Transient global amnesia is a sudden, temporary episode of memory loss that can’t be attributed to a more common neurological condition, such as epilepsy or stroke. During an episode of transient global amnesia, your brain refuses to make new memories so recall of recent actions and events simply vanishes. You suddenly can’t remember where you are or how you got there.
Imagine leaving your home in a rush to catch a bus and coming to yourself in a hospital emergency room 7 hours later with no recall of how you got there or why you were brought there by ambulance. That’s what happened to Ms. D.West.
The last memory she recalls was breaking into a run for a bus that was about to pass her by. A concerned neighbor who did not personally know her but had seen Ms. W. coming and going from the condo building on the corner, discovered her wandering the street asking strangers how she got there and inquiring whose clothes she was wearing.
The neighbor gently convinced her to walk back to the building so that she could ask someone to get help. The building security guard was stunned to see the same woman who had just waved at him as she was leaving not more than 10 minutes earlier yet had no recollection of where she was or who he was. They called an ambulance immediately. It happens that fast!
A high-profile person discussed his recent bout with Transient Global Amnesia. Jeff Probst is best known as the Emmy Award-winning host of the U.S. version of the reality television show, Survivor. While attempting to book reservations by phone one morning, first Probst couldn’t remember his wife’s date of birth then he couldn’t remember how to call her. He could remember how to text so he sent her a message asking her to call him. When she called, Probst told his wife that suddenly he didn’t know what was happening and that he didn’t know “anything.”
He even had to ask his wife where she and their kids were because he could not remember. Over the next few hours, Probst had zero recollection of anything that was happening to him. I had no idea who I was or where I was, Probst later said he even wrote a note on his laptop that said, ‘For our records, I have no idea why I’m wearing these clothes. I have no idea where our kids are. I have no idea what day it is. I have no idea why I’m writing this.'” Later on, Probst confessed he had no memory of writing it.
Like others stricken with TGA, Probst had to see a neurosurgeon who figured out that for three hours of “absolutely no memory” he had transient global amnesia, a sudden episode of temporary memory loss.
Also, like countless others, Probst said that he thought it could possibly be early dementia and was somewhat relieved to get the rare TGA diagnosis.
How common is transient global amnesia (TGA)?
Transient global amnesia (TGA) occurs in approximately 3 to 10 people out of every 100,000. Neurologists, however, are reporting they are seeing more and more patients that are brought in with lost memory and unaccounted for time that is finally diagnosed as Transient Global Amnesia.