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Woman Who Forgot Her Own Wedding Day Due To Brain Bug Becomes Competitive Figure Skater After Remarkable Recovery


A woman who forgot her wedding day and thought the year was 1860 after a brain bug wiped her memory has made a remarkable recovery – becoming a competitive figure skater, despite still only having 80 per cent recall.

Outdoor activities instructor Vickie Harkness, 29, of Carlisle, Cumbria, said her problems began with a week of seizures – the first of which left her convinced she had just “been to the moon" – making doctors think she had a heart or mental health problem.

But tests showed she had encephalitis, a life-threatening condition causing the brain to swell, according to the NHS, and producing stroke-like symptoms, which she believes developed from a flu bug and says turned her into " a zombie."

With her family alerted and prepared to say their goodbyes, remarkably Vickie recovered, regaining 80 per cent of her memory, although she still cannot remember her wedding day to tyre builder Shona Harkness, 30, four years ago.

Vickie said:

“I'd always been a fit and healthy person, then it just changed in March 2016."

“It started with fatigue and I thought I was getting the flu, but Shona thought I might have been depressed, as I stopped laughing. Normally I find everything funny, but I stopped. It was like I couldn't think for myself."


Vickie said:

“I kept saying things like 'I need to send a Mother's Day card,' even though Mother's Day had gone."
“Shona would tell me where she was going, but 10 minutes later I'd phone her and ask her, 'Where are you going?'"
“I just started responding less and less."

A week of seizures followed, the cause of which left medical professionals stumped.

Vickie recalled:

“Apparently, after I had my first seizure, I came round and Shona asked me what happened. I said, 'I've just been to the moon.' I genuinely believed I'd been there."
“A week after the seizures started I was admitted to Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and they performed a lumber puncture – when a large needle is used to extract fluid from the spine for testing – which came back positive for encephalitis and I was transferred to Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary."

Vickie Harkness playing guitarPA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

Vickie recalled:

“They don't know what caused it – just that my body was producing too many white blood cells. I think I got it from flu and my body was trying to fight it."

Soon after being admitted to hospital, things took a turn for the worse and Vickie's organs started to shut down, forcing doctors to put her in an induced coma for a week.

Her family and friends were told to prepare for the worst, but Vickie kept fighting – although her loved ones were warned she could be left severely disabled and “probably wouldn't be the same person."

Vickie Harkness in hospitalPA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

When she woke up, her short and long term memory had disappeared and she needed round the clock care.

“At first, I couldn't speak. It was like I'd turned into a zombie and Shona was told I'd probably need to go into a care home, but she told them the only home she's going to is our home," said Vickie.

“But I gradually started to improve. I remember when Shona asked me, 'Do you want to come home Vic?' and I nodded."
“It was so strange, because I knew when people were my friends and family, because of feeling something for them – but I didn't actually know exactly who they were. I knew I loved Shona, even though I didn't know who she was."

Vickie Harkness figure skatingPA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

Vickie continued:

“I couldn't control my body anymore, so had to use a catheter, and I would say strange things. The doctors asked me what year it was and I said 1860."

After three months – with a promise from Shona and their friends that they would provide care 24/7 – Vickie was allowed to go home.

She explained:

“I was a really independent person and not being able to do anything for myself was awful."


“I had to keep a diary of what I'd done the day before. I would read it and realize I couldn't remember what I'd done yesterday. That was such a weird feeling," explained Vickie.

“Doctors would come to my house asking me to do things like make spaghetti Bolognese, but I'd completely forgotten how to."
“I couldn't remember anything from my childhood. It was like my memory had been erased. I used to play guitar and write little songs, but I couldn't do that anymore."
“I'd forgotten how to do the things that made me myself. The feeling is indescribable and I was embarrassed that I'd forgotten this stuff."

Her turning point came in October 2016, when she tried to get to the bus stop outside her home and ended up at a supermarket 15 minutes away – phoning Shona in tears to come and pick her up.

“I decided then that I had to train my brain. I would use my sat nav to get to places and gradually do it on my own, relearning all the things I'd forgotten," she said.

She continued:

“I had to relearn how to tie my shoelaces and brush my teeth. I'd been taking driving lessons and had my test booked, but only recently I had to start from the beginning. I couldn't feel hungry. I ate when I was told to."
“It's thinking for yourself and figuring out what you need and want, which people take for granted every day. Not knowing what you want is terrifying."
“You feel nothing. It's so strange – you know you're sad, but you do not feel sad. It was a really empty awful feeling – like I'd forgotten who I was."

Vickie Harkness playing guitarPA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

Memories started to return, but they were disordered.

She had flashbacks to a time she was caught up in a storm in Maryland, USA, while living there when she was 21, or to dance routines she learned at college.

And while doctors were keen to get back to basics, Vickie was determined to rebuild her personality – learning how to play the guitar, walk her dogs and go hiking.


“I felt that if I learned how to do those things again I would be me again," she explained.

“That's why I decided to try figure skating again. It's something I had done as a child. My friend took me to the ice rink and asked if I remembered it. Before I knew it I was doing little spins."
“As I started doing it, the memories came flooding back and I remembered things like getting medals when I was a little girl."

