’t even live.  But also it may work just a tiny bit and it may send you out things that don’t even make sense and so this similar to what, what a person of a brain injury or myself, as well, had experienced.  Very analogous to that because of the shock and all.

He was hospitalized at the UW Hospital for a little over two months.  His coma was a week to ten days.  What are the things that you do remember with your amnesia from severe TBI at UW Hospital?

Well, I can remember for instance a friend of mine from high school works there and I can remember one time her coming in though, I guess, she many times would come in to visit.  She’s a nurse there.  And, then I remember a friend from – that I would ride horses with who came up one time on Thanksgiving Day and gave us – we may have eaten Thanksgiving meal with her, but she, she took us outside for a walk to her car and then drove my wife and I right around the hospital and back.

To view: MoreOnAmnesia from severe TBI:

Next in Part Three – Other Physical Injuries

By Attorney Gordon Johnson

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447