Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rebounding from Oblivion Su Meck Describes Recovery from Traumatic Brain Injury in 'I Forgot to Remember'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rebounding from Oblivion Su Meck Describes Recovery from Traumatic Brain Injury in 'I Forgot to Remember'

Article excerpt

"I Forgot to Remember: A Memoir of Amnesia"

By Su Meck

Simon & Schuster ($25)

"You might wonder how it feels to wake up one morning and not know who you are," writes Su Meck. In a casual, matter-of-fact style, Ms. Meck recounts the harrowing experience of waking up in a hospital bed without the faintest idea of who she was. Her book, "I Forgot to Remember: A Memoir of Amnesia" explores her ongoing recovery from a traumatic brain injury that literally erased her mind.

Ms. Meck has no recollection of what she refers to as "my first life" or her memories up to that fateful night in 1988 when a ceiling fan fell on her head. The injury left her suffering from complete retrograde amnesia, a condition that wiped out her ability to remember facts or recall past experiences.

She writes about her first 22 years as if she is a different person altogether. "She never knew me, and I know nothing of her except what people have told me," she writes. "She rebelled; I conform. She broke rules; I follow them."

In the immediate aftermath of the injury, it was difficult for family members or even doctors to grasp the severity of Ms. Meck's condition. But the married woman could not recognize the face of her husband nor recall that she had two young toddlers.

It soon became obvious that this was only scratching the surface of the problem. As she explains: "I didn't know the purpose of school, or that I had ever attended one. I didn't know what a city was; the name Fort Worth did not register, nor did the terms Texas, United States, and Earth."

Still, doctors discharged Ms. Meck after a mere three-week hospital stay. Without any visible trace of brain damage on her MRIs, some specialists suggested that Ms. Meck's amnesia was psychological. Eventually, Ms. Meck and her husband decided to forgo seeing specialists altogether. …

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