Yesterday I had a esophagogastroduodenoscopy, which is by far the longest thing I've had done on me :-P Basically I had a somewhat sharp object stuck in my throat and later in my stomach and they had to fish it out. The endoscope kind of felt like an octopus going down your throat and filling all your cavities, cavities you didn't even know you had. At least that's what the first five minutes felt like. After that I have no memories.
Later, when the nurse was talking to me about my getting discharged, I told her I planned to just drive back home. And then this happened:Nurse
: umm.. didn't the doctor tell you you can't drive for 24 hours because of your medication?Me
: no, not unless I have amnesia!Nurse
: oh right, sorry, that's your medication too.
My reaction to being told that I had amnesia was a nervous laugh. I mean, surely, if I had amnesia I'd have some inkling of it? Some break in my mental chronological narrative, some inconsistency that would give it away? Apparently not. It was quite humbling and disconcerting to experience first hand the fact that your brain can make shit up when your memories are inconsistent.
H.M., whom I keep writing about, would be asked to walk across the room by his experiementer, oblige, and then promptly forget why he did so. When asked why he crossed the room, he would reply "why, to get a drink of course!" He wasn't lying knowingly -- his brain was tricking him in the face of insufficient information in order to present a consisent narrative.
I knew all this. I even argued about a month ago with a friend that if you know how amnesia works, you can manage it reasonably well when it happens to you. And yet I fared pathetically. When I called medryn
a while later to come pick me up, I gave him incorrect directions to my room. This was because, having no memory of waking up and noticing that I was in a new room, my brain apparently assumed that I was back in my pre-operative room!
Worst, several hours later I was still maintaining to myself that I was unconscious after the first five minutes of the procedure, even though I'd been repeatedly told that I would be conscious albeit sedated throughout. I assumed I must have been unusually belligerent, making them turn up the sedative to knock me out. It took me the whole of yesterday to convince myself that that too was the result of amnesia. Good thing too, because I'm sure the rest of it felt even more horrible than the beginning.