Beep. Beep. Beep. The sound seemed like it was coming from a machine somewhere far away and it got louder with every repeated beep. She opened her eyes slowly and had to shut them back immediately as the bright white light pierced her eyes. Why would there be bright light in her room?
“I think she’s coming out of it” a male voice. Why was a man in her room?
“Sarah, are u awake? Can you hear me?” the same voice. Who was Sarah and why was the man asking if she was awake? Was she sharing her room with someone else? She tried to open her eyes slowly, testing the intensity of the light before finally opening them after they adjusted to the light. She opened her eyes to white walls with a fluorescent white bulb fixed at the edge of the wall, close to the ceiling. No wonder the light was blinding, too much whites.
“Sarah can you hear me?” she turned her eyes to the direction the voice was coming from and saw the unfamiliar face of an aging man wearing a lab coat.
“Blink if you can hear me” she blinked once, then twice as a reflex action. She looked the man up closely and noticed that he was going bald at the edges and he had streaks of grey hair in his hair. She let her eyes go down to the pocket of his lab coat and read what she assumed was his name printed at the top edge. Dr. Robinson. So he was a doctor, explains why he had a lab coat on.
“She would survive. She might have a headache for a while though” he gave her a kind smile, walking closer to her and placing his palm on her face and forehead as if to check her temperature. He then moved his hands to her eyes and checked them also.
“Everything seems okay. The only issue I sense might be dealing with the shock of what happened. Give her the meds now, the headache should start anytime soon.” He walked to the edge of her bed, picked up a card and scribbled some things on it. It was plain obvious she was in a hospital ward now but for what reason? What did the doctor mean by the shock of what happened? She saw a nurse she had not noticed before come over to her bed with a tray in her hands. She assumed the tray contained medications.
“What happened to me?” she finally worked out one of the questions that had been bugging her since she opened her eyes.
“You were involved in an accident dear” the ebony nurse replied, giving her a warm smile as she placed the tray on a table next to her bed. “I need to adjust the bed a bit to make it comfortable to use your drugs. I hope that’s okay” the nurse continued, already moving to adjust the lever wheel of the bed. Sarah noticed her left arm was bandaged as it felt heavier to lift. The nurse then walked to a far corner in the room, Sarah did not see what she was doing but when she came back, she had a glass of water in her hands and Sarah realized there was a water dispenser at the corner of the room the nurse just walked from.
“Can you hold this? Or would you rather I held it for you?” the nurse asked patiently, holding out the glass of water out to her. Sarah flexed her right wrist a bit and after concluding it felt relatively normal, she reached to collect the cup from the nurse
“It’s fine, I can hold it” she adjusted well on her bed and watched the nurse pick out some meds from the tray. She looked up to see the doctor looking at her, still smiling warmly, both his hands tucked into the lower pockets of his coat. The nurse handed the drugs to her and she swallowed then, drowning them with the water and returned the glass cup to the nurse, who accepted it and walked out of the room with the tray.
“Thank you.” she tried to wipe her mouth with the back of her wrist and realized that she had a tube of some sort attached to it. Oh, the accident. She tried to remember how the accident happened but couldn’t.
“What type of accident was it?” She turned her head towards the doctor as the first pang of headache hit. She instinctively placed her palm on her head.
His smile faded as he brought out his hands from his pocket and walked to her side. “ A car accident. You don’t remember?” he picked up the same card he scribbled on earlier and glanced through it. He dropped the card and looked at her, worry etching his features.
“No I don’t. I wouldn’t be asking if I did.” She furrowed her brows and looked up at him
“What do you remember?” the doctor asked, sitting down at the edge of her bed, close to her.
“Uhmm, well…” she tried to picture what she saw last but couldn’t remember a thing. It was weird. “I really can’t remember anything”
“Sarah- “ the doctor started,
“I’m not Sarah. You have been calling me Sarah since I woke up. I think you have the wrong patient, I’m sorry.” What kind of doctor forgets his own patient’s name? She saw confusion grace the doctor’s features as he reached for the card which she assumed was her file, looking at it, then back at her as he dropped the file again. She didn’t mean to be rude but then she needed to clear things up. It felt wrong answering to another person’s name.
“okay…. I’m sorry” the doctor looked at her tentatively, dragging out his words. “Would you tell me your name then? If you don’t mind, that is” he blinked twice
“My name is-..” wait, what was her name? She had a name right? Why couldn’t she remember it? Was that even possible? “My name, I don’t know it. I mean, I can’t remember it, I can’t remember my name” she felt shivers run down her spine. There was something very wrong with the situation. She wakes up from an accident she doesn’t remember being involved in, and she doesn’t even remember her name.
The elderly doctor drew out a long sigh. “You were in the car with someone else, do you remember her?”
There was someone else in the car? “No no, I don’t. I thought I was alone. Maybe if I saw her though, I might be able to remember her.” It sounded unreasonable, even to her hearing. How was she going to remember another person when she couldn’t even remember her own name, or age or life?
The doctor drew out another long sigh. This was very bad. She could feel it in her bones. She saw the door open and shifted her gaze back to the doctor when she saw that it was the nurse from the other time that walked in.
“You said you didn’t remember anything?” she doctor asked again, this time worry spread all over his features. She closed her eyes and tried to rack through her brain to come up with something. Nothing. No memory of work, or school, or family, nothing at all. She was completely blank. She opened her eyes slowly to the worried look on the doctor’s face.
