Man takes 10 000 pictures to document his life after surviving an accident which caused amnesia

2018-06-29 16:21
PHOTO: CATERS/WWW.MAGAZINEFEATURES.CO.ZA.

PHOTO: CATERS/WWW.MAGAZINEFEATURES.CO.ZA.

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A man has taken about 10 000 pictures after surviving a motorbike accident that’s left him with an “Alzheimer’s side effect” at the age of 32. 

Nick McMahon (40), had taken his Suzuki GSX-R1000 out for a ride when he accidentally bumped into something on the road. He was thrown off his bike and landed on his head.

Due to the horrific accident Nick suffered injuries to his skull, causing irreparable damage to his frontal lobe, the part of the brain that controls memory.

On some days the former roofer forgets who his wife is and what he was doing five minutes earlier, and he’s also lost about 10 years of his old memories.

Nick’s wife, Emma McMahon (39), from Dinnington is a former bank manager who says she had to quit her job in order to take care of her husband. She adds that the last seven years have been rather difficult but she’s grateful he survived.

“I remember seeing Nick laying unconscious on the hospital bed and I was just glad he was still alive,” she says.

Both Nick and Emma are focusing on making new and happy memories with their two boys, Connor (13) and eight-year-old Ryan. Moreover, Nick makes sure to document all the moments he wants to remember by taking a lot of pictures.

“At first after the accident it was like we were living on the edge of a knife because we never knew whether it was going to be a good or bad day,” Emma says.

“That’s still true now, but we’re used to it. On a bad day Nick would forget things every 5 minutes whereas on a good day he’d remember that day for almost two weeks then he’d forget it after that,” she adds.

Nick has on occasion forgotten who his wife is. It gets so bad that sometimes it feels as though they’re living with someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s, she explains. And he gets angry when he can’t remember certain things about his family, she says.

According to Emma their two boys have been dealing with the situation well. They understand that their father might need them to explain some things to him repeatedly, but they’re extremely patient with him.

She also acknowledges that it’s financially difficult because they both had to quit their jobs. Still they make sure to go on a lot of family adventures in order to create happy memories.

Nick takes pictures of all the memories he cherishes. But even though he has thousands of them, unlike other people, looking at an image doesn’t trigger a memory of smell, sound or of when the picture was taken. For Nick it’s as though nothing has happened.

On the day of the accident Emma and the boys had gone out shopping. Nick decided to take his bike for a ride and that’s when tragedy struck. He broke ribs, a collar bone and had internal bleeding. He was rushed to hospital and was unconscious for the majority of that week.

Every time he woke up it was pure confusion. At first Emma tried not to panic but then she thought to herself, “what if he really doesn’t remember who I am?” 

At first doctors believed Nick was suffering from post-traumatic amnesia and that he’d fully regain his memory after a few months. But when five months passed and there was still no improvement Nick was sent to a specialist who dealt with head injuries.

Emma says initially the doctors said he’d recover in a few months, but it has been seven years now and there’s still no sign of recovery. She adds that the specialists gave them more than enough therapy regarding how to deal with memory loss, and that’s when the family realised their lives were going to change forever.

Nick has also lost certain aspects of his personality which is a common side effect for patients who’ve suffered brain injuries. Nonetheless, his wife feels his personality change has made him more selfless and caring which has brought them closer together.  

Emma emphasises that Nick’s personality change was for the better because she feels he has matured. She says they’re a team now and they work together as a unit in everything they do – and that’s how they make it through all the hurdles.

She hopes their story can motivate others with similar problems to persevere.    

Read more on:    health

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