“I said to my friend, 'I used to do this didn't I?' I couldn't remember but I just felt like I had," she said.

“As soon as I started training properly I remembered how to do everything."

Vickie found a coach and told him she was going to enter the British Figure Skating Championships, competing in the pre-bronze category, held in Sheffield in April – just three years after her stay in hospital.

Vickie Harkness and wife ShonaPA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

She said:

“I didn't have extra lessons or anything, I just did it myself. I told Shona, 'I'm doing this'. Once I set my mind to something I have to do it."
“I was nervous and wasn't placed very high, but I was so happy that I managed to do it and I plan to keep skating."

Alongside her skating, Vickie has also obtained an NVQ qualification in childcare – in half the time it usually takes – and is back at work as an outdoor activities instructor.

Vickie Harkness trainingPA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

Now she is raising awareness of the condition and has also been organizing a charity fun day to raise money for Newcastle Victoria Royal Infirmary, the hospital she credits with saving her life.

Despite her admirable achievements, Vickie still wishes she could remember her wedding day to Shona, who she has been with for eight years, which took place in May 2015 at the Hallmark Hotel in Carlisle.

She said:

“It's so sad. My friend showed me a photo – a picture of my bridesmaids and Shona's best men and I feel like I am starting to remember. I'm determined it will come back to me."

Vickie Harkness and wife ShonaPA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

Vickie added:

“Shona is my rock. I trust her with my life and don't know where I'd be without her. She protected me throughout my illness and made sure I felt safe."
“She kept faith in me and knew I would come back because she kept getting little glimmers of me. I couldn't ask for a better wife."

We're all self-conscious about something, and it doesn't help when our faults get thrown in our faces. You don't want doctors hinting that something is "weird down there," nor do you want someone to tell you you're balding. WE KNOW.

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When you know your kids backwards and forwards, this is the best tool in your arsenal.

Getting our kids to listen to us is not always the easiest of tasks. They're willful and stubborn, but we've got a mighty weapon they are rarely prepared for: reverse psychology. Getting them to convince themselves to want to do something against their own initial intentions takes some work and a whole lot of creativity, but a little sneaky manipulation goes a long way. Here are some clever parents' tricks that are definitely worth taking notes on.

Redditor u/LeanderD Asks:

Parents of reddit, what's your best example of reversed psychology on your kids that actually worked?

He Floated His Idea Through A Back Channel


Wanted to name my boat. Anything I would think of was dismissed as stupid by my 13 year old son. After deciding on a name, I confided to a male friend my son liked. Made my friend suggest the name as though it was his idea. My son thought the name was perfect. Done.


We Always Want What We Can't Have

One of my best friends through childhood used to be punished with no salad if she misbehaved. She cherishes salad now and would always try to eat as much as possible during school lunch. Coincidentally, her now husband used to be punished with no books, it had the same effect. I think it's hilarious that they'd be hitting the salad bar and library like some black market their narc parents couldn't reach hahaha.


A Deceit That's A Cut Above The Rest


Don't know if this counts, but, at my high school (private, boys only) in the 1960's, they made a big deal about how long your hair was, and would occasionally order a boy to go home and "get a haircut".

I thought it was stupid, until years later, a master confided to me at a reunion that the policy was deliberate. The school figured we'd spend so much energy rebelling about hair length, that we would ignore other aspects of teenage rebellion. (Not?) Surprisingly, they were mostly right.


Damn! That's smart. Wow.


Oh they don't like long hair?

I'll show them. I'll grow my hair out as lon- what?! No I don't want to go "party"? I gotta try out this horse shampoo.


The Forbidden Book

Hi I was a victim,

There was a forbidden book that I was not allow to read on the shelf. My parents said I could only read it if I behave myself.

It was summer holidays and I was playing games all day (after 6 hrs of summer homework). One day I was home alone and had the opportunity to grabbed it. I read like half of it in one go. It was 5000 years of Chinese history.

Safe to say I was bamboozled.


Flowers Of The Queen

My parents always told me my broccoli were the flowers of the queen and that I really shouldn't eat them, or else the queen would get very upset! I, of course, ate the whole broccoli in a few seconds.


I'm telling the queen and she's gonna be pissed


Sleeping Beauty


I taught my kids when they were toddlers that no amount of yelling, shaking or hitting can wake a sleeping adult. The only thing that works is a gentle hug and/or a nice kiss on the cheek.

Edit: Probably needed some more details for the reverse psychology aspect to be clear. It went something like this - Step one, tell the kids I'm going to sleep and nothing they do will wake me (head buried face down is the safest position). Step two, after the initial onslaught dies down pretend to awaken on your own. Tell them you got a bit of nap left in you and nothing can wake you, especially not hugs and kisses.


Holy sh*t...if my daughter woke me up like this I would buy her a pony.


I am saving this comment because this will save lives if I ever have kids, stg.


A Walk In Someone Else's Shoes.

Split custody with my ex. When my son was around 10, he visited two weekends a month. I was waiting tables and didn't have a huge amount to spend, but he was so needy from divorce (and I'm not blaming him, it was ugly), he begged constantly for MORE when he was with me. Whatever more was, it didn't matter... he'd be eating ice cream cone and begging for teriyaki.

