I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘wish I was a bug on the wall.’ Right? Well, I have to say that at this part of my story, I wish I was a bug on that hospital wall, twenty-five years ago to watch myself, seeing what I was like those first few days after ‘waking up,’ viral encephalitis being the reason I was there. (1*)
I remember the look on people’s faces the first time they saw me. Or, should I say, the first time it seemed to me I saw them. Remember, I did not recall seeing anyone for eight or nine days, even though I was awake and somewhat alert. I can tell you, though, that there was much worry from not only family but also the doctors, as they were not completely sure the first few days what was wrong. Thankfully, after about four days, more proof was showing that it was encephalitis. But still, just knowing what it was didn’t cause instant relief or improvement.
When I finally did, ‘wake-up,’ they all shared a huge sigh of relief.
Okay. There I was. Inside what seemed to me to be this new home, slowly getting used to seeing a few people who all had the same first name: Doctor.
Now from this point on, I am going to tell you a simplified version of what occurred. I’ll share more detail about it in my future book, but for now I’ll just say the doctors could tell, after spending only a few minutes with me, that I was like a little baby. Even though I could talk—not normally mind you, but enough to say, while feeling this terrible pain in my head, simple sentences like “Where am I?” “Who are you?” and, “Why do I have all this long skinny things sticking to my body?” — I was able to talk but still acted very young. For instance. one of the doctors held his tie up to me.
“What is this?” he asked.
But I didn’t say anything. My hand just slowly got hold of his tie, bringing it to my mouth as a little baby would. Of course he moved it back as he saw my mouth opening. Next he held something else, something small like a pen. That, too, I tried to bring to my mouth. I wasn’t sure what these things were because it seemed to me to be the first time I had ever seen them. You can picture right now little babies doing just that, right? Well, that was me. A twenty-three year-old baby, using her mouth to help her know what things were.
The doctors then began pointing to things. “What is this called?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you know what this is for?”
“No,” I’d say, after being tested with a few other common items around that room. Time and time again “I don’t know” was my answer. Or if it was something I did (YAY!) remember, I had no idea what it was called. Soon, different types of questions began. Of course I, again, don’t remember them to a ’T’ but they were not questions that had to do with things right in front of me: word-retrieving tasks type instead.
“I’d like you to tell me as many fruits as you can,” one doctor said.
“What’s a fruit?” I answered
“Okay… How about you tell us any type of food you can think of.”
“Instead, tell us the name of anything you have seen.”
Of course I don’t remember what I said, now twenty-eight years later, but there was a list. However, it sure wasn’t much. After a few more word-retrieving tasks, good news was shared.
“Marianne, thankfully we have found that you do have stored past memory. Your brain, however, is now not letting you remembering it as well as before.Our task now, while checking more on how you are physically, is to find out more how much work is needed to get your memory better.”
I’m sure if I was a bug on that wall watching, I would have felt sorry for that young helpless-looking woman, who did’t know much at all, who had doctors around her thinking…“Now what?”