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Tony Martyr02/06/2020 15:38:27
210 forum posts
41 photos

The photo used as my forum portrait was taken during the time I was giving a presentation to an engineering conference in Graz, Austria. The point of interest is that during the 6 hours preceding the lecture and for the one hour it took, I was in a state of Total Global Amnesia (TGA) which means that although apparently rational and giving a coherent talk I was laying down no memory. I remember going to bed the night before but the next memory was being aware of being asked in German to count a medic's fingers while we sat in an ambulance.

That morning I had dressed, had breakfast, talked to colleagues, taken a taxi, listened to lectures and had lunch before my lecture. A friend sitting in the front row realised something was wrong when I was asked the first question at the end of the talk - I started the talk over again!

A stroke was suspected, but TGA is benign, except that it is deeply unsettling, and cases of long duration and complex actions are quite rare. Graz is the site of the Sigmund Freud Institute where I was sent for 3 days having every test known to man before being passed out as fit but bewildered. I will never get my memories of the day back because I never saved them. I look at that photo a wonder what the hell is going on in there!


Michael Gilligan02/06/2020 15:44:54
20182 forum posts
1053 photos

Very interesting, Tony ...Thanks for sharing your experience

... I think I would rather have TGA by proxy.


Tony Martyr02/06/2020 16:15:57
210 forum posts
41 photos

'TGA by proxy' is a mind-bending concept.

How about inventing a self-test one could run each morning to prove that you are, or are not, laying down memory (in TGA state) - in fact it is impossible.

V8Eng02/06/2020 16:25:59
1701 forum posts
1 photos

Wow that sounds a really horrible thing to happen.

My worry about getting up during lockdown then trying to remember which day of the week it is pales into total insignificance!

Edited By V8Eng on 02/06/2020 16:30:34

Michael Gilligan02/06/2020 16:33:11
20182 forum posts
1053 photos
Posted by Tony Martyr on 02/06/2020 16:15:57:

'TGA by proxy' is a mind-bending concept.



Sorry if I worded that badly, Tony

I meant that I would prefer not to have TGA, but merely to ‘experience’ yours by proxy


Tony Martyr02/06/2020 17:14:00
210 forum posts
41 photos

Michael - it was worded perfectly because the whole concept and experience is bizarre.

I did not relate this but 4 years later I had a repeat event. I gave a talk to a local U3A group and remember only arriving at the venue. I gave the talk, cracked jokes, and once again started to behave strangely during questions. Luckily my sister was in the audience and got me out. 4 hours in Hereford hospital and I suddenly 'came out of it' as my wife was driving me home. I have absolutely no recall of anything inbetween and never will have. The Consultant said to me "if you decide to murder anyone and claim TGA as a defense please call me as your prime witness". So was I conscious ? not really but fully functional. I don't give lecture any more - except to my grandchildren.

Neil Wyatt02/06/2020 17:29:23
19032 forum posts
734 photos
80 articles



Rockingdodge02/06/2020 17:45:42
315 forum posts
72 photos

That is scary, I'm trying to think of positives for TGA.... Sorry darling, I bought a new Lathe? Really don't remember laughdevil


Steviegtr02/06/2020 22:58:03
2432 forum posts
336 photos

You have my full sympathy on this subject. It must always be a worry that it can happen any time. A trend though, do you think maybe the stress of doing a lecture could bring on this condition. I could never stand before a crowd & give a talk. The brain is one of the most complicated structures known to man.

On a slightly different note. I had a friend who had a horrific motorcycle crash. We went to visit him when he was out of ICU. He was saying that when he is asleep & on morphine that his dreams were real & when awake it was like he was in a dream. He openly said that we were not really visiting him because that was only a dream. He recovered completely from that accident fortunately. But sadly died some years later in a different accident.


vintage engineer03/06/2020 00:11:45
258 forum posts
1 photos

Our troops who were wounded in Afghanistan suffer a similar problem when put into an induced coma. When they come round they think they are still in Afghanistan when in reality they are safe in the UK. Must be pretty unsettling.

CHARLES lipscombe03/06/2020 01:38:12
119 forum posts
8 photos

A very unsettling experience Tony which I am sorry to hear you went through.

The wife of a friend of mine had a similar experience some 2-3 years ago but has had no problems since and no clear cause has emerged.

I have had a lesser experience in the course of international travel, but there was a clearly identifiable cause which was a combination of extreme fatigue, lack of sleep and jet lag.

I was walking down a corridor at Manila airport which had no natural daylight and I suddenly realised that I had no idea what time it was, whereabouts in the world I was, why I was there or why I was walking down this corridor. I just kept walking and luckily I was able to piece things together quite quickly when I emerged from the corridor. That experience was quite scary enough for me albeit much less severe than yours


Howi03/06/2020 09:17:29
359 forum posts
19 photos

TGA is not uncommon, and while the person suffering the condition has no recollection, it can be quite perplexing to say the least for their nearest and dearest.

