Great Britain

I lost my entire long-term memory and couldn’t remember my own boyfriend after suffering a nosebleed

AFTER suffering a nosebleed, Sophie Clayton lost her entire long-term memory.

She could not remember her boyfriend Jonathan Wilson, let alone their plans to buy a home together.

Sophie, 26, was taken to hospital where she was eventually diagnosed with functional neurological disorder (FND) — a condition where the signals between the brain and nervous system are interrupted.

She could not remember her name, her childhood, her parents or her job as an emergency call handler. Since then, Jonathan, a builder, has been reminding her of their time together.

He has shown Sophie photo albums and recreated their most special dates in a bid to keep his girlfriend.

Sophie says: “I’m falling back in love with Jonathan all over again. Although I am sad that I have forgotten all these things that I’ve done before, it is quite special getting to see things for the first time with Jonathan.”

Last November, Sophie was getting ready for a night shift at the home she shares with mum Julie, 55, an ambulance service station manager, and dad John, a butchering manager, in Worcester Park, Surrey.

She says: “I don’t normally have nosebleeds, but I didn’t think it was really anything to worry about.

“It had been bleeding for about 20 minutes and I was waiting in the kitchen with my mum for it to stop when blood suddenly started pouring out of my left eye.

“We both stayed calm, but now I find it difficult being in the kitchen because I get flashbacks.

“Mum sat me down on the kitchen floor and my left side went weak.

“She phoned for an ambulance as she thought I’d had a stroke and I asked her for my phone, so I could ring work and let them know I wouldn’t be in.

“But when I went to type in my pin to unlock the screen, I couldn’t remember the numbers. The ambulance arrived a few minutes later and they asked me what the date was and I couldn’t tell them.

“I couldn’t even remember my name. It was terrifying.”

Sophie was taken to St George’s Hospital in Tooting, South London, where she stayed for ten days. She has no recollection of the first two days.

She says: “My mum said that when I arrived at hospital I was seen by lots of doctors and neurologists as they tried to rule out different things such as a stroke or brain haemorrhage. I was also put on anti-viral medication for five days to prevent an infection.”

On the third day Sophie also had a lumbar puncture, which discounted meningitis.

She says: “My first memory of being in hospital is from the third day when a doctor told me I was about to have a lumbar puncture.

“I couldn’t remember anything. I had no idea who anybody was and I didn’t even know how old I was.

“I was in a room full of strangers, including myself, and it was absolutely terrifying.

“Mum had been with me all the time but I didn’t recognise her and when my dad arrived, I didn’t know who he was.

“Jonathan was the last person I had texted, so I knew I had a boyfriend but not who he was exactly. I just kept asking my mum if she’d told ‘that man’ what had happened.

“He had come to see me on the second day but I don’t remember that. I remember seeing him on day three.

“When he arrived at the ward and my mum introduced us, I instantly cried because I was so desperate to remember him but I couldn’t.

“Jonathan told me that he loved me and I said that I loved him too, and then he held my hand while my dad explained everything the doctors had said.”

Sophie was eventually diagnosed with FND — a condition she could have been born with. There had been a small amount of pressure on her brain which the nosebleed released, causing her nervous system to disconnect from her brain on the left side.

She says: “This caused weakness on my left side and cleared all my memories. My speech was affected and I couldn’t remember small things like how to write, hold my knife and fork or even brush my hair.”

Jonathan and Sophie had met on Tinder in November 2017 and became a couple within weeks.

Sophie says: “One of our first dates was at Bath Christmas market. Once I was out of hospital, Jonathan took me back there.

“He also took me to Kew Gardens, which is where he had asked me to be his girlfriend in December 2017. He drove me around London to show me all the landmarks I had forgotten.

“In the beginning I felt so self-conscious as I was different. But he always told me I was beautiful and that he loved me.

“It also hurt not being able to remember these memories we shared but I’ve loved him recreating them.

“I soon found myself falling in love again.

“He and my friends have made books of photos from our times together.

“He sends me pictures that pop up on his phone and he will explain where it was taken and what we had done.

“He also bought some cute little bottles with messages inside that tell me reasons why he loves me. I open them whenever I am down and they make me smile.”

Six months since her nosebleed, Sophie is still relearning the skills she lost. She says: “I go to West Park Hospital in Epsom four times a week for occupational therapy and physiotherapy to help me walk again.

“It’s been hard being in a wheelchair and I dream of walking, maybe even running again. But most importantly, I want to be able to go back to work.

“I also live with my parents at the moment. They have been brilliant. But Jonathan and I are looking at houses and will hopefully move in together next year.”

Sophie does not know what the future holds.

She says: “I’ll always have FND and there is little research into it so doctors can’t say if my memory will ever come back, or even whether this could all happen again.

“Initially, I felt shocked, confused and sad to have lost 26 years of memories, but now I’m focusing on making new ones.

“And rather than worrying about the potential for this to happen again, I am getting on with living my life.”

Jonathan, 26, says: “It was devastating learning what happened to Sophie. I felt so helpless and was so nervous driving up to the hospital for the first time.

“When Sophie’s mum introduced me to Sophie, the realisation really hit home. It’s been a challenging time for us, but it has been lovely reminiscing on our relationship.

“I am just grateful to have Sophie, and grateful that she still has her personality and smile.”

Moment doctors pulls wriggling leech out of patients nose after weeks of nosebleeds

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