Blanks: does anyone have blanks when in hospital? - Headway


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Blanks: does anyone have blanks when in hospital?


I am struggling sometimes with the blanks in my story. I remember phoning 999 at home, the paramedics arriving and my last memory is sitting in excruciating pain in A & E and then nothing for five days. Apparently I was able to communicate to the consultants prior to operation, afterwards I think I was sleeping for four days. When I was fully conscious I didn't realise what I had been through, I had no memory. My memory was in pieces but I didn't know why. I came home nine days later and tried to have a cigarette and a glass of wine as if nothing had happened. I was back in hospital, in high dependency the next day with a vasospasm. Once again i have no memory of the first week, I started to form memories a week later. The blanks play on my mind sometimes, I always feel I am searching to put the pieces together. The conversations I had with consultants, family, friend all gone, not retained for a nano second! I know I should let it go; may be that is the lesson, to let things go that are not important?

27 Replies

I have virtually no memory of nine weeks of my life, three of them spent in a coma, so that's perhaps understandable. I have no memory of the accident, only what I've been told. There is little memory of my family and close friends travelling to another country to be at my bedside for days on end. In total I recall approximately ten minutes, snippets of time, the odd 'experience' all totalling that 600 seconds.

I tried very hard (for years) to drag up memories, to recall events. I wanted to know what actually happened on that fateful day, but I eventually realised that I was wasting my time. My brain, my memory, has decided in it's infinite wisdom to shield me from that information and once I got past the intense frustration I came to accept that. Maybe one day the occasional second or two might pop back into the old memory banks but if it doesn't I'm long beyond caring.

It's gone now, perhaps it's best I don't remember, I'll never know. I soon realised that I had to concentrate all of my efforts into forming new memories, events I would remember. A cliche maybe, yet undoubtedly true.

Alicedenham in reply to BaronC

How very true - is it history and it has gone. Better to concentrate on the here and now. It am moving into the phase now, but it did take a while to stop trying to regain memories that weren't there!

My Jake remembers very little of his first 4 months in hospital for which I am VERY grateful. It was a truly awful time. I do understand though that this might one day make him feel like he's lost something. It must feel very weird for you.

I suffered a SAH in 2010 Don't remember much of my 3 weeks in hospital only what i;ve been told and few random memories. Maybe it is best that we don't remember . Best wishes

I got a TBA in 2005. I am missing several years of memory from before the accident (including moving house, and having a second baby!), and 6 months completely, afterwards. I had no idea why my husband kept bringing this cute little baby into hospital, or why he took me to a house. I remembered our flat, why were we going to a different town, and an ex-council house?

Then my memory is really patchy, for a few more months. I works fine, now, thankfully!

WOW that is quite something. So glad things have return to 'normal', whatever that is!

Thank you for your comments. I have been lucky in that my husband took a few pictures when I was in hospital which helps. I think relatives need to be made aware that memory may be an issue and to keep a diary of the time in hospital: video, photo or written one. I asked so many questions, over and over again to try and understand what had happened. I think I put my relatives under a lot of pressure asking them to remember the conversations in hospital that I couldn't remember or were not aware of. When I returned to the hospital for a check up six months later I saw someone taking a video diary of someone with a brain aneurysm, I thought that would be useful when the person goes home as they would have something to refer too. Some might see that as gruesome but I think it is a great idea!

Hi Alice, Not sure if its the same for you but its only been recently that I am looking for answers. The first few months I didnt ask much at all but now Im reading everything I can get my hands on. My girls also wrote me letters in the first few weeks which I treasure because they are precious obviously but they also wrote down some details I didn't now. Im also asking family to recount everything about those early weeks now. I also have a couple of photos taken in hospital, it doesnt seem like us tho does it? I still cant really take it in.

