Last Friday morning, I came to my mom’s house with a strange and disturbing surprise. When I got out from the car, my mom’s helper told me ‘Di, si Mommy mo, walang maalala!’ (Di, your mom, she doesn’t remember things!) she had this worried look on her face – it was a scary type of worried look. I hurriedly went inside the house and found her sitting on the sofa with her legs crossed and she was teary eyed, she looked at me and said ‘Di? Anong nangyayari sa akin? Bakit, wala akong maalala?‘ (Di, what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I remember things?’). I held her hand and asked her a few questions. I asked her what her last memory was, and she said she doesn’t have any. I pulled Kailee towards her and asked if she knew who Kailee was – and she said yes. She knew everyone around – the house help, my kids, our driver and our boy. She said she couldn’t remember anything that happened the day before and the days prior to last Friday. My mom has a very good memory – she remembers things, and so this kind of behavior is really strange to us. She was just sitting there, teary eyed – looking helpless, staring into space. Confused.
Amnesia is just something that I read about and watch on TV shows and in movies. But last Friday, a day before my birthday – it stared at me right in the face.
She kept on asking us if she went to Mass that morning. She asked this almost every minute. Then she would ask what day it was – and I would tell her the date. She would then reply ‘Diba birthday niyo bukas?‘ (Tomorrow is your birthday, right?) After a few second, she would ask again if she head Mass, and what day it was. This question and answer portion went on for the next two hours. Our driver was so worried that he told me that he wanted to bring my mom to the hospital for check-up, they were worried that it might be a mild stroke or high blood. But before I went to any hospital, I had to know where to go and who to look for. I called one of my mom’s best friends – Auntie Cata, and I guess by the stroke of luck, I called her for a reason. She then told me to go to Dr. Libarnes of Cardinal Santos, she said that her sister had also experienced the same thing. After I put down the phone, I immediately called the hospital to inquire on Dr. Libarnes’ clinic hours – but was told that he was fully booked that afternoon. I called my aunt again and she suggested for me to go to the ER and ask for Dr. Libarnes, because he will be forced to see her when he gets to the hospital. So there, we decided to go to the ER of Cardinal Santos. I also called my pedia over at Cardinal to recommend and she referred me to the same doctor.
On the way to Cardinal Santos – the conversation was still the same. Mommy was asking me if she heard Mass that day and what day it was. She looked so confused and helpless. She asked this numerous time while we were in the car. I called my brother’s friend because I remembered his youngest sister, Nikki was stationed in the ER of Cardinal (at least I had a familiar face to look for). The question and answer portion still continued on until we reached the ER. I asked her if she remembered how many dogs we had – she said three and named them. We only had two left because one died last November. She said she didn’t remember Zowee passing away. I then asked her what year it was and she blurted out 2010. I then tricked her and said that if it was 2010 then Kailee wasn’t even born yet. She couldn’t even remember if Connor had his first birthday yet or not.
When we got to the ER, Nikki assisted us. She asked my mom questions and led us to a bed. The nurses took blood to test for glucose and for some chemistry. She then told me that they will give me an admission slip just in case we are advised to stay the night. I left my mom and proceeded to the admissions counter. When I got back – my mom was already talkative. She was sort of back to normal. She still kept on asking what happened to her and how she got to the ER. She still asked the same question if she heard Mass, but she was already aware what day it was that day. She then spoke to my brother on the phone and was clearly remembering more details. When I saw her, I was convinced that she was already back to normal. When she saw the time on her cellphone, she was shocked! She asked me what she did for the past 6 hours. Despite the ER doctors telling us to stay, we decided to come back home and just consult a doctor on our own. Dr. Libarnes was still no where near the hospital and my mom was getting anxious.
When we got home – my mom was still in a confused stage. She couldn’t recall certain things but I know she was trying her hardest to recall them. I told her not to force herself to recall anymore because it will do her no good. She stared blankly at times. I wondered if it was the air or what – because just a few hours ago, in the ER she seemed ok. The rest of the afternoon she tried to recall things and was successful. Slowly but surely we told her, and I kept on repeating for her not to try and remember anymore because it will just be frustrating on her part. I know I sounded really grouchy bordering bitchy already because she kept on asking what happened that day over and over again.
My mom was diagnosed with TRANSIENT GLOBAL AMNESIA. True enough, after 24 hours, she recalled everything that transpired the day before it happened. What she can’t remember now was the 24hour episode of the ‘amnesia day’. What she can remember are snippets of what happened that day like who Nikki was. She has no recollection of whatever transpired in the ER, the doctors asking her questions or even the phone conversation she had with my aunt. She remembers being home and feeling sleepy, but aside from that – it’s all blank. It’s good to know that this episode won’t happen again, since recurrence doesn’t usually happen. But boy was it scary.
I only thought that it happened it movies – and until I experienced it, I was so ignorant! What we see on TV that people having no recollection? Its no effing joke to the people around them, its quite scary and very very real. I was so scared and shocked. It was a good thing though, that I was totally calm that morning. I had the presence of mind to call the right person and do the right things. Had I panicked and let myself be affected immediately – I’m sure the whole household would be in chaos. I thank my lucky stars that I had the presence of mind to do what I needed to do, call who I needed to call, ask for advice from the right people. I think I was guided by something or someone. I am so thankful for this.
My mom is back to normal now. She’s back to her old self. She finds it strange what happened to her and sometimes asks us what happened. Its good that she’s not stressing too much on remembering every detail of her ‘amnesia day’ but she’d like to understand what happened. I told her that understanding will do her nothing. I got flack for being the grouchy bordering bitchy for telling her not to try remembering things anymore. I’ve apologized for that – I was already stressed out from what happened, my temper and stress eventually got to me, I guess.
One thing that I learned is that – to have presence of mind. Not to be afraid to ask for help and to ask questions. I am also thankful to the internet, I know some would say ‘self diagnosis’ but it made me more calm knowing that I can just google it and I’d have an idea on what it was. I initially thought that it might Alzheimer’s because of the memory loss – but I was told by the doctors that Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. We have a family history of Alzheimer’s – my grandmother’s sister had this – our dear Auntie Ama Rosie (God Bless her soul), who we always stay with whenever we were in LA.
I’m relieved that this episode is already done. Next order of business is to have a CT scan to make sure that everything is okay. ER doctors said that this is the best way to know what happened, they wanted to make sure that its nothing to worry about.
I am so thankful that this was just temporary. So, thankful!