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I Missed My Birthday? Darn!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 11:00 PM

Mary Sue Campbell Mary Sue Campbell, still from "It's Tuesday! (Transient Global Amnesia)" (Christine Campbell/Youtube)

Here's Christine Campbell's video of the 90-second-ish long conversation she had with her mom, Mary Sue, for 9 hours one day in 2010. You can hear more about what happened in our Loops episode.

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Comments [6]

Bobby401 from Seattle WA

I was travelling in Italy with my wife Marianna and her sister and nephew. We had spent the day on the Amalfi Coast and were on the ferry headed back to Sorrento when a storm blew up. By the time we reached the Sorrento marina, there was plenty of wind, rain, thunder and lightning. The marina is at the base of a high cliff. Sorrento is at the top of the cliff and the only way from the marina to Sorrento is via bus or climbing a long set of stairs. We took the stairs. I hung back a little from the rest of the group and we decided to meet at our B&B on the main street in Sorrento.
When I reached the main street the storm was in full fury. I turned left on the main street but realized that I should have turned right. At this point, I was about ¼ mile from our lodgings. The B&B was on the upper floors of a building with few signs to identify it. I found it easily and ascended the 3 flights of stairs to our room. When I reached the second floor, I realized that I had to find a restroom quickly so I tossed my green travel bag onto the stairs to the 3rd floor and requested permission to use the toilet in Marianna’s sister’s apartment.
When I exited their apartment, I was confronted by the other 3 wondering what took me so long. At that point, I couldn’t remember where I was. They thought that I might have had a stroke and hurried to find some help. In the meantime, I went with Marianna to our third floor apartment. I still didn’t know where I was and wondered what I was doing in Italy, much less Sorrento. Nothing was familiar, although in retrospect, I seem to remember being in a bad state in the apartment with Marianna.
I was hustled off to an Italian emergency clinic that was just a few blocks away. At that point my memory was returning and I wondered why we were going to a clinic. I was quite lucid at this point and submitted to a battery of tests, including an EKG, to try to determine the state of my health. All was well. The doctor advised me to rest for a day or so before continuing on our journey. We did that and had a lovely day In Sorrento. The rest of the 3 week long vacation trip was spent without medical incident and my memory of all but the ½ hour or so with Transient Global Amnesia (TGA) was intact. At this point no one including the Italian doctors knew what had caused my problems. I was not allowed to drive.
On return to the US, we stopped to visit an old friend who was a brain researcher, retired from NIH. He immediately recognized it as TGA and assured me that it was a rare occurrence and not likely to be repeated. At home in Seattle, another series of tests was performed including another EKG, and MRI and an Echo test on my carotid. All was normal. I have not had another episode since that time in Italy in 2007.

Oct. 09 2014 02:55 PM
Brianna from Astoria, Oregon

A very similar thing happened with my mother-in-law, though I wasn't there when it happened and I believe it was for a much shorter period of time. My in-laws are pretty level headed people so I don't think they worried too much after it had passed, but it was scary at the time. I was relieved to hear this show because I realized that it does happen to other people, which can be a great relief, though it is still nerve-wracking when it happens.

Sep. 04 2014 10:56 PM
Fred Lilienkamp from Massachusetts

Part 2: I was released the next day. All my memory now is back - EXCEPT those 3 hours of the concert. The docs said it would NEVER come back-EVER. Which is true so far. Fortunately, a friend videotaped the entire concert. I watched it. I could play and sing just fine - normal - until the last 3 tunes - I started to forget words, but played the guitar just fine. Laura quickly picked up something was wrong with me, She took over the last 2 tunes. Most people didn't know anything was wrong. Then Renee whisked me away in her car. It is my and the doc’s opinion that excitement and stress, coupled with vigorous use of the brain, plus other unique factors, may help bring on a TSA.
This is the advice part: After my regular doctor went through the UMASS 10 page report - he freaked out at me! HE was very concerned. He said I had to STOP EATING SUGAR IMMEDIATELY! Huh? No cookies - NO!. No ice cream?- NO! no..? NO!NO!NO!. Also NO ALCOHOL!! This was bad... no beer? NO! no gin and tonics? (My favorite summer drink) NO!. Alcohol becomes sugar. He hinted that I was shaping up to get Alzheimer's - or worse. Little flakes of that plaque entering the brain was BAD,BAD,BAD. Sugar intake must be reduced drastically. He even put me on his scale and said I had to lose 30 lbs. Sigh. For someone with a sweet tooth and German heritage (my love of good beer is genetic),this was very distressing to me. And I make beer, also. However, I am following doctor's orders. I immediately stopped eating pie, cookies, cake, candy, and the worst - ice cream. I have found some sugarless substitutes. I went from 8-10 drinks/2 weeks to 1. I have a complete blood panel coming up in 2 weeks so we'll see if there are any improvements in cholesterol, triglycerides - ect. My head does feel a bit clearer and I have lost 12 lbs in 6 months. Wish me luck. It is not easy...the cravings can be very strong. But I continue cutting back 90% of the bad stuff. My advice - the mother should do the same. She looks a bit overweight. Having a daughter and a spouse support your effort is a big plus. I'm sure we both want to spend a lot of time with our daughters in our 60's 70's, 80's or more; while in our right minds. I intend to keep playing music with my daughter for many, many more years. It's better than any beer, ice cream, or gin and tonic. It's the best thing in the world.

