Friday, November 09, 2007

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Harold drove to the hospital while Pete tried to tell his father everything he had learned about amnesia in the first few weeks of his U.Va. Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Med Program. Harold was impressed. His son had obviously been paying attention.

“People with anterograde amnesia often cannot remember the trauma that caused their memory loss as well as some memories of events just before the trauma. The theory is that this loss of past memories, or retrograde amnesia, occurs because harm to the hippocampus has disrupted the process of consolidation, by which recent memories are gradually transformed into enduring long-term memories. The combination of anterograde amnesia plus partial retrograde amnesia is quite common. Collectively, it's often known as simply ‘amnesia’”

Harold hadn’t understood a word. “Pete, you made a lot more sense to me when you were planning to be a lawyer.” Harold so the worried look on his son’s face and quickly added “Just trying to cut the tension, son. You made the right decision.”

Pete had spent his under-graduate years at the University in pre-law. In his senior year he realized that he had chosen law to please his father. His mother had assured him that she and his father only wanted him to be happy. Now he was in a pre-med program and he planned to be a psychologist. He was happier than he could ever remember being. Or at least he was until yesterday.

When Harold and Pete got to the hospital they were met in the hallway by Fanny’s doctor. Harold found it hard to listen. He was disconcerted by the he sight of the two armed police officers guarding the door of his wife’s room.

“She has obviously suffered a head injury. Two in fact. One to her left temple and one to other to the back of her head at the base of her skull. The amnesia may be related to a physical injury or it may have been caused by some other kind of trauma.”

“How can you tell type my mother is suffering from, Doctor?" Unlike his father, Pete was totally focused on what the doctor was saying.

"Traumatic amnesia is generally due to a head injury. Traumatic amnesia is often transient. The extent of the period covered by the amnesia is related to the degree of injury and may give an indication of the prognosis for recovery. Mild trauma, such as a car accident that might result in no more than mild whiplash, might cause the the patient to have no memory of the moments just before the accident due to a brief interruption in the short/long-term memory transfer mechanism. Dissociative Amnesia results from a psychological cause as opposed to direct damage to the brain caused by injury. It can include an inability to recall information, usually about the stressful or traumatic events. The memory is stored in long term memory, but access to it is impaired because of psychological defense mechanisms. Persons retain the capacity to learn new information and , in time, there may be some later partial or complete recovery of memory.”

“Doctor, is it too soon for you to speculate of the cause of my mother’s amnesia?”

“It will take us some time to be certain, but based on what I have been able to observe of your mother’s state of mind, I believe she is suffering from Dissociative Amnesia resulting from a sever traumatic event.”

“Doctor, I’d like to see my wife now, if I may.”

Before they were allowed to enter the room both Harold and Pete were thoroughly searched. “Dad, when are they going to realize the Mom could have had nothing to do with the murder of that woman?”

“Jerry is optimistic, Pete. But he said it will take time.” Harold took a deep breath and followed his son into the room.



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