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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

An informal email I sent today....

(I have significantly altered this letter from its original form, so that it hardly resembles the letter I cut and pasted here originally. I purposely removed specific details that would identify the recipient. After I published this letter, I noticed a few statements that were not true, not because they were intentionally false, but because the way I stated them implied things that were not true. I think I have corrected all errors now, but if I find more, I'll correct those also.)

Please forgive me for not remembering why I know you. 

I survived a brain injury caused when a car hit me while I was bicycling for exercise. I normally get about two hours of productive work between naps. I can usually limit naps to under an hour, but not always. I have some days when I never get beyond a state of semi-consciousness in which I have no recollection of my activities later, even though I may have talked with people and made commitments during those periods. I usually have periods of time each day when I appear awake, but I cannot account for the amount of time that has passed. On two occasions that I recall, time seemed to "jump" several seconds at a time. I think that may depend on where I am and what activity is going on around me. More often, I experience it as a television show ends moments after I started it. Often I will restart the show and find parts of the show familiar, even though I don't recall watching it. The most extreme cases like this that I recall, (again I can think of only two examples) I lost a couple of days, with no memory of what happened, apparently because I was never really awake.

I had one period from January 2012 to mid-March 2012 that I cannot recall at all, yet I have records of letters I wrote, and work lists I made. Most of what I wrote during that period sounds coherent, but some of what I wrote is meaningless to me now.

With these experiences happening all the time, I cannot in good faith ask someone to hire me. What kind of job can I do with these limitations?

I know in the past I confidently answered questions about you for LinkedIn, but in the last several queries I received, I just scratched my head feeling a bit confused, because a part of me says I know you, but I cannot recall how or where at the moment.

It is embarrassing to write this kind of note, but I've been doing it a lot lately. I was hit by a car while I was out bicycling for exercise two years ago. My memory for facts was not harmed, but I don't remember events, so much of my time now is spent journaling to make up for that loss.

The worst part about lost event memory is that the brain refuses to work without event memories, so it makes things up so it has a "place" where it can "hang" recently learned facts. As I said previously, my best defense against false memories are journal notes, and I have developed habits of collecting information that would seem pointless to most people, but those habits provide me with a way to quickly research those things I should be able to remember.

I have learned to identify false memories for the most part. There is often some incongruence between real memories and manufactured memories: details don't "feel right." If I pursue them I can find what's wrong, but usually I just review my notes, and discover what I know happened, and mentally mark the false memory as "questionable." (I seem to need those false memories of events to organize random ideas and images into something meaningful that I can grasp and associate with other thoughts and memories, but I don't have to believe the events my imagination has created in order to make use of what I learned.) False memories are disturbing, and destroy confidence. It is much more comfortable to keep running notes on mundane events, and later reconstruct those events from the collected evidence. Notes, phone conversation recordings, and scanned mail also help me built a time-line for myself. Otherwise, I tend to believe all of my false memories "happened" in the month just before my accident.

At least this tendency to assume so many of my memories all happened around the time of my accident gives me a hint that those "memories" might not be real. Sometimes I can prove these memories are false, but much of the time I just have to assume that if I think my memory is based around June of 2011, it's probably not a real memory, unless I can connect them with photos and notes I made at the time.

So, that was more than I meant to say about that! If I should know you, please help me recall.

Thank you,

David Lloyd

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I welcome comments that can help make this site more helpful to those experiencing similar difficulties, or for those friends, family, and professionals who take care of bicycle injury / brain trauma.victims.

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