My wife and I were on holiday on Majorca (Soller actually) when she had a bit of a melt down. All the symptoms point to a stroke. She was taken to a local clinic who also thought it was a stroke but didn't say, only that she would be transfered to a major hospital in Palma.. Now! bearing in mind that we were due to fly back the next day I was getting just a little worried.The hospitals preliminary diagnosis was a stroke and that we would be going knowhere.To me, watching here reactions, while it looked like a stroke, there were no indications of left/right handed problems usually associated with stroikes, just a loss of short term memory. She had all the tests the hospital could do before they came to the same conclusion as me, Not a stroke but TGA (never heard of it before then). Recovery is very quick and the likelyhood of it ever occuring again is very small. It was probably brought on by heat and dehydration and is the body's defence system protecting the major parts of the brain inc long term memory. Overall , quite an experience for me, not her, as she has no recollection. This is where travel insurance comes in handy, although I had to shout and screem at them to get some action, it all worked out in the end.

She was discharged from the hospital in Palma with a full set of medical notes on a CD (this was a private hospital) to give to her GP.

Certainly made for an interesting holiday.

SillyOldDuffer03/06/2020 09:39:51
8675 forum posts
1961 photos

The brain is a marvellous thing, and although Tony's example is extreme, I think we've probably all experienced it mildly. As when I find myself upstairs wondering what I'm looking for, or discover I'm putting the kettle in the fridge, or drove home from work and arrived unable to remember anything of the journey.

Charles and Vintage both mention stressful situations, and that could be a factor in Tony's case too, Public speaking is terrifying!

Perhaps the most common serious example is pilots losing 'situational awareness';. Distracted by an unusual event, aircrew miss or ignore the bleeding obvious and crash foolishly. Flight 173 is an example, there are others!

Military men train to reduce the effect. Combat is conducted within an Observe, Orient, Decide, Act loop, and defeat follows if the loop breaks at any point. Breaking the oppositions loop is one of the objectives considered in military planning.

Stressed decision making is often bad decision making, and loss of situational awareness is a major cause of Human Error. Despite everyone on this forum being clever, who's never done something stupid due to a temporary confusion.

We mostly recover quickly from these events, laugh and move on. No joke if the effect is long lasting - very unpleasant, and stressful in itself.

Extreme fear has unusual effects too. I was in busy motorway traffic on the Almondsbury interchange at 60mph, just passing the M3 South exit, when a roof-rack plus suitcases came off a car three or four in front of me. The vehicles immediately behind weaved frantically - I was about to be in a motorway pile-up. I remember vividly the shower of sparks coming off the roof-rack as it scraped across the tarmac, 3-lanes of cars swerving wildly in all directions, and a caravan to my left tilted with one wheel off the ground at about bonnet level. Everything happened in slow motion, in total silence, and in black and white - briefly, the whole world drained of colour. Amazingly it sorted itself out, but I reckon several cars en-route to Wales and the North found themselves heading South instead due to evasive action! Another curiosity, rather than being upset that my family had nearly been wiped out in a serious accident, I was as high as a kite, full of the joys of spring! Not normal!


Graham Stoppani03/06/2020 11:15:02
123 forum posts
26 photos

I had amnesia for a while following a motorcycle accident. My first recollection afterwards was being sat on the curbside in a large puddle of blood. Cautiously checking myself for injury I couldn't find anything amiss. I then realised it was the red TQF oil that had spilled out from a broken fork leg.

Later in the afternoon I was found wandering the streets in a daze pushing a broken motorcycle and taken in by a friend. While sat in her flat I was hallucinating watching a picture over her fireplace sliding from side to side across the wall. The next morning when I got home I was dragged of to A&E by my mum for X rays and such like.

It was only when I was contacted a few days later by the driver of the car I'd hit that I found out another vehicle was involved; the police and ambulance had been in attendance; and that I had refused to get in the ambulance or press charges against the driver that had pulled out on me.

Tony Martyr03/06/2020 11:15:42
210 forum posts
41 photos

The posting from Howl is particularly interesting because it reports a TGA from an observer's point of view.

One strange feature of the attacks is that one typically emerges out of the state with no sense of shock or distress.

One truly horrible part of my first case was that I was sent a video of my lecture which I found I could not watch - here was me apparently acting normally but not being conscious of the event at the time - a sort of robot which is the image in the photo that started this posting.

A set of common features of both events was that although I didn't feel nervious they were both big events and I had practiced the content and the timing of each presentation. A consultant said that was probably what enabled me to perform a complex task for so long and why the (unpracticed) question session at the end created the problem in my performance, yet I remained in a TGA state, in the case of the last case for 3 more hours.

I have corresponded with several people who have suffered similar cases and it is difficult to find a common cause but stress must come into it.

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