Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Check out this quote from the following website:

Anterograde amnesia is the inability to form new memories (if you are familiar with the movie, Momento, the main character has this disorder). Conifer writes, "Dr. Kenneth Heilman tells us of a patient named Flora Pape whose left and right fornices [the area of the brain responsible for memory] both had to be excised to save her from a life-threatening brain tumor. Mrs. Pape had lived in east Kentucky all of her life, until she and her husband both moved to Jacksonville, Florida, two years before her surgery. At the time of her surgery, she had two sons in their 20s, both of whom still lived in Kentucky." Heilman recounts what took place after leaving the hospital:

When she was discharged from the hospital, her husband drove her from Gainesville to their home in Jacksonville. After leaving Gainesville, her husband noticed that she was looking out the window and saying, "Oh, my!" He asked what was troubling her and she said, "What happened to the mountains?"
He asked, "What mountains?"
She replied, "You know, the mountains."
He said, "There are no mountains here."
She replied, "No mountains in Kentucky. We must be in the western part of the state. What are we doing here?"
Mr. Pape had been told by [the doctor] that the surgery might make her memory worse, but he was still surprised. "Dear, we are not in Kentucky. We are in Florida."
She asked, "Why are we in Florida?"
He told her that they had moved to Jacksonville about 2 years earlier. She said, "Moved to Jacksonville? Why?" He told her that the company had asked him to transfer. She asked, "Where are we going now?"
"Back to Jacksonville from Gainesville. You had some surgery on your brain. It was a tumor. The doctors think they got it all out. You are having some memory problems, but the surgeons hope it will improve with time."
Then she asked, "Who is watching the boys?"
"No one," he replied. "They are grown and live in Kentucky."
"What do you mean, grown? They are still teenagers."
"No, they are not. They are in their twenties. They are coming down this weekend to see you."
She stopped asking questions for a few minutes and looked out of the car window. Then she turned to her husband and asked, "Where are all the mountains?"

Now, is this wife really the same person she was before the surgery? What does it mean to be you? Are you not a product of your memories? Are you the same person now that you were two years ago?


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