Sep. 02 2014 02:26 PM
Fred lilienkamp from Massachusetts

Part 1 : I had an episode of Transient Global Amnesia (TSA) this March - 2014. The symptoms noted here, and the videoed experience the mother is having were EXACTLY like my experience. I will tell you my story, followed by some advice.......
I am a man, 64 yrs old. 6', 235lbs (at the time of the attack)I am a musician and a technical trainer. I do not take drugs except prescriptions. I do not smoke. I have a drink every now and then. The occasion was that I had set up a concert at our town library. My daughter (Laura)plays viola. I play guitar, banjo, and mandolin, and sing. We had rehearsed 30 fiddle tunes and folk songs for the 2 hour concert. We felt very confident. I was very excited about this as this was the first time we had played together at a public concert event. We had played together before at different parties and small things. Mostly she is a classical player but I got her to play by ear, improvise, and play fiddle tunes.Playing music with my daughter is the absolutely best thing in the world!
The last thing I remember before the attack was that we were setting up. I put away my cases and greeted my neighbor who had just come in. The next thing I remember was being in my wife's (Renee) car. She was driving me to the hospital. I don't remember a single note of the concert. Nor do I remember any of the people I talked to. About 3 hours of my memory were gone - forever.
I was extremely upset as I was sure I had a stroke, and I couldn't remember playing the music with Laura. I also went into an endless loop with Renee. I asked her what happened? She told me. I asked her what happened to the instruments? She said our friends took them home. Then the loop started - "What happened? Where are the instruments?" Eerily - I was also in about a 90 second loop. Finally she got irritated - "I've told you 27 times now what happened and you don't remember the answers! Don't ask me again - try to relax!"
We arrived at the Gardner hospital. they had no neurologist. An ambulance took me to UMASS medical center in Worcester, MA. I was put in the ER. They did many tests. Slowly, I could expand on my 90 second loop more and more. I slept that night. The next morning, I was able to remember things before and after the attack - but not during the attack. All the neurologists at UMASS med squeezed into my room - all 4 of them, including the head of neurology. I was tested. poked, pinched and prodded. They ordered an MRI. I all ready had a CAT scan and EEG. After more tests they came back. No evidence of a stroke - good. It was a TGA attack. Rare - 1 in 3000 chance. Almost always in middle aged or older men. Chances of reoccurrence - 5%. (to be cont'd)

Sep. 02 2014 02:10 PM
Peg Furey from Colorado (but I don't know what day it is)

What a loving daughter to do that for 2.5 hours. My sister had a concussion and we went through a similar experience. It was very frustrating as we drove down from the mountains to have to tell her over and over what happened. The fear is very sad to watch. At least this mom doesn't seem fearful.

Aug. 30 2014 10:00 PM
Iusedtododrugs

I don't think that this comment is quite appropriate for who I imagine is the average listener of radiolab but I thought the parallels were worth mentioning...

So I had this happen to me once. Almost exactly, except for the fear and anxiety was much more intense. My memory went down to the last thing I said. I ended up just asking the same questions over and over and over again; where are we going? Am I safe? Why can't I remember? and a couple of other ones that I don't remember anymore. This was 10 years ago as of this summer.

What really intrigued me was how the story described it as a "puzzle" because that's how I described it afterwards. One noticeable difference was that my suddenly ended and there are no words for what my thoughts "felt" like in that moment. The analogy I used was my mind was like a Rubik's cube and then all of a sudden after what seemed like hours trying to solve it, it all just clicked, and I was normal again.

This is apparently what can happen when you ingest too much psilocybin.

Aug. 29 2014 02:30 PM

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