Take care and speak soon xx

Alicedenham in reply to Jigsaw

Hi Linda,

OMG I could not stop asking questions. Many of them over and over again. I think because of the stroke I couldn't retain the information and or make any sense of what had happened. Certainly in the first year my family were always being questioned about one thing or another! I did keep a diary for a number of months after coming out of hospital, mainly to practice writing. Although some pages don't make sense!! Speak soon xx

Prompted by the brain injury team at St George's, we took regular photos and kept a visitors book that anyone who came added to in the first few months, making comments about how he was doing and anything noteworthy that happened. I also write a weekly(ish!) blog that I started the week after his accident. Hopefully these will be useful to Jake when he is ready to read them.

Well done you! I am sure that he will need it in his journey of recovery and be grateful to have it, that is a great gift. I wonder if the medical teams across the country share good practice. St George's team should be applauded. Good luck with Jake, your journey must be difficult too. My thoughts go with you, don't stop the diary. A x

I had a serious car accident last Feb and have no memory of the day of the accident, the accident itself and my first 3 weeks in hospital and my next 3 weeks in hospital are quiet hazy. It use to bother me but now I am grateful as I realised just how scared and in pain I would have been. At times I just feel so guilty that my husband, the rest of my family and friends all remember it so vividly! I personally think you don't remember because your brain had to shut down to just deal with keeping you alive and getting better and it's a good thing that you have no memories of a very traumatic and difficult time. Hope you feel better about it soon.

Thanks Zoe. Sounds like you had a terrible time. I think it is a phase I have been going though and am coming out the other side. It is interesting to hear what others have been through and how they are dealing with the blanks. I am glad you are feeling better now.

Like the others I can't remember a thing of the day I had my SAH. I couldn't describe where I was at the time or how i felt and then I have no memories for the first two weeks of hospital either but I was in HDU. I think the brain protects you from the memory maybe? Interestingly I horrified my family when I posted my whereabouts onto Facebook from HDU but i had no recall that I had done that so it was like my day to day memory shut down for a while.

I do agree with the video idea on one level. I had a SAH in Dec.2011 and I remember calling for help just before unconsciousness, but then nothing for three weeks. Apparently, I was speaking with the paramedics, nursing staff and family - all of which I found astonishing, having believed I had been unconscious during that whole time. I heard stories of some pretty out of character behaviour on my part much of which,with hindsight, was really amusing but I don't remember any of it. So, yes, I have often wished there was a video record of this missing

piece of my life - such a significant piece - which would fill in all the blanks.

I did go back to the empty bed in ICU six months later and looked around at everything which my son and daughter hoped would look familiar- nothing! The nurses who had cared for me looked familiar but, sadly, I had no actual memory of them,

However, I am thankful for one area of memory loss, which is the pain I apparently suffered and which, I am told, was dreadful to watch. I, like many, am the sort of person to roll such memories round and around in my head - so that's one I'm happy to have missed.

But on a different level, I know it's easy to wish for something after the event but who would dare to suggest such an idea in what is actually a life and death situation. My daughter says she now wishes she'd kept a detailed diary but it's easier now,with hindsight, than when you're in the middle of such a traumatic situation. This is such a shocking event for loved ones and I've found that they needed to go over and over the details of the whole ordeal for their own sakes, so don't worry about putting pressure on relatives. We can't make any sense of these illnesses---it's just rotten luck---but talking does slowly get things into perspective and (hopefully) fill in some of the blanks.

Eventually (I hope) you can let go of the need to remember all the details and accept that they are irrelevant now. Also.our brains have a way of protecting us from stuff best forgotten !

Best wishes to you, x

Thanks for comments. I also have been told that I was communicating with the medical staff, like you I don't remember. I was told by the consultant that the brain shuts down anything not required for survival. I do accept that is history and there is no use crying over spilt milk but every now and again I go over it like playing the same record! Like you i'm glad I don't the remember the pain or the pulling out of needles when in HDU!! :)

Keep well, x

It used to bother me terribly. I had some what i can only explain as photo shots. I can see a coat someone had on but have no idea who had it on. I remember a foot in the bed next to me. Apparently my daughter came to see me in the hospital and was upset because i spoke to my mum and my man but it took along time till i spoke to her and i didnt know her name. I have memory of this at all. I was also constantly asking for paracetamol and a cup of tea because i had a headache, including when i was on morphine!

