Dad With Amnesia Faces Memory Loss Every Six Hours After Car Crash

Posted by Sama in Heartbreaking On 18th November 2021

Daniel opens up about his life after a life-changing car accident that led him to lose all his close relationships and friendships. Learning to cope with his unique condition, Daniel has learned to live with this condition and in order to remember what he needs to do or what he has done, Daniel writes numerous lists and keeps an incredibly detailed diary of everything he's done so that he can look back on it the following day.

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Daniel suffered a horrible traffic accident some six years ago that badly damaged not only his brain but also left him with only a 'six-hour memory.'

Following his accident, Daniel went through intensive physio and speech therapy which greatly helped him regain his old life. However, some pieces of it are still missing for him. 

Though Daniel has learned to live with this kind of life where he can only recall things in a linear fashion and if he doesn't make a note of places he's been and people he's met, they will disappear completely after a day.

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This life-changing accident thas not only impacted his physical health but it has completely altered his relationships, leading him to split up with his then-girlfriend and to grow apart from friends he no longer remembered or felt connected to.

Even with former partner Katharina - whom he met after the accident - for him every day is like a new day with no long-term memories to cherish.

Credit: Arte

Talking about his life in the documentary Living Without Memoryabout the accident, which he has learned from notes, Daniel says: "That's the day I didn't die. It wasn't exactly normal that I made it, and that's why I look at that day in a positive light."

Credit: Arte
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He explained: "I was going to see my sister. I was on the motorway. There was a traffic jam and I was the last one to join it.

"I was sitting there and then a car came up behind me, it was a big seven-seater with a young family inside, and the driver didn't see the traffic jam at all."

He added: "He smashed into me at over 80mph. The entire motorway was closed. There were a lot of injuries, but they weren't too serious. I was airlifted to hospital. I suffered a severe traumatic brain injury - they call it a level three TBI."

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The injuries left him with long-term health-related repercussions and now Daniel is unable to transfer his short-term memory to long-term memory which means between going to sleep and waking up, he will have forgotten everything that has happened that day.

So to remember his day-to-day events and live his life in some order, Daniel writes numerous lists and keeps an incredibly detailed diary of everything he's done so that he can look back on it the following day.

Credit: Arte
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After his crash, Daniel met Katharina and he told her about his medical condition and that they had to see each other in the next few days or he would have forgotten who she was.

"I'd need to get in touch by the third day at the latest," he said. "I'd need to hear her voice or we'd need to talk, and above all, see each other.

"Otherwise it would be like meeting her for the first time."

However, despite these limitations, Daniel has learned to cope with this reality and go about his life living with his amnesia, dedicating much of his time to helping other people with a similar condition, creating a group for dozens of others like him.

He also visits schools, businesses and other organisations to talk about it.

And a few years ago, he and Katharina had a little boy, Levi, which brought with it another series of challenges.

Credit: Arte
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While most parents are able to make long-term memories with their kids, for Daniel this brings about its own challenges as he can't even experience his own childhood growing up.

"I can't remember my son's birth, and that's really horrible," Daniel said.

He explained that having to deal with his condition on a daily basis is like 'learning to swim' and that it takes its toll on him mentally.

"Unfortunately, depression is common among brain injury sufferers," he admitted. "Not for everyone, but sadly, it's normal for me."

Filmmaker Nadine Niemann who made a documentary with Daniel and Katharina, who have now separated but remain very close said it taught her about the importance of memories.

She said: "The most important thing was how important memories are for our life, for our relationships... For every kind of relationship.

"And I learned a lot about the importance of our brain and that we (or scientists) still don't know much about how it works the way it does. I appreciate my memories much more now."

Credit: Arte
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