Do I Have False Memories??

Introduction:

​I feel it is important that I am upfront with you as I have been working on my book (releasing soon) and blog over this past year.  Eleven months ago, I was no longer working, and all of my job leads were telling me that they wanted to wait to see how things would work out with the pandemic.   Because I was unable to find another opportunity and many states were in quarantine mode, I decided I would spend my idol time doing something I wanted to do but never made the time. Isn’t it interesting how God will put you in the exact position you need to be in to accomplish a task put on your heart?  During quarantine, I temporarily stopped looking for work and I started planning to write a book about my experience with TBI.  This was a big project that would require a lot of assistance to recall everything I experienced.  I began reviewing pictures taken during and after rehab.  I interviewed close friends and family to provide me with details that I was missing.  I also looked through a folder in my file cabinet called Rehab Docs.  This folder included everything I collected from my rehab sessions, neuropsychological evaluations, and a paper my sister wrote for her cooking school, called “The motorcycle”.  But it was not until I read through the journal my mom left inside my hospital room in the ICU, when I got the motivation to focus on completing my story!

This was almost 20 years ago, so I thought, what if I could not remember certain things from my accident or recovery?  Would I be able to effectively share my story without the details I forgot?  Would the story be believable?  I wondered how good my story needed to be in order to have a positive effect on readers.  Would those readers refer my book and blog to other survivors or survivor’s family?

Quote from “Like a Snowflake”: my ‘new normal’ includes a bunch of gaps in my memory.  Fortunately for me, my family and friends did a few things to help me from committing confabulation.  

Confabulation is a symptom of various memory disorders in which made-up stories fill in any gaps in memory. German psychiatrist Karl Bonhoeffer coined the term “confabulation” in 1900. He used it to describe when a person gives false answers or answers that sound fantastical or made up.

What causes confabulation?

A variety of conditions can result in confabulation. These include memory disorders, injuries, and mental health disorders. As a result, doctors haven’t identified a specific cause. They do know that most people who have symptoms of confabulation usually have damage in two areas of the brain: the frontal lobes and the corpus callosum. The frontal lobe is known for its role in memory.

Examples of conditions that can cause confabulation include:• anosognosia for hemiplegia, or denial of paralysis• Anton’s syndrome, or denial of blindness• Capgras syndrome, or the belief that an imposter has replaced a loved one• Korsakoff syndrome• memory disorders, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease• schizophrenia• split-brain syndrome• traumatic brain injury

Young children may also engage in confabulation.

While my accident has been over 18 years ago, I was able to avoid confabulation.  I believe after I was out of rehab and my brain healed more, I was able to recover a lot of my long-term memory.  I am proud to say that I have a special place in my brain that held a few details leading up to my horrific accident, as well as the challenging experiences recovering from Traumatic Brain Injury.  However, I will call it a blessing that I do not remember the exact details from my motorcycle accident, because I believe that I would have gone crazy from replaying that memory over and over again in my head.

It is very interesting that I have a few short-term memories from when I bought the bike the day before the accident.  I even have a few short-term memories from the day of the accident, but I have no specific memories from the event.  I know I was not hit, and I do not exactly know the steps that led to my accident.  However, based on the fact that me and my Suzuki Katana, and my helmet were all found separated on the grass near a broken cluster mailbox (I was found unconscious) and a fire hydrant, it was easy to guess what happened.

Conclusion:

I guess I could have engaged in confabulation while describing my first day riding the motorcycle.  But what would that have done to make my story or even motorcycle experience more interesting?  I guess I could have told people that my accident happened because I was trying to do a wheelie or something cool that novice riders should not attempt.  I actually think it would have made the story less genuine.  Maybe people would have thought that I really got what I deserved driving irresponsibly as a new motorcycle rider.  What if my confabulation story was that I was avoiding a cat or dog in the street when I lost control of the bike?  I personally don’t think either option adds to the story.  Even though I could have added a story to fill in my ‘missing time,’ I think being humble saying I don’t remember is just fine with me.

Rachel. “Confabulation: Definition, Causes, and Examples.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 3 May 2017, https://www.healthline.com/health/confabulation.

4 thoughts on “Do I Have False Memories??”

  1. Pamela J Frazier

    Great blog, I loved it. I’m excited about reading the book.
    You are truly blessed by God. Thanks for taking the time to share your story.
    Mom

    1. Hey Mom,
      I am glad you are enjoying reading my blog! I believe my blessing is being able to share my story! (book, blog, orally) I hope I am able to reach people who need to read provide some inspiration.
      Rod

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