The Day That Went Missing: A First-Person Account of Transient Global Amnesia

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Abstract

In this vivid first-person case history, political reporter Trip Gabriel describes experiencing a classic episode of transient global amnesia. He was near the average target age of 61. Although no cause has been established for the syndrome, as with many other patients his episode appears to have been triggered by contact with water: He was racing a sailboat. While remaining alert and handling complex sailing maneuvers, he suddenly developed amnesia that left him with no recollection of finishing two races, returning to shore, drinking a beer with his friends, needing help finding his car, and not knowing where he was or where he lived. When he did not arrive home on time, his wife called him and quickly recognized his disorientation. She helped him drive himself home and took him to the hospital, where he was evaluated for a stroke. A brain magnetic resonance imaging scan was normal. He started to become aware again about 9 hours after the start of the attack, but was kept in the hospital until his anterograde amnesia resolved fully about 23 hours after onset. He has no memories of 12 hours (from 3 hours before the attack started through the time he regained awareness in the hospital). He was reassured to learn that a recurrence is unlikely. He finds parallels to his experience in the films Memento and Inside Out. A companion article provides expert commentary on the case report (Kirshner HS. 2017. Cogn Behav Neurol. 30:5-7).

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