I Forgot To Remember: A Memoir of Amnesia
I Forgot To Remember: A Memoir of Amnesia by: Su Meck with David de Lisé
Review by: Rebecca Ruddy
In Su Meck’s I Forgot To Remember, the author recounts her experience following a life-changing accident that left her with retrograde as well as anterograde amnesia. In the spring of 1988, Su Meck, her husband, and two children were in their home in Texas, when their kitchen ceiling fan came crashing down on Meck’s head. Unable to remember anything prior to the accident (no recollection of family, past experiences, and no comprehension of the simplest things like common objects), her memoir gives the reader a look into the difficulties of recovering from traumatic brain injury. She details her everyday life: where she found herself mimicking those around her, and learning along with her young children as they completed their grade school homework. It also gives insight into the difficulties of reforming past relationships, particularly with her husband who was integral in her new identity.
Another important part of the book details what transpires immediately following the injury, while she is hospitalized. It documents the failure of the medical professionals involved to properly care for a patient with memory loss. She was discharged just three weeks following the injury, when she could not properly care for herself, let alone her two children. This treatment exemplifies only one of the many shocking aspects of her recovery.
The book was an eye-opening and intriguing memoir that gives the reader a first person perspective into the difficult recovery process following traumatic brain injury. It allows the reader to thoroughly understand the intricacies and magnitude of the injury, and the everyday struggles. I found it particularly interesting to read about how she adapted to different circumstances (such as moving to a new country and returning to school), and I realized how we often take for granted many of the small tasks that come so easily to most. The seemingly simplest task could be a huge hurdle to overcome for someone with a brain injury.
One inherent limitation of a memoir about amnesia is the fact that the author has no recollection of many events that she writes about. Meck acknowledges this fact immediately, but it is clear in the book that sometimes there are striking discrepancies between the medical records and what her husband remembers, as well as errors in the medical records themselves. Therefore, although she has consulted family, friends, and medical records, her stories may not always be accurate or complete.
Overall, the author is able to effectively portray her journey to recovery. She manages to successfully convey the hardships she suffered, and triumphs she accomplished in a coherent and well-written story about her life. Meck delves into very personal details that touch on very difficult parts of her recovery, which really allows the reader to gain a greater and more complete appreciation for everything she has been through and accomplished. I would highly recommend this memoir as it is a real, emotional, and eye-opening look into the painstaking process of recovery.