Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Community News Network

February 1, 2013

Virginia woman pieces together 17 years lost to amnesia

(Continued)

Some physicians have suggested to Shawnda that the cocktail of steroids and other drugs she was prescribed might have caused the memory loss, but Nath said that was unlikely. Still, he said that it's puzzling that she lost so much, so abruptly.

From 2005 on, Shawnda began counting her birthdays at zero, signifying that while her body is 38, she has only eight years and counting of life experience. She refers to herself pre-amnesia as "she" and "her," rather than "I" and "me."

She had to relearn virtually everything since adolescence. As her symptoms regularly confined her to the house and to bed, she watched TV for cues on the rhythms and tools of human interaction. The characters in daytime soap operas and syndicated sitcoms at night, especially "George Lopez," served as her examples of how to talk and act.

"I know that life is not a sitcom," she said in an interview in 2012. "But I also want people to understand that's how I've had to learn. I don't know any life any other way, because I lost my memory. People had the opportunity to come out of the womb and go through school and learn friendships and stuff. I lost all that."

She watched the same shows every day, latching onto anything that could become familiar in a hurry. She used her daughter's math homework to relearn multiplication tables. Even when Shawnda learned how to operate a cellphone again, she didn't know any of the names in it. Marsha told her what she could about the names she knew.

When Shawnda did try to reconnect with the people in the contacts list, their meetings were often awkward and pointless. Old friends would sometimes be frustrated that anything they brought up from the past was lost on her. For Shawnda, trying to explain what was wrong with her mind to someone she couldn't remember was exasperating. "I'd just sit in tears the whole time," she said.

Text Only
Community News Network
Biz Marquee
AP Video
Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: MH17 Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball