Amnesia: A Story of Bewildering Reclamation

Quite a ghoulish cross to bear.

I was car shopping in New Jersey when I accidentally visited a Hyundai dealership instead of a Honda dealership – thank you very much GPS w/voice recognition. It was there, near the entrance to Hackensack Hyundai where I suffered an unexpected bout of amnesia. Amnesia in New Jersey is different. Instead of suffering from clinical memory loss you simply fuggedaboutit. And this is the story of my struggle (or mein kamp  for my German friends) in reclaiming my memories – at least what I think are my memories. See what amnesia can do? It can scramble your brains when you’d prefer them to be over-easy. And whether scrambled or over-easy, a nice side of bacon with your brains is very healing – whether it’s cured or uncured (the bacon that is and not the brain). 

Back on the Rails

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Unimportant – Aaron Unimportant. I come from a long line of Unimportant people. We were known as VUPs (Very Unimportant Persons). I don’t know why I’m even telling you this part of the story. It’s really unimportant. So let us begin my journey from forgetfulness to mindfulness where I travel from a blank slate devoid of any impressions to a full slate populated with numerous Post-it Notes. As you come to understand my calamity, it may all become quite confusing in a “Why-am-I-still-reading-this, kind of way.”

In any event I will catalogue the story of my amnesia and my recovery. I hope no one ever has to relearn everything as I did. To do a cold start to your 35-year old hard drive is a rebirthing process you don’t want to experience. The one advantage of a latter day rebirthing is that there’s no messy afterbirth, however the incubation period for understanding simple concepts is shocking. For example, how was I supposed to know you shouldn’t pee on an electrified fence?        

It All Changed

I was a full-fledged participant in society until October 8th 2016 when my voice-activated GPS mistook the word Honda for Hyundai – a common mistake – and directed me to the wrong dealership. In fact one time, through a series of unfortunate events too unbelievable to describe here, I wound up in Auckland, New Zealand when I simply asked my iPhone’s GPS for the shortest route to Oakland. Oh well, lesson learned: Don’t talk to your GPS in a phony Canadian accent when you’re drunk.

Anyway, on that fateful day as the dealership was opening, I strode toward what I thought was a gleaming new Honda Pilot when I stopped for just a moment to adjust my cape – yes, I sometimes wear a cape in temperate weather. I just happened to be standing (happenstance) over one of those inflatable advertising air dancers at the moment it was switched on. In an instant the ghoulish tube man rocketed skyward and, without asking permission, struck me full force in the head, knocking me into the used car section, as well as into next week. The blow deposited me on the now cracked windshield of a 2014 Dodge Dakota (evidently they took trade-ins).

As I lied stone-cold unconscious athwart the Dodge Dakota, I left my body and could see the entirety of events unfolding beneath me. From new age books I’d read on the topic of death, I realized I was having an NDE (a Near Dodge Experience). I saw the distraught salesman spring into action and call his psychiatrist. Luckily he got the doctor’s phone tree which instructed him to not only listen carefully because some of the options had changed, but also that if this was a life-threatening emergency to hang-up and call 9-1-1. Thankfully that stupidly self-evident message probably saved my life as the salesman muttered, “Uhh, maybe I betta cawl 9-1-1” (Remember, the salesman was from NJ).

A pair of paramedics arrived quickly and, after ogling a sporty new Hyundai Veloster, rushed me to the hospital – Our Lady of the Immaculate Deductible. I was trundled groggily into the Neuro-ICU ward and after meeting my deductible (the hospitals financial surgeons were very skilled in separating me from my money), the doctors began a discussion on my concussion.

Dr. Geisel:    He’s been concussed. I’m nonplussed. As discussed, we must adjust.

Dr. Samiam:  Ted, we’re not going down that road. This man is injured. [Dr. Samiam then realizes Dr. Geisel is upset because he won’t play along and attempts to appease the doctor by saying] Alright. We must adjust ‘cuz he’s concussed. Dr. Sam I am.

Puzzling

Even with this expert care, I’d lost all ability to remember how things fit together. A hospital clinician from SUFR (the Straighten-Up & Fly Right Dept.) gave me a 2-piece puzzle to do and I couldn’t put it together. The good news was that after a cursory examination the neurosurgeons all agreed I would be fine eventually. The bad news was that due to the blunt force head trauma, my kids would probably be born dizzy. I felt like a stranger in a strange land and things were getting stranger by the moment. I had so many questions. Well, observations really – after all, I was raised on Seinfeld :

  1. Why are there so many religions when there’s only one cosmic force?
  2. And since when did cane sugar become the darling of glucose-aholics. Is cane sugar really so much better than high-fructose corn syrup? I mean chemically they’re almost identical – like me and Mike Pence. But nutritionally they’re miles apart – like me and a bushel of sorghum.
  3. Can you conjugate the word amnesia? For example is the past tense of amnesia, wasnesia?
  4. I now realize that even though life is a pre-existing condition, we all get into heaven – one we meet the deductible.

Such was my wallop-derived thought process. My amnesia was very liberating (wasnesia). It freed me from the surly bonds of linear thinking and gifted me with lateral abstraction. So if you’re looking for failsafe logic; look elsewhere.   

Being differently advantaged affords one windows on the world heretofore undreamed. However, to my detriment I was easily drawn down worthless, but interesting rabbit holes – like the previously mentioned fuss comparing cane sugars with high fructose corn syrup or the previously unmentioned hubbub comparing Anita Pallenberg’s influence on the Rolling Stone’s with Marianne Faithful’s influence. I was overly fond of my lateral expansivity, when I should’ve spent more time trying to get the applesauce into my mouth and not into my nose. And while it’s true I had become naturally child-like again (as Jesus said we should, in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven), I was eating at a less-than-preschool level. Such are the trade-offs between basic motor skills and spiritual advancement.

