Amnesia Comes A-Calling

Exactly five years ago an ambulance carted me off the MUSC emergency room after I bonked my head on the floor, lost consciousness, and came to suffering from a strange case of amnesia.

The bedroom smoke detector had gone off, and I leapt to my feet before my blood could be pumped into my brain. My late wife Judy described my falling “as straight-backed like a tree – timber!”  When I regained consciousness, the first thing I said was, “Judy, why are you bald?”

She looked surprised. “I have cancer. Don’t you remember?”

“What kind of cancer?”


“Lymphoma! What type of lymphoma?”


“Oh no!”[1]

I [forgive me] absent-mindedly wandered to my study and got on the computer as Judy awakened our neighbor Jim who waited with us – I think – until the ambulance arrived.

When I got to the hospital, physicians began quizzing me. “Who’s running for President?”

Although it was July and Hillary and Trump had secured the nominations, I catalogued who had run against them in the primaries as if those contests hadn’t been settled. The last six months had been erased from my memory.

So, they wheeled me down to run tests, and over the course of a couple of hours, my memory slowly returned.

Before releasing me, a doctor asked, “Now, how far back can you remember?” 

I recited the first couplet of The Canterbury Tales.

“WHAN that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote . . . “

So, memorizing the first twenty lines did have some practical utility after all!

[1] It’s strange that I hadn’t forgotten the types of lymphoma, which I had learned after Judy’s diagnosis.

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