Kim Denicola was having a totally typical day doing nothing unusual or exciting the day her whole life changed.
She didn't see it coming, and now that it's happened everything is different not just for her, but for her friends, family and community.
Imagine waking up, but looking in the mirror and seeing a reflection 40 years older than it should be... it happened to Kim, and here's how.
The 56-year-old Louisiana grandmother was walking from bible class to a friend's car in her church parking lot. As she walked she was hit with a sharp headache and blurry vision before quickly blacking out.
She was rushed to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center where, after some time, she woke up.
The nurse asked the standard questions when someone loses consciousness. "What's your name?" "Do you know where you are?" "What year is it?"
That last question was a doozy for everyone.
Kim could remember her name, and could correctly identify that she was in a hospital; but as far as she could recall the year was 1980, Reagan was in office and she was just shy of her 18th birthday.
That's when she took notice of the man standing in the room with her and the nurse.
"I looked at him, he had tears in his eyes and I thought 'oh man...' ya know? 'something's not right here.' "
The man with tears in his eyes was Kim's husband, David. She had no memory of him, her children, her grandchildren, the family business, etc.
Kim didn't even recognize her own reflection. It was like the last 40 years of her life had just been deleted.
Oh man, indeed.
After several rounds of testing, Kim was diagnosed with "transient global amnesia" - a condition marked by loss of recent memory. Normally the condition is temporary, but in Kim's case it's been several months.
Her grandchildren have made it a point to help her re-learn the family business, computers, cell phones and how to work the TV again. So much of technology is now foreign to her.
It's interesting to think about tech that they might as well not bother teaching her about because she kind of "missed it": pagers, VCRs, CDs and that weird era where DVD and Blu-Ray were kind of fighting it out...
We don't envy her grandkids for having to explain things like Google, memes or social media in general.
Doctors say the condition is extremely rare, but that there are known factors that increase a person's risk of being stuck with transient global amnesia. Frequent headaches/repeated migraines as well as being over the age of 50 both tend to play into the situation.
Kim ticked both boxes.
Having said that, the vast majority of migraine sufferers over 50 years old will never experience this and likely will never even know it's a possibility.
It's that rare.
As for Kim, she says she's just taking things slow and isn't afraid of possibly never regaining those memories. She's content to just make new ones.
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