Memory Problems from Blood Clot in Heart

by Ali
(Joliet, Illinois)

In August of 2012 my fiance suffered a heart attack, a blood clot ended up on his heart. He was put on life support.

memory problems story
The doctors performed an experimental procedure to help the heart beat. They also gave him a drug, they called it milk of amnesia.

Thank God he survived. However, after he was removed from the support system, he did not have any memory of the events surrounding his hospitalization.

He was discharged about three weeks later. When he came home he regained most of his memory. He now has short term memory problems.

He went back to work. He works in a plant, has been employed there for almost 10 years. He had to be retrained on his machine, but he is still having problems.

The people he works with have been very helpful, but that is not helping him. Most of his job, he has to ask someone to help him.

He has come to the attention of his employers from time to time. Once, when the safety person wanted a fit-for-work exam which his union advised him to see his own doctor, rather then the company doctor, which he did and did get a note saying he was found to be fit to do his job.

Now his partner has complained saying he has to constantly tell him what to do. He does not want to write anything down.

I have told him numerous times to write each of his steps down, and refer to them everyday. I am at a loss.

He is getting depressed, he says the job has changed. I feel he has changed. I try to tell him to be grateful for having a job in these trying times.

He is a good hard worker. How can I explain to him that he has to write this stuff down. I would like him to take index cards to work with him to start with.

He feels he will look foolish doing that. I think he should do whatever it takes to keep working. Please advise. Thank you.

Doug's Reply

The "milk of amnesia" drug was likely propofol, a common anesthetic. It normally has few side effects in itself.

The best advice I might give I learned from Gwen Mann, a visitor to this site who has memory loss due to brain surgery.

Despite her memory problems, she has successfully transitioned to her new life.

Gwen suggests that anyone with memory problems should begin by arranging for Neuropsychological Testing. Your fiance's neurologist should be able to provide more information on how to schedule an appointment for an evaluation.
Being organized is key to managing memory loss

This testing could help pinpoint your fiance's strengths and weaknesses. The neurologist can use the results to make a plan for cognitive therapy.

Cognitive therapy involves identifying tools, habits, and other lifestyle changes to help the person function more normally.

For instance, your idea about writing down work procedures on index cards is a type of strategy they might recommend.

Individuals with memory problems may need to become more organized in their daily activities than they ever were before. That is the reality.

Hopefully others who have experience with memory loss will comment on this thread with advice and encouragement.

Best of luck to you.

This is information only. It is not medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Feb 21, 2015
Some Tips for Managing Memory Loss
by: Gill

So sorry to read of your fiance's problems with memory. I can totally sympathise, as I still suffer with long and short term memory loss due to Meningitis in 2008.

One of the things that was pointed out to me was that my usual methods of remembering were no longer serving me well, as writing things down means I loose them or indeed still forget them.

My Occupational therapist suggested that I try using a voice recorder, camera, and also my mobile phone to-do list with alarm to prompt me. Despite being someone who always liked the written word, I am finding the voice recorder more helpful.

Every morning I firstly write a short list of To Do's, appointments, etc., then transfer these to my voice recorder. It seems that by speaking out loud the information I find myself more easily remembering things before the alarm goes off to remind me.

Before I started using the voice recorder I lived from minute to minute and could totally forget what I was doing within seconds. It got so distressing that I really wasn't safe to do anything unsupervised as I would burn food, leave the cooker on.

The fact your fiance is reluctant to write down may point to fact that this strategy is not working for his damaged brain, and he needs to try something else?

I don't know how long ago you posted, but do wish you and your fiance all the very best and hope that he has received some neuro psych assessment by now.

There is a lot of great info online - Google brain injury memory problems. HEADWAY is a very useful website for anyone with brain injury and has lots free fact sheets to download on different aspects.

The other strategy that's helping greatly is using my camera to basically make a daily diary in photos. I can then download them and look back over them. This is helping with remembering sequences of events and places I have been.

My own experience after Meningitis has been one of no after care at all, except for my physical damage to balance and migraines. I had no neuro assessment, as doctors just said as long as memory wasn't worsening then I just have to live with the limitations and develop suitable strategies - which I researched myself.

Because I had an illness which was said to be cured when I survived, they didn't seem to think I needed any rehab re the brain injury.

Hope this may help.

Best wishes,

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