The Woman Who Had Her Brain Completely Erased At Age 22

The Woman Who Had Her Brain Completely Erased At Age 22

When 45-year-old Su Meck got hit with a ceiling fan and woke up one week later with a total memory loss, her husband Jim thought she “was Su 2.0. She had rebooted.”

She couldn’t read. She couldn’t do anything by herself. Nothing. Except a few phrases, her brain was a tabula rasa. She had to restart her life at age 22 – a life with two baby sons – learning everything from the start.

Now, two decades later, the woman whose brain was full of cracks “like shaken Jell-O” – as doctors described it – has a diploma, a degree on music from Montgomery College with a 3.9 GPA.

Imagine that, waking up one day being a complete different person with no recollection whatsoever of who you were just one week ago, with a husband you couldn’t recognise and two kids who weren’t really yours, even if biologically they were. It sounds like the setting for a Julia Roberts film, but back then it felt like total confusion for Su:

I always wondered: What am I supposed to do now? What is the plan? What is the goal? Am I supposed to be this other person who I was, or am I supposed to be this new person?

In addition to those philosophical and emotional implications – how can you fall in love again with a husband you don’t know? How can you love the children that you don’t recognise as yours? – Su had to deal with the day to day, learning everything from the start.

There was nothing to build on, but she slowly got back on track. She learned to eat by herself again. To dress up, to make phone calls – she couldn’t bear to talk on the phone for the first few years after the accident – to ride a bicycle, to read and write. Everything was hard for her, including the writing, as one of her emails to her mum shows:

The boys play good with Legos now so givs me a chance to rite. I hav to go to mor doctors be case fall lots to hitig head bad head ackes.

But she finally did it. She even learned to drive, even while her kids had to remember where she parked for her. And finally, she got her degree on music after four years of studying hard, reading things again and again to keep them in her memory. Now, Su drums to songs of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, and she is planning to get a bachelor’s degree at Smith College in Massachusetts.

Well, Su Meck 2.0, kudos to you. You have our deepest admiration, rocker girl. Here’s some favourite Floyd to honour your amazing spirit and fantastic voyage. [Washington Post]