Loss of Memory due to brain surgery

by Zolamic
(New York, NY, USA)

I had brain surgery in November 2008 to remove a brain tumor called a Meningioma. Because of the placement of the tumor and the work required to get it out, my short term memory is off. And thus, things don't transfer to long term memory.

memory problems story
From what I am told, the brain can continue healing for up to 2 years, and so my doctors have me do lots of activities to help in my rehab. One of the things I like to do is play games that help work my memory. I was glad to have found this site, and I visit it every day.

Losing my memory at the age of 39 has been scary, but from what I have experienced first hand, the brain is an amazing thing, and is also quite adaptable. Whatever it is YOU are experiencing, keep exercising your brain, because it DOES work.

Doug's Reply: Thank you so much for sharing your story. Most people, including me, often take for granted the good things in their lives. We all need to keep in mind that the challenges we face every day could be much worse should a sudden turn of bad health come our way.

In the old days, doctors always said the brain couldn't change after childhood. Today we know that the opposite is true. There is an entire investigative field nowadays called neuroplasticity which studies the ways the brain can change and how to encourage it to do so.

Despite your scary experience, you sound positive and optimistic that your treatments and brain exercises are working. I am really glad to hear you say that. From time to time I get questions from people who wonder whether exercising their brain through brain games, etc. is effective. Besides the research studies that say that it is, I can now refer them to your first-hand account as well.

If there is anything I change or add to this website to make it more useful for you and others recovering from brain surgery, please let me know.

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

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Feb 01, 2016
Working On My Short Term Memory !!
by: Sabrina E.

I am a brain surgery survivor of 4 years, with short term memory loss. My days turn in to weeks and a nap can put me in another day, or set me back a day.

It is rough sometimes but I get by. It is hard though, glad I found this site. Going to give it a try... Wish me luck............... smiles !

May 25, 2011
Memory Loss from Brain surgery
by: AnonymousVictoria

I also had surgery for a menigioma tumor in January 2010. Because of size, location and damage from tumor my neurosurgeon was unable to completely remove and the right side of my skull had to be replaced with a plate.

I now have seizure's, short-term memory loss, trimengilia neuralgia, and severe headaches. I began playing games such as poker and yahtzee (for the concentration and decision making) bingo, family feud, and wheel of fortune (for recognition, placement and time management).

I was only able 6 months ago to play for one hour before the confusion and headaches began and I had to stop. Now i am about 2 and a half hours unless a really bad day for headaches.

It to me has been a blessing, and it helps me metally also that I know their is a future as long as i continue. May god be with everyone in their path of healing.

Nov 20, 2010
A new phase of life post-surgery
by: Douglas - MIT

Deborah, it sounds like you and your daughter are about to enter a very challenging period in your lives.

Rather than "death and rebirth", I think I'd choose to look at it as a transition to a new phase of her life. Depending on how many of her memories are preserved, I understand it may certainly seem like you're interacting with a different person.

Keep in mind, doctors cannot predict exactly which capabilities will be gone forever and which will return. In recent years, neuroplasticity research has shown that the brain is far more adaptable and malleable than anyone ever imagined.

I mention this because the attitude you choose toward your daughter's recovery (and her own attitude) could have a significant impact on the degree of post-surgery mental function and memory.

An earlier commenter mentioned the book "My Stroke of Insight" by Dr. Jill Taylor. Dr. Taylor is a brain scientist from Harvard who had a major stroke and then chronicled the aftermath. (I own the book and have read it.)

Even though your daughter's situation is different, you may want to read Dr. Taylor's book for the insights she gives on maximizing the effectiveness of the recovery process.

She emphasizes that someone with a brain condition should be looked at as "wounded". They are not someone else; even though they might not ever recover their memories or other mental abilities, treat them as if they have been injured (which they have been).

Here are a few key points she mentions in the appendix, "40 Things I Needed Most" and at a few other places in the book:

- I am not stupid, I am wounded. Please respect me.

- I desperately need people to treat me as though I would recover completely.

- I need the people around me to believe in the plasticity of my brain and its ability to grow, learn, and recover.

- I need people to love me, not for the person I had been, but for who I might now become.

- I need those around me to be encouraging. I need to know that I still had value.

- For a successful recovery, it was important that we focus on my ability, not my disability.

- I need people to celebrate the triumphs I made every day, because my successes, no matter how small, inspired me.

- I need everyone to assume that I know nothing so that I could relearn everything from the beginning.

- Cheer me on. Expect me to recover completely, even if it takes twenty years!

- If I can't find an old [mental] file, make it a point to create a new one.

- Keep me familiar with my family, friends, and loving support. Build a collage wall of cards and photos that I can see. Label them so I can review them.

- Love me for who I am today. Don't hold me to being the person I was before. I have a different brain now.

Best of luck to you and your daughter. I will keep you in my thoughts.

Best regards,

Nov 19, 2010
Permanent Memory Loss?
by: Deborah

My daughter, 33, is facing surgery on the area of her brain that is the memory center. She has been told that the chance of knowing who she is and thus everyone and everything around her will no longer be known to her. It sounds like the person she is now will "die" and a new person will be the result... Any thoughts on this? Thank You

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