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A father woke up one morning thinking it was the 1990s after losing 20 years of memories – including his marriage and daughter – because of a rare brain condition.
Daniel Porter, 36, from Granbury, Texas, woke up next to his wife, Ruth, 37, in July last year with no idea who she was or where he was.
The hearing specialist thought he was 16 and it was time to get ready for school, and he had no memory of his wife lying next to him or their daughter Libby, 10.
Ruth had to convince Daniel that he hadn’t been kidnapped and that she was his wife, but only with the help of his parents.
He even became angry when he first looked in the mirror, asking why he was ‘old and fat’.
The couple were told to expect his memories back within 24 hours when doctors told him that he’d suffered Transient Global Amnesia, which is a sudden, temporary interruption of short-term memory.
Daniel Porter, 36, from Granbury, Texas, woke up next to his wife, Ruth, 37, in July last year with no memory of his wife Ruth, 37, or daughter Libby, 10
He woke up thinking it was the 1990s and it was time to get ready for school due to a brain condition (pictured: Daniel having a brain test)
Although Daniel has been retaining memories since last year, he still has no recollection of the 20 years before that including his wedding day and the birth of Libby.
During an episode of transient global amnesia, which tend to end in one-eight hours and no more than 24, patients are unable to make new memories.
Although it is unclear what the cause of Daniel’s condition could be, one possible theory is that it could be down to emotional stress after Daniel lost his job, sold his house to move in with his parents and suffered with a slipped disc in his back prior to the episode.
Ruth said: ‘He woke up one morning and just had no idea who I was or where he was. He was very confused. I could tell he didn’t recognise the room.
‘He thought he was either drunk and gone home with a woman or that he’d been kidnapped. I could see him looking for an escape route.’
Daniel remembered a WWE programme and when Ruth researched when it was aired she worked out that he thought it was the 90s.
She helped him get dressed, and he thought that she was putting him into her husband’s clothes, who he thought was going to ‘come home any minute’.
The couple were staying on Daniel’s parents farm, and they confirmed that Ruth was his wife.
Although Daniel has been retaining memories since last year, he still has no recollection of the 20 years before that including his wedding day and the birth of Libby (pictured: Daniel and daughter Libby before he lost his memories)
After he woke up and looked in the mirror with memories, Daniel was angry and ‘asked why he was old and fat’ (pictured: Daniel, Libby and Ruth after the memory loss)
Daniel believed his parents, but had no idea that he had a daughter and was scared of their dogs, Ruth said.
Ruth added: ‘He was angry when he looked at himself in the mirror. He was asking why he was old and fat.’
As well as losing memories with his loved ones, including meeting Ruth in 2006 at Walmart where they both worked and their wedding in 2007, Daniel has lost all memory of his education and has had to give up work as a hearing specialist.
Ruth has been trying to help Daniel get back some of his memories by driving them around his old neighbourhood and reintroducing him to friends.
She said: ‘It’s weird because I’m in an old relationship and he’s in a new one.’
Daniel had hidden Libby’s birthday presents a week before he got amnesia and, when her birthday came around, the family couldn’t locate them as Daniel couldn’t remember where he’d put them.
After taking Daniel (right) to hospital, Ruth (left) discovered he’d suffered Transient Global Amnesia, a sudden, temporary interruption of short-term memory and the pair were told to expect that he’d have his memory back within 24 hours (pictured together before his memory loss)
Daniel has lost all memory of his education and has had to give up work as a hearing specialist and Ruth has been trying to help Daniel get back some of his memories by driving them around his old neighbourhood and reintroducing him to friends (pictured together after his memory loss)
Ruth added: ‘We didn’t find one present until four months later and they were shoes so she’d grown out of them by the time we found them.’
Daniel’s memory loss means that his personality is now also different, Ruth said, adding that he has ‘different tastes in food’.
She continued: ‘It’s really strange but his sense of humour is still good. He’s more friendly and sociable, he loves going out but he didn’t used to.’
Daniel had started having stress induced seizures in January 2020 after losing his job, selling his house to move in with his parents and suffering with a slipped disc in his back.
As well as losing his job and selling their house and most of their possessions in 2019, the couple moved to Missouri for work but didn’t get paid.
Ruth explained that this meant they ended up stranded with no friends or family around.
Daniel had started having stress-induced seizures in January 2020 after losing his job, selling his house to move in with his parents and suffering with a slipped disc in his back (pictured: Daniel, Libby and Ruth together before the hearing loss)
When Daniel woke up with a wiped memory, Ruth and her husband were at his parents farm so they could confirm that she was his wife and he believed them (pictured together after his memory loss)
The couple then moved back home to Daniel’s parent’s farm to ‘get their feet back on the ground’. However, the month they moved, Daniel started to experience non-epileptic seizures.
The seizures started off pretty violent, Ruth explained, with one causing a slipped disc in his back, leaving Daniel in a great deal of pain.
Ruth said: ‘He walks with a walking stick and a bit like an old man. He dealt with that for around six months and all this other stuff back to back and it was like his brain just said it didn’t want to do it anymore and just swiped 20 years of memories.
‘I knew that when people have been through trauma that they can lose their memory of it but I didn’t know it could cause 20 years of memory loss.
‘He’s going to therapy to see if working through the trauma can help but it’s hard to work through stuff you can’t remember.’
Ruth said that Daniel’s personality is different after his memory loss, including having different tastes in food and being more friendly and sociable (pictured: Daniel and Libby together before his memory loss)
What is Transient Global Amnesia?
Transient Global Amnesia (TGA) is a sudden, temporary interruption of short-term memory.
The condition occurs in approximately 3 to 10 out of every 100,000 people, according to Cleveland Clinic.
Patients suffering with the condition may be disoriented, not know where they are or be confused about time, but are otherwise alert, attentive and have normal thinking abilities.
During an episode, which is generally brief, patients are unable to form new memories. The effects tend to be temporary, but the patient often does not remember anything from the episode.
- Anxiety and agitation
- Repeatedly asking questions about what is happening
- Retaining personal identity during the episode
- Able to complete complex routine tasks during the episode
- Absence of signs suggesting damage to the brain tissue
- Episodes end in 1-8 hours, no more than 24
The cause of TGA is unknown, although people older than 50 are more likely to experience the condition. There is also research linking patients who have a history of migraines with those who experience the condition.
In most cases, there is no certain trigger to an episode while in rare cases, events such as hard physical activity, sexual intercourse, sudden exposure to very hot or very cold water, emotional stress or mild head trauma can trigger an episode.
The condition is diagnosed by eliminating other conditions, such as epilepsy, and tests include a neurological exam, blood tests, MRI, CT, EEG and psychiatric evaluation.