I finally realized that he just felt empty, and getting MORE whatever from me wasn't filling him up. His next visit I handed him $100 in cash and told him it was our food/fun budget for 3 days and two nights, and he was in charge of it. I bought him his own wallet to carry. We figured out how many times we were going to eat and what we were going to do, and he paid. He got to keep whatever money he had left...thought he was rich...then realized just how much everything cost. Well. Shoe on other foot then. If we had no money for food, we ate leftovers - and I didn't contribute more to pot. After a few weekends of running short or not getting something he actually wanted because he was foolish with funds, he started to really think about how to spend that money. He budgeted and kept to his budget. And a few times he actually went home with a little cash for his private stash.

Many years later, he thanked me for this. It really changed the way he thought about money and love.


This Is Worth Giving A Shot

Took my 3 year old son to one of those doctor's visits where he was going to get a shot. He was worried about the shot on the whole drive over, almost to the point of tears. We get to the doctor's office and a nurse subtly lets me know that my son is not just scheduled for 1 shot, but 5 of them in the same visit.

I turn to my son with an exaggerated smile and tell him, "Good news! They figured out how to take that one big shot you were going to get and instead break it up into these 5 little tiny shots so it won't hurt nearly as much!"

You could see the relief wash over his face. He stopped squirming and relaxed completely. He took the first shot and even smiled and said "It's true! The small ones don't hurt!"

We actually made it through the third shot before the effect wore off and reality kicked in. Still... I counted it as a victory.


Put This To The Taste


My mom would tell me she only lets me eat soup after candy and she'd only buy me candy that i didn't like. After a few times, i stopped trying and begged her to let me eat soup first. She gave me a smirk and told me go ahead. This doesn't sound as evil as it was. But trust me i suffered.


So what was the candy?


Mint chocolate, raisins, stuff like that. I still hate them to this day. Who the f--- thought while eating chocolate "hmm id like some tooth paste with this."


This is Truckin' Awesome

Mum had sworn a bit around the house.

When 4, while out at the supermarket, I said F word really loudly.

Very quickly and intently, she asked if I had just said "Truck" and said that was a bad word and not to ever say Truck like that again.

I thought that was the bad word so used that when being naughty.


The "Silly Mom" Routine

The "Silly Mom" routine.

My kid, and a few other kids I've known, would balk at getting ready to go. I'd grab their clothes and say, "Well, if you won't put on your clothes, I guess I'll put on your clothes. Cute shirt, by the way! Does it go on my foot?"


"Does it go on my head?"


"Oh, that's right, thanks! So, it must go on your legs, right?"


"I just can't figure this out! Where does this adorable shirt go?"

[kid grabs shirt and puts it on] ON MY TUMMY! SILLY MOM!

"Oh, thank you so much! Now what about these pants? Shirts go on tummies, so...the pants go on the tummy, too, right?"


[continue until kids have dressed themselves]

I would also do things like hand the kid my keys and say, "Alright, you're driving, I'll sit in the booster seat in back," attempt to feed the kid by putting a spoon up to his ear or his belly button, and attempt to put away his toys in the refrigerator.


Some Foot For Thought.


My mum would always yell at us "if you don't do X, you have to go to bed without socks!"

I never wore socks anyway, and I'm ashamed to admit that this worked.


That would work really well on my son, or make him cry for a really long time... He's 3 and over the last few weeks has decided that he is fully unable to sleep without socks on.


Toddlers man. Completely unpredictable.


I'm Greens With Envy

My mum had a friend that would put vegetables on her own plate and not the kids.

When the kids asked she would be reluctant to share, "that's grown up food. But I suppose I can let you have a little."

Her kids grew up loving vegetables.

I sat at the dinner table for 3 hours staring at the yucky cauliflower I refused to eat.


This reminds me of an instance when my child convinced my wife and myself to change our plans for dinner. We were in a grocery store to pick up something quick and easy to eat that we wouldn't have to prepare. Our daughter, wanted none of that, she demanded that she wanted a salad from the salad bar. We started to argue back, but then realized: "Our child demands that we feed her vegetables for dinner instead of a microwaved meal, why are we saying 'No?'"

We had salad for dinner that night.


The Power Of Choice

I don't so much know if you would call it reverse psychology, but I didn't realize it until my dad told me this.

When there were chores that needed doing, he noticed if he asked me to mow the lawn, I would complain and procrastinate. But if he asked would I rather mow the lawn or wash the windows, I'd pick one and just get it done.

Shattered my brain when he told me when I was in my twenties. I use it when I'm coaching or baby sitting all the time and it almost never fails.


The Boy Who Cried 'Ouch'


I've done this one with tens of kids. Any time a kid gets "hurt" (falls down on grass, gets gently hit in the face with a ball, etc.) instead of stopping the activity to pick the kid up and see if they're ok you just scoot them off to the side and resume. Within 10 seconds of not getting all the attention and seeing the fun is resuming they pop right back up and are magically healed.

This of course is only for the "injuries" that aren't actually injuries.


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