Question - might lost memories return: I have a... - ICUsteps


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Question - might lost memories return

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I have a 3week gap in my memories before I was brought to a&e, including no memory at all of what happened to cause the problem in the first place. I assume this is the result of drugs.

I know there is unlikely to be a definite answer but can anyone give me some idea of the likelihood of any of those memories ever returning, or are they gone for ever?

4 Replies


This is my personal experience and no doubt it is different for everyone but my answer is in 2 parts.

1. Whilst in ICU I have no memory of what happened other than my own reality that is living in. I am content with that!

2. I went into hospital towards the middle of Nov ‘19 and readmitted at the beginning of December and then going into icu before Christmas.

I have no memory pre ICU and in fact have worked out that I can’t remember anything before 1st Oct. there was a significant birthday and the only reason I know is because of photographs. The are other events which I have no idea about. Initially I was quite upset about this loss and found it unacceptable that people said get over it! However I have since had CBT, I have a greater understanding of why memory is important to me and because of that I am more acceptable of the loss.

As an aside as a result of my ICU reality I have difficulty in working out which of my memories are in fact memories.

My current thoughts are:

I don’t remember what I did in Jan 2019 so why should I care about having forgotten Jan 2021?

But I do care about not knowing about what happened. No one knows because I was alone. What bothers me is that I might suddenly remember, and it will be such an unpleasant memory that it will come as a huge shock, or that something apparently innocuous will trigger a massive panic attack that I won’t know where it came from.

They reckon I must have lain on the floor for 3 days. Did I think I was dying? If so, was I calmly resigned to it or in a desperate panic? Either seems possible. Or maybe I was unconscious. According to the summary I’ve managed to get of my medical notes, “no definite diagnosis was made.” Which isn’t very helpful.

If I knew for sure that I will never know, I would just invent the scenario that suits me best, but while there’s a chance o memories returning I will always wonder.


I’ve not gain any further memory and that is after 5yrs. Tbh I’m not bothered that I don’t remember much because I was obviously in a great deal of discomfort.

Memory loss & cognitive dysfunction are due to more things than the drugs but it is worth considering that some of the sedatives have two contributing actions - they cause both retrograde and anterograde amnesia.

Ie I can’t recall episodes from the past and I struggle to remember/learn new things.

The most confusing thing for me is that I am unsure with certainty as to what is a real memory on occasion.

My memory is totally foggy after being in ICU, as is what was real and what was not.What I now recall is built up from a combination of what people tell me, and what unexpectedly returns.For example until last week I thought I was in a coma for a month, it now turns out it was 6 weeks. But I had created a "false" two week period where I was awake, and had filled it with "real" memories.

I was a bit stunned to stumble on the truth.

Similarly, my family had sent a Get Well Soon card before I was put under. I had 100% forgotten until I found a photo of it on my phone the other day.

That then triggered other snippets of forgotten time.

So to conclude, yes it will come back but not in one big blanket of memory, it will be in small pieces and chunks of remembering that have to be pieced together.

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