Questions, Interrogatives and Queries

My mental agitation, brought on by being hit in the head by an inflatable Gumby, knew no bounds. I had many questions.

  1. Why is it that most bath-rooms didn’t have any baths in them? And why was it so important for employees, and not other people, to wash their hands after using one. What went on in those small rooms with the flushable little porcelain aquariums?
  2. I thought it was very considerate of some trucks to request a telephonic critique of their performance: “How’s my driving – 1-800-DOMINOS?”

So Many Questions, So Few Intact Brain Cells to Process Them.

Then came a tsunami of Dr. Seuss questions as to my origins: “Am I amnesiac? No. Am not amnesiac. Am Norwegian? – no. Am not amnesiac and am not Norwegian. Am neurotic. Aaron I am.” My inner dialogue was useless. My outer dialogue wasn’t much better:

Me:     Hey doc, is the purpose of the Bureau of Veterans’ Affairs to encourage infidelity among military spouses?

Doc:   Well no. They help with their affairs, but not those kind.

Me:     OK. Do well-educated pigs speak Pig Latin?

Doc:   Well once again, you’re putting things together, but in the wrong way.

Me:     Did the Cubs really win the World Series?

Doc:   Yes it only took 108 years.

Me:     Well that I still don’t believe, but score one for the concussed. The other night one of the nurses in a really tight uniform said I had a face only a prostitute could love. Is that a good thing?

Doc:   Ummm…that wasn’t a nurse. We’ve got to put someone on the door. Sorry Aaron.

Me:     OK. Last one. Some of the vacation packages in these Eco-tourism magazines are crazily inexpensive. Why would I not want to go to Chernobyl and Fukishima?

Doc:   Maybe we’d better adjust your medication.

Once my medication was adjusted I had a hallucinatory dream where I’m a worker at a dairy farm whose herds of forgetful cows are pumped for their Milk of Amnesia. This selective-memory milk the cows issued was very popular with people who wanted to ♫make the world go away♫. In another dream Super Bowl MVP Joe Montana, flush with victory, is asked what he’s going to do now and Montana erupts with great enthusiasm, “I’m going to Jonestown!” Clearly my medication need a readjustment. I think that’s what Dr. Theodore “Ted” Geisel meant when he said, “He’s been concussed. I’m nonplussed. As discussed, we must adjust.

Some Connectivity

There were some positive signs early in my rehabilitation. My primitive limbic system seemed to be waking up. For example, when I first saw food I knew instinctively I wanted to eat it. And when I first saw my wife I felt something kinda similar. In fact when I initially saw her I blurted out, “Hey toots, howzabout you and me take a roll in the gurney?” The doctors were pleased and told me I’d be a male chauvinist in no time at all. By now I was making good progress and no longer needed the lobster bib.    

As I rested comfortably knowing all my deductibles had been met, my motor skills improved and more of the applesauce made it into my mouth. My powers of discernment also grew proportionately. For example, I could now tell my Daniel Radcliffe’s from my Elijah Wood’s, my Mary-Kate Olsen’s from my Ashley Olsen’s and I had straightened out the whole Jeff Daniels/Bill Pullman/Bill Paxton thing – thank you very much old People Magazines. However, for the life of me I still couldn’t tell the difference between Bruce and Caitlyn Jenner.

I’m pleased to see I’m not alone in my cerebral malady. There are Amnesiac Anonymous support groups in most major cities although, predictably, most members forget to show-up for meetings. There’s even a support group for families living with the absent-minded: Al-Amnes and Al-Amteen. Support came from the corporate world too. In keeping with their image as responsible brutalizers, the NFL, home of the concussed gladiator, has lent support to Amnesiacs Anonymous. For the first play of every game, the offensive team comes to the line of scrimmage, gets set, looks around, pretends they’ve forgotten the play and then re-huddles as a tribute to amnesiacs everywhere. Teams also encourage fans to wear clear ribbons; as if to announce they forgot the colorful ones.

 

14 Hilarious Missing Pages Later, I Decide to End this Story and Summarize My Experience

As the days passed, the nights passed also in equal proportion and I found myself restored to the imperfect being I was before Gumby struck me in the frontal lobe without permission. I’ve actually gone far beyond the usual reclamation of memories and the doctors all agree I now possess what they term MTTR (More Than Total Recall). It’s the opposite of Amnesia. I can now remember things that never happened in great clarity. I suppose it’s just a pendulum swing in the other direction and my MTTR will normalize in time – like normal is some natural state. Is anything really normal or is it just familiar to us?

And as I reflect on my ordeal (my life, and not this made-up amnesia story) I’ve learned this much: You can’t recuse yourself from life just because you know how it turns out. And even though, as David Hardiman has so disfiguringly reminded us in his previous story entitled: It is what it is. Except when it’s not. – “Life is not normal. We’re just used to it.”

Remember. If you find this story troubling or enlightening or anything in-between: You will fuggedaboutit. Yeah that’s it: Remember – you’ll forget. And it’s true. Just think about all the things you’ve forgotten about that you no longer remember. Sorry folks, I didn’t mean to puncture the 5th Dimension (with apologies to Marilyn McCoo’s Beautiful Balloon). I mean how can you think about things you’ve forgotten? – and yet we do it all the time. {This is where I would drop the mic and walk-off the stage.}

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