Groundhog Day woman loses memory and relives the same day for 16 years

June 10, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

A woman stuck in a real-life Groundhog Day has lived the same day over again for the last 16 years – because her memory is wiped clean every few hours.

Forgetful Michelle Philpots, 47, suffered head injuries in two separate car crashes and has been left with no short-term memory since 1994.

In a remarkable reflection of the 1993 Bill Murray comedy Groundhog Day, she ‘repeats’ the same day over and over again, as all memories of the previous day are lost.

As soon as she leaves the house she will forget where she is going and will arrive at destinations with no idea why she is there.

She also has no memories prior to 1994 and even has to be reminded by her husband Ian, 46, of their wedding day in 1997, and has to be shown the album of the big day to prove it happened.

Michelle uses hundreds of post-it notes and logs reminders alarms on her mobile phone to try and deal with her condition.

Anything she has done and anyone she has met or spoken to is completely forgotten by the time she wakes up the next morning unless it is immediately written down.

She rarely leaves her home town of Spalding, Lincs., and has to use Sat-Nav just to get to the local shops a half a mile away as she can never remember the route and gets lost.

Yet brave Michelle says there are some benefits as she has never seen a repeated TV program and every joke she hears is hilarious as she has never heard it before.

She even enjoys watching BBC soap Eastenders, but is unable to name a single character.

Michelle, who volunteers at her local disabled charity, said: ”I can really relate to the film Groundhog Day.

”When I wake up everything outside my window is the same, its hard to explain, but everyday to me is the same normal day.

”It’s like I am living the same day after day.

”I love to watch Eastenders but if I’m reading the magazines showing what happens in upcoming episodes I have no idea what is going on.

”I can’t remember the characters or any story lines but I know I like it.

”But if someone says ‘did you see what happened on Eastenders last night’ I wouldn’t have a clue what they were talking about.”

Mrs Philpots was diagnosed with epilepsy 16 years ago, caused by brain injuries in a motorbike crash in 1985 and car accident in 1990.

Her condition had deteriorated until she began suffering fits and by 1993 she became ‘absent-minded’ leaving tea bags in the fridge.

One of the first serious signs was when she told to go home from her office job at a solicitors firm after she repeatedly photocopyed the same document all day.

Dead and damaged brain cells were removed during a major operation at London’s QE2 Hospital in 2005 to prevent seizures but sadly neither her short-term or long-term memory will ever return.

Mrs Philpots added: ”My memory has gone and there is no way it will come back.

”I understand the change in my life. I know I can’t have my old life back but I find it hard to accept that.

”Sometimes my house becomes my prison and I find it very depressing.”

Husband Neil Philpots, a fencer, said the secret to his happy marriage was patience.

He said: ‘”The only thing I can do is be patient and I have to make sure she is writing everything down.

“Sure it can be very frustrating for me but I have to be patient and understand and accept she struggles to remember.

“I get frustrated but I have to keep calm because I love her.

“I’ve known her about 25 years so I am lucky we met before she had the accidents because she can remember me.

“She generally knows we are married but forgets about the wedding. Luckily we have lots of photos to remind her otherwise she would forget it all.

“She still remembers when we first met it’s just the day to day things she struggles to remember.”

Rehabilitation specialists referred by Wilson House are helping her cope with the condition.

She passed a series of computer exams with flying colours but always needs the manuals and instruction books on hand whenever she logs on.

Now she has been put in charge of fighting the corner other disabled people living in Spalding volunteering three days a week at Lincolnshire Association of People with Disabilities (LAPD).

Dr Peter Nestor, neuroscience specialist at Cambridge University, said Mrs Philpot’s amnesia can be caused by trauma to precise areas of the brain particularly the temporal lobe.

He said: ”It is reasonably rare to have this type of amnesia but it does exist.

”You are capable of carrying out day to day things and don’t forget how to do certain things like speaking.

”But if someone was to ask you what you did yesterday you wouldn’t have a clue.”

* The LAPD has offices in Lincoln, Boston and Spalding and is appealing for volunteers and donations.

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