Transient Global Amnesia – no lasting effects?

A few months ago I was diagnosed with Transient Global Amnesia (TGA) – it is a weird stroke-like condition that results in your brain not being able to form memories for a period of time (about 13 hours for me).

This occurs in 0.004% of the population, and is supposed to rarely occur.

On the morning in question, I recall taking my daughter to school, waving goodbye as she crossed the road at about 8:30am. Then about 1:30AM the next morning I remember my wife saying that she was tired, and that I seemed better and she was going home to sleep (taking our then 5-6 month old son with her).

Apparently my brain was on a loop of a few minutes, constantly asking where I was, what time it was, and exclaiming how time flies, over and over for the whole time. I dont recall much of what happened, I think, because as my brain was not recording anything I was unable to know what I didnt know, that is, that something was wrong. I had been to the gym, I have a foggy snippet in my brain that this happened, and that I had a shower (also, my gym app on my phone had entries in it). Apparently, my workmate said, when I came out of the shower I was crying and confused, and I called my wife. Various other things happened, I am told, but I have no memory of them at all. Vaguely, I recall my wife taking me to some carpark (McDonalds I think) to meet my parents to drop them the oldest two kids – but I am not sure if I remember it, or because I was told it happened.

At some point after midnight that night, my brain started piecing together information, or rather, recording again. I could begin to remember what people told me 5 mins ago, then still remember it 10 mins later, then 30, then an hour…

Right about now is where you start realising that you can not remember anything, then you start wondering what, why, how, have I had a stroke? What’s going on? Fortunately my wife was still with me, as had I been alone I think it would have been scary. As it was, once she left, I spend many hours lying there wondering what had broken in my head. I am not that smart a person, but I am fairly confident in my abilities to work stuff out, to figure out things with my mind. I have a degree, and work in IT, and spent a lot of time reading, and researching, debating and discussing. The thought that my mind might not be able to do this any more was.. well.. I think you understand.

I borrowed this from another blog, from a guy recounting his experience:

The hardest thing for me to wrap my brain around since my episode of TGA is the concept of consciousness. During the time I could not form new memories, I saw nothing, heard nothing, felt nothing, though I walked, talked, heard and saw what was going on around me in everyone else’s eyes. So was I truly conscious?

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And from another:

As I discovered, your mental existence is predicated strictly on the existence of your memories. Without access to your entire life, you virtually cease to exist. Your personality becomes somewhat “flattened’, but its essential qualities seem to be unaffected. Your native intelligence remains intact, but without access to all the information stored in the rest of your brain, you have nothing to discuss. You are completely without knowledge and you are incomplete without it. World War II no longer exists, yesterday no longer exists and you don’t know they don’t exist. (

Both of these are worth a read, especially the last one, he explains what happened far better than I can.

At some time in the morning, after a few hours stewing, and a CAT scan, the doctor and his team came in and said, “You’ve had TGA, you can pop off to work now..” (The abridged version). I went, really? What the…? I didnt really feel up to work so I had a day or two to make sure I could still function.

Several months later, after having been told there would be no lasting effects, I am writing this to make a record in case someone else is struggling with the same thing. There ARE effects that last. First and foremost is in the back of your mind that your brain doesnt work properly anymore, and perhaps you will forget another day, or an hour, or a minute, or not to step out on the road in front of a bus, or which side of the road you are supposed to drive on.

Secondly, I have trouble remembering stuff. Prior to this I was able to remember a number of 7 digit numbers, names, places, things I read, appointments, and tasks. No longer… Any more than one thing, and I have to write it down.

Thirdly, I have headaches a lot. Not just little ones, but big ones in the back of my head that make me feel nauseous. Never had these before. I have them when I wake up, off and on all day.

Fourthly, I’m grumpy. I’ve always been grumpy, but now I am really grumpy and incapable of doing anything about it. I used to get short tempered when I had type 2 diabetes, and had a hyper episode, but there were other effects with that, but with this, there is just irrational grumpiness.

Fifth, I used to lose myself in a conversation, because I have a lot of ideas and would move from one thing to another in my mind faster than I can articulate it. Now, however, more often than not, I get lost because my mind goes blank.

Sixth, the only time I feel really comfortable now is when I am “doing something” – running, cycling, riding my motorbike, working out at the gym, making stuff in the garage. I feel very much like I cant converse with anyone, or read/study, or do my job properly.

Finally, I cant sleep. I am tired, and it feels like my brain is cloudy all the time, you know, like when you have pulled an all nighter. I also used to have Sleep Apnoea, so I know what its like to be severely sleep deprived. This is similar but not the same. When I say I cant sleep, I can make about 5-6 hours, which is 2-3 hours short of what sleep testing suggests that I need to get properly rested (having sleep apnoea means you get sleep tested, BONUS!).

Anyway, that’s the story, and if you have had TGA, or want to know anything about what I have said, feel free to contact me either by posting or using the form

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