My parents gave me an antique name.
“That’s a bit old-fashion. Is it a family name?”
“No, neither one of our families ever had a Myron.”
“We just like the sound of it. It sings.”
“I guess so.”
My parents discussed my name with a friend, Helen, when I was two years old and I completely forgot about it until a few months ago.
Let me explain why I can remember that.
I’m 46 years old. When I turned 40 I wanted to do something adventurous to commemorate it. I decided to try skydiving. Long story short I suffered a head injury. Massive enough that when I woke in the hospital several days later I had no memory of the event. No memory of the last several months. I knew who I was, that I was married, but most life details were a muddy soup. If someone asked me how old I was, for example, I didn’t know, but guessed anywhere from 29 to 40.
The mental order wasn’t restored after several months of rehab. I consented to be part of an experimental drug trial, for dementia.
“You should notice a difference in a few weeks, but I want you to keep track of anything that stands out.”
I wasn’t even sure then what that meant. In a month though I had a clear memory of the accident, my personal history, the overall minutiae that went into my average day. I was back to my pre head injury self, with months left in the trial.
Strange things began to happen, but none of them worried me.
I knew they must be a byproduct of the drug, and I didn’t want to be taken off it. The return-to-normal phase only lasted a few weeks before my memory improved to higher levels than I’d ever had before.
Photographic memory is both useful and exhilarating. I didn’t tell a soul the day I released I had it.
“Have you seen my phone?”
Was the question my wife asked me when I realized what was happening. I reached into my mind the same way I always had to ponder such everyday questions. Instead of a drawer of crumpled mental post its I saw a detailed overlay of our house. It was as though my eyes were closed and I was visualizing the space, but I was staring at her and seeing it in a superimposed flash. Well, 2 flashes. One flash was a detailed, photo-realistic image of our house and everything in it, and the second flash every object had a dimmed color except for my wife’s phone.
“It’s under the bed.”
“Under the bed?”
It was an unusual answer. My wife didn’t like things under the bed.
Another few flashes:
- a bedside table
- the phone set down
- my wife reading in bed
- my wife putting the book on the bedside next to the phone
- the dog bumping the table, the book bumping the phone
- the phone drops onto carpet, gets pushed a few inches out of site when she got out of bed that morning
Pretty normal series of events. The problem though was that I had been asleep when all of that happened. The phone was there.
“Weird. Wonder how it got under there.”
I didn’t say. She didn’t press. We both dismissed it in our own way.
Remembering things evolved further. I told the doctors only what I knew they wanted to hear. As the end of the trial approached I started feeling panicky about coming off the drug.
Sleep changed for me. When I closed my eyes at night the events of my life kept assembling and sharpening. It was like a movie where things are shown moving in reverse. My past was fully reassembled and more details were revealed each night. I remembered being born. the blur, the lack of intelligence was overwritten somehow. I could tell you what socks the doctor who delivered me was wearing, how much change was in my father’s pocket, how many floor tiles there were.
I’m obsessed. I admit it.
The trial was over 3 years ago and the drug never came to market. I’m not sure if anyone else had the same experience. The progress of my memory has slowed, but is still improving. The regeneration seems to continue to occur. Every day seems a little longer. Information pours through my senses and is quickly processed. I close my eyes for a few seconds and I see a lifetime there.