Mr Gentleman said it was like a tv losing its signal, you cant get back the programe because it wasnt there, the confusion and word finding etc it was like a filing cabinet where everything was thrown out in the accident and someone just came and picked everything up and shoved it all in best they could and it would take time for me to organise the files, some would be missing, some jumbled and some perfect.

I remeber the whell whipping round and then a flash of lights, then those sort of snap shots, some pieces of some events and nothing of others. I couldnt say when i had a working memory back. I do recall the first thought that made me scared and made me cry, i was in the bath and my hair was wet and i couldnt work out if i had washed my hair or if i had wet it to wash it. I remeber that! I moved house after the accident and dont remember it although i do remember the kitchen and the front drive from the house we stayed in before we moved to Scotland. Memory is bizarre. :-)

cat3 in reply to Danslatete

Such a poetic account of your experience & quite moving.

Hope you stay well. Best wishes x

What a story. I particularly like the cup of tea makes every better. :) I am so glad things have improved. Must have been hard for your daughter, great that you both have come through a terrible experience. Hope life is treating you well in Scotland. Stay well x

My Mum, Cat3 (above!) thought I was the girl who lived across the road during one of my visits, and she looked really happy to see "her" ! I do wish I had kept a diary but at the time it seemed inappropriate, fortunately I remember a lot of it and can relay most of the events to her! From a spectators point of view, I am glad she is unable to recall some of the experience as much of it was pain and confusion.

Alicedenham in reply to Lubilu01

Great that she has you now and she can ask you questions if needed. Take care x

Thanks H.(Lubilu) xxx Mum.



I struggled for a long time over the memory issue. I had TBI & have no memory of it or the following nearly 5 weeks. But I did have bits & pieces I can remember; the father of a child I was teaching was a doctor & he came to see me - vaguely remember that; I remember waiting for a scan; getting in a wheelchair to see a neuropsych. My doc told me the brain shuts down to protect you, and as someone above said, to deal with the getting better.

I was briefly unconscious (no-one seems to know how long for) but I was walking around, talking & offering anyone who came near me a G&T! It was extremely hot weather when the accident happened & I thought I'd been to Australia (where I went for the summer a couple of years previously) and referred to the hospital as a hotel.

I wanted to know exactly what I had done (did I throw up? Pee? Worse??!) when the accident happened. I found out that it took 4 men to get me into a helicopter as the confusion & fear made me so strong & determined. Normally I'm more of a retiring type so I'm quite proud of that :-)

I found it incredibly strange that I'd been communicating with everyone & yet had no recollection of anything. One friend kept telling me how amusing I was. We are no longer in touch, as I find nothing about the loss of my career & change in my personality amusing at all.

There are some great answers above, I hope you can draw on some of them and manage to move forward. I think it's natural to want to understand what on earth happened! Best of luck with your recovery.



p.s. I'm a teacher & was always v proud of learning the children's names on the first day. That went completely out of the window for a few years, but finally, I'm really getting there! You'll be amazed by the progress you make even after a long period of time (It's nearly 13 years for me!).

Thanks for your comments. It is nice to know that you can' talk to others who understand the initial need to remember and then work through the confusion of not remembering and finding out that is normal for lots of people with brain injuries. If that makes sense.

My sisters told me that I was shouting NO at the top of my voice when in the critical care unit, took me three days before i eventually calmed down. Naturally I don't remember any of that! Love the idea of the hotel though, very creative.

It is amazing how the body protect us from the worst, giving us a fighting chance to recover. I am starting to understand healing takes time. Well done in your journey sounds like you have made great progress. Thanks for sharing your experience. Keep well x

your lost then found! i think we are ment to forget as why would we want a memory of such a horrible painful time. time to make new memories. lots of them ..x

Thanks you are right :)

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