Bendigo Advertiser Letters to the Editor: A case of amnesia leads to praise for hospital staff

Recently my wife was admitted to the Bendigo hospital. Prior to attending the hospital, I rang the nurse-on-call who directed me to an on-call emergency doctor.

After a thorough question and answer session it was determined that she was probably experiencing what is called transient global amnesia and that I should immediately take her to the emergency department.

The diagnosis was immediately emailed to me in a report which I was able to download on my phone.

On attending the emergency department, I showed the triage nurse the report.

Within a short period of time, blood and urine tests and a CT scan were conducted and my wife was admitted to the emergency treatment section.

The tests and observation eliminated the possibility that a stroke had occurred and confirmed the initial diagnosis.

The amnesia that my wife experienced was short term in that she could not recall anything that had occurred in the last two days. It also involved her not being able to create memories.

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It was Groundhog Day. 

She kept repeating the same questions and being given the same answers.

Each time her treating nurse appeared she would have to ask who they were in spite of having met them many times before.

The condition should be called transient short-term amnesia, as her long term memory was not affected and surely long-term memory is consistent with the concept of global.

Then there is the need to have someone the person knows and trusts present at all times.

For my wife, having me present gave her something to hold on to while she experienced the confusion that comes from not be able to create memories and not being able remember not remembering.

Generally, the condition only occurs once and the person fully recovers within 24 hours. It’s not known why it occurs.

A nurse in the emergency department made the astute point that because there is nearly always a complete recovery, there are no funds to research its underlying cause.

However, there are known risk factors. These include being over 50 and susceptible to migraines, both of which apply to my wife.

After a rather long stay in the emergency department, my wife was eventually moved to the medical ward. The new building is extremely good.

However, more importantly was the professionalism of the staff. There was a consistent stream of staff checking and double checking every possible aspect of my wife’s well-being.

Although the staff were only doing what they’re trained to do, both my wife and myself consider ourselves fortunate to live in a city that has such competent and committed medical professionals.

Stephen Mooney, Golden Square

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