Memory Loss, Life After Death

I suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in May of 2020 at the age of 25. I've since gotten back to work and back into the gym, but there is something that is becoming obvious to me; my short term memory isn't what it once was. I find it hard to remember names, numbers, and what I went into a room to do. At work I notice that I will forget measurements or what step of a process that I am at. It's really been eating at me. Especially today after my foreman started pointing out that I have a "memory" problem. While I know he was just jokingly giving me a jab, I can't help but worry that it won't get better, or that I will never be the person I was once capable of being.

I'm wondering if there are any other members who are further along in their recovery than I am who could either give me reassurance or the harsh truth of the situation. Will my memory come back, or will I have to come up with strategies to mitigate my forgetfulness?


8 Comments

Not sure if it's the same, but...

by TLee - 2021-02-09 22:36:33

Two years ago I had a near fatal asthma attack--in fact, that may be what messed up my heart's electrical system, which got me here! When the brain is oxygen-deprived, whatever the reason, there is bound to be some lingering effects. For me, I was mostly really fuzzy on things that happened just before, during and just after my attack (like asking my daughter when she'd arrived in town, not recalling that we'd had a conversation the day before). Longer term, I experienced difficulty concentrating, making plans & seeing a task through. For example, I have a life-long love of books, but could not concentrate long enough to read even a page. I was told that there is a recognized "hospital syndrome" (or something like that), which basically means you feel weird after a major hospitalization. Most of the weirdness went away pretty quickly, but I have only just recently been able to read a book cover-to-cover. I think your memory should improve gradually, but it wouldn't be a bad thing to talk to a doctor about it as it is worrying you. Try not to be overy concerned--the brain is pretty resiliant, it just takes time to heal like everything else. 

Memory loss

by Gemita - 2021-02-10 02:30:26

WSHuey,

I was sorry to hear about your heart attack at such a young age.  I have had several years experience living with a family member who has had several strokes and seeing first hand what it can do to memory and cognitive function.

Any chronic or acute illness that causes blood to temporarily stop flowing or reaching the brain, even for short periods, can put us at considerable risk of developing memory loss and this would be especially true for a major trauma like a stroke or heart attack where speed to restore function to the brain following injury is of utmost importance.

In your shoes I would seek advice and explain to your doctors what seems to be happening,  Often these effects following a stroke or heart attack are not noticed immediately but develop over time and it maybe that with treatment or cognitive therapy these symptoms can be improved but the earlier you seek help and recognition that you may have a problem, the better.  

Of course many of us suffer memory loss as part of the normal aging process (I certainly do) but you are too young for this to be happening.  Memory loss can also be due to treatable causes (like stress, depression, lack of sleep, thyroid problems, medication side effects, poor diet or from dehydration and so the list goes on), so I believe your symptoms should be investigated in any event.

You sound as though you are doing everything in your power to improve your health though so well done and keep up the effort.  I am confident you will continue to do well.  Good luck

Strategies

by crustyg - 2021-02-10 03:31:28

There is quite a wide range of abilities when it comes to short-term memory performance, and a surprising number of folk actually have a detectable defect in short-term memory.

No comfort to you, I understand, and it really hurts to lose something that most of us take for granted.

You need to start developing strategies to cope: word-association, lists, repetition etc., because you can't assume that your short-term memory will ever return to the previous level, and while you're waiting for something that may/will never happen, life is passing you by.

Impairment to memory is a well recognised phenomenon with folk who've had full heart-lung bypass surgery (not everyone gets it, but it's real), and not uncommon for those whose brains have been starved of oxygen for a significant amount of time.

The old teaching (when I was in med-school) that the adult brain doesn't recover from lack-of-oxygen injury or physical damage is now known to be completely wrong.  Even the senior (==old) brain can make new connections and learn to cope with injury - it's just not quick.  There's a very good TED talk about this https://www.ted.com/talks/sandrine_thuret_you_can_grow_new_brain_cells_here_s_how#t-7173 Recovery from stroke is far better than it was, and arguably, Roald Dahl helped pioneer this approach.  There are stroke sufferers in their teens and twenties, and they *can* and do, improve.

