Sunday, January 17, 2010


On Friday, Dan found the video tape of our wedding day on the shelf in the office and asked if he could watch the "new movie". I obliged. I'd never watched more than the first couple minutes.

Dan was pretty excited to see all of the people he knew in the movie, and asked if he could go in the movie. The movie was bittersweet for me. It warmed my heart to remember all of the joy of the event and see all of the people who celebrated with us. I wept, though, when I saw my grandfather in the video. This was the first time I'd seen him since his death almost exactly a year ago. Maybe Dan found the video when he did for a reason.

We didn't finish the video until Saturday morning. Then, at noon, we got a phone call from my sister saying my dad had been brought to the emergency room with some sort of amnesia. He had no short term memory (kept repeating questions), thought the year was 2004 and couldn't remember anything from the past five years — including his grandchildren. By the time I had the kids ready and the car packed for the trip up north, the results of his EKG had come back normal, but he still couldn't recall any recent memories and was still repeating himself. Talk about scary! Just the thought of Dad not remembering Dan and Monika made my insides curl.

We're still up north now. Dad was discharged this afternoon. The CT Scan of his brain came looked normal, with no evidence of a stroke (one of the suspected causes) or brain trauma (the other suspected cause, since one of the panels on his squeeze chute fell on his head last October, hitting him hard enough that Dad said he could feel his brain bounce). His memory started to return by about 4 p.m. When we arrived at the hospital at 9 p.m. he recognized the kids and knew Monika's name was spelled with a K. He didn't remember the 45-minute conversation we had on Friday night, but after I told him he recalled that we'd talked about how to fix one of the stall dividers in the barn.

The doctor isn't sure what caused the temporary loss of memory. It turns out both my grandfather and my dad's uncle had similar experiences in the past, but family history doesn't help us make a diagnosis. It could have been transient global amnesia, a sudden, temporary episode of memory loss that can't be attributed to a more common neurological condition, such as epilepsy or stroke. Or it could have been a very mild, mini-stroke. Dad will be following up with his regular doctor this week to run some more tests. Regardless of the cause, Dad's condition was extremely frightening for him and for all the rest of us. It was a stark reminder that memory is not something we should take for granted. Take care of your brain!

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