My message to you is this: you *can* cope with this and recover - while you're practising your memory strategies you are in fact teaching your brain how to cope and it will improve.  How much is new brain connections and how much is 'memory tricks' doesn't matter - the effect is the same, and no-one will notice you struggling with short-term memory impairment because you won't have one.

It's one of the most difficult lessons to learn in life: how to accept, embrace and move beyond an injury, illness, disability.  Let the 'handicap' define you and it limits you for the rest of your life.  Accept, cope with and compartmentalise the challenge while refusing to let it limit you means that you will achieve more and be more fulfilled and happier.  Takes effort and self-discipline.  It's not easy, but it's achievable.  And in the words of the song. 'If you can manage this, tell *me* how!' [Sunscreen]

Best wishes.

SCA and short term memory

by islandgirl - 2021-02-10 21:18:00

I had a SCA and followed by short term memory loss, It returned after about 1 1/2 years and I realized it was getting better finally.  I had to write down anything immediately, and would still question day, time, etc. and be unsure and have to call and confirm.....go to lunch, dr appts, etc. I went from never having to write anything down to the memory loss.  My EP did send me to a neurologsit and another followup a year later.  I stopped going as I didn't feel as though I needed to continue, as my brain scan was normal.  I do notice when I get shocked by my ICD I will have memory changes, but it returns within a month or so.  

I had trouble concentrating, but I think that was going through the physical and emotional trauma.  But, since I have no memory before or after the event, including my time in the hospital, I am only reminded by having a ICD. When my SCA is mentioned at my EP appointment, I think "gee, this really happened".  I find it hard to understand it really happened to me.  

Hang in there.....

 

Memory questionsm

by Pharnowa - 2021-02-10 22:20:46

If it were me, and with your age and background, I would seek a neurological consult. They can do testing that remarkably pinpoints any damage and areas to work on. They can adapt stratagies to your needs. 

Age is on your side and I suspect you'll largely recover and/or adapt. 

Best wishes to you!

 

Memory Loss -cause unknown.

by Selwyn - 2021-02-11 06:07:31

 So sorry to hear of your difficulties.

There are many different reasons for memory loss, even stress (worry) is a cause.

A neuropsychologist would be able to help and offer therapy should any be needed. These people are have special skills as distinct from a general clinical psychologist.

Most big neurology departments will have a psychology department within. Neurologists are medical doctors and offer diagnosis. Whilst this may be a first step, you will eventually need a neuropsychologist for therapy.

Even with major brain trauma there is remarkable recovery which often takes a long time. The outcome for your problem, should it be related to lack of oxygen at the time of your cardiac arrest, is good.  Specific therapy will improve the outcome. 

I understand how you are feeling.

by Pinkit94 - 2021-02-12 20:52:26

I have the same thing, I had a cardiac arrest at 23, after the arrest I have had some lingering problems with memory, concentration and speech. Subtle but worse with stress/anxiety. What helped me the most is working with these problems. For example, memory - everyday I try to play a matching game - there's an app for that. At work, you can always find me with a pen and a post it. Concentration - started with paint by numbers kit, would work 15 minutes at a time eventually working up to 30 min. before needing a break. Speech, focus on talking slower. Also, I found a hobby that I like and I am good at, that helped me build confidence, which inturn helped me with my lingering issues. Best of luck, it does get better!

Thank You

by WShuey - 2021-02-18 21:49:44

I appreciate everyone's advice and well wishes. It has been a rough while coming to terms with the neurological toll caused by my SCA. I still can't help but beat myself up for my cognitive shortcomings, but I guess that's just how I am though. I'm going to tackle this issue with the fury of a thousand screaming suns. I refuse to be a victim. Thank you, everyone.

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