“Nothing. I’m completely blank.” She felt herself begin to sweat as the reality dawned on her. She was a complete stranger, even to herself. Her mouth suddenly went dry
“Can can I have water, a glass of water, water please” she couldn’t help the stutter. The nurse went to the water dispenser to get it for her. She felt her body begin to shake slowly and she rushed down the water as soon as the nurse handed the cup to her, emptying its contents.
“More please” she handed the cup back to the nurse who collected it and went to get more. The doctor reached out to place his hands on her shoulder
“Calm down for a bit. Breathe in slowly, and out” she obeyed the doctor and after doing it a couple more times, she felt herself relaxing slowly. The nurse handed her another glass of water, this time she drank it halfway and placed the half filled glass on the table next to her. The doctor stood up, picking up her card once again, motioning to the nurse
“I need a CT scan. Prepare for it. And some tests also” he scribbled down some things on the card. He still had worry written all over his face.
“Okay sir.” The nurse walked out of the room, leaving the doctor behind. The doctor turned to her and gave her an assuring smile
“You’re going to be alright, okay? We’d just carry out some tests and a CT scan of your head to know where things went wrong. I suspect you sustained some injuries in some vital parts of your brain I believe it shouldn’t be too serious though.” So she might also be suffering from a brain injury. Just how worse could it get? . He smiled again and started walking towards the door then stopped as if he just remembered something abruptly looking back
“Sar-..” he stopped after remembering she didn’t even remember her name being Sarah. “uhmm-..” he continued, “your family is waiting for you outside. I think they would want to see you and make sure you are okay. Would you want that now or you need more time to collect your thoughts since you probably don’t remember anybody. Yet. She sensed the hope in the last word. She didn’t remember her ‘family’, how would she relate to them if they came in? Was she going to smile, or cry, or just go poker-face on them? How sure was she that they were really her family?
“Thank you. But I think I still need some time alone, no visitors yet please.” She felt a bit guilty at the choice of words ‘visitors’ but visitors sounded safer than family right now. The doctor gave a knowing smile and nodded his head
“Sure. I understand”
She remembered him mentioning something about the other lady in the car with her and she got a bit curious.
“When can I meet with the other lady you said was in the car with me? She probably remembers more than I do right now” She could be the key to recovering her memories.
“You get better first, then we’d talk about you meeting her after that” he gave a small smile, he looked sad. Why was he sad? Did the other lady lose her memories too? He was about to turn around back to leave the room when Sarah remembered the bed was still in a sitting position
“Could you please adjust the bed back to its original position? My head hurts a bit and I’m beginning to feel a bit sleepy” she called out to the doctor who gave another smile, walked back and adjusted the lever back to how it was.
“Try not to sleep off too soon. You are going in for a CT scan in a bit.” She nodded her head and gave a weak smile, hopefully she would know what ever was wrong with her after the results of the scan came out. The doctor was almost at the door when the door was pushed in by two nurses who she suspected came in to prepare her for the scan. They greeted the elderly doctor who just nodded his head at them and walked out.
“The doctor would see you in a few minutes. He has to go through the results of your tests and scan first” The same ebony nurse who assisted her the other time in her room said, helping her from the wheelchair back to her bed.
“Okay, no problem. Thanks for the help.” She was truly grateful to the nurse. She had personally volunteered to push her back to her room after she completed her scan and tests.
“You’re welcome dear. You can always call on me whenever you need my help. I’d come running over.” The nurse winked at her
“I’d hold you to your word. Trust me” Sarah chuckled then realized she didn’t know the nurse’s name “sorry I didn’t get your name” Sarah gave her a curious look
“That’s because I never mentioned it. My name is Ankia.” The nurse said, folding the wheelchair and bending to place it on a rack under the bed Sarah was occupying.
“Anka???” Sarah asked when the nurse stood back in an upright position, pushing her eyebrows together.
“Ankia.” She corrected with a smile.
“Oh…. Ankia, sorry. What does it mean?”
“It means grace.”
“hmmmmm, you have a nice name. I’d enjoy calling on you”
“You’re welcome dear. Can I call you Sarah? Do you mind?” the nurse was smiling. Being called Sarah did feel weird but it seems like everyone knew her by that name and she didn’t want to take off that smile from Ankia’s face
“Sure you can. I guess that’s my name” Sarah felt a pang of hurt tug at her heart as she remembered she still couldn’t remember anything about her life and she brought her eyes down to her blanket, drawing it up to her chest, avoiding eye contact with the nurse.
“Don’t worry, you’d get used to it with time. Who knows, you could remember everything in a few months, maybe less. You’d be fine” the nurse replied as though she could read Sarah’s thoughts. “I have to get going now, see you later. The doctor would be with you anytime from now though” Ankia patted Sarah’s shoulders and walked out of the room. Finally alone since she woke up, Sarah had the chance to really think about her present situation. Thinking about everything she learned since she woke up she had an idea about what happened; she was involved in an accident with another lady, a friend or sister perhaps; the accident might have left her with some brain damage because she presently couldn’t remember anything about her past life before the accident; and she had a family waiting to see her. Speaking of which, she should probably let them see her. If they were truly her family, they would undeniably be very worried now, it would be unfair to keep them worried and guessing. Come to think of it, being around familiar faces and people could help in regaining her memories. What if it didn’t? What if she never regained her memories? Would she have to live the rest of her life not knowing how her life was? What if she had wronged someone who had not forgiven her? What if she had debts to pay? How old was she? Was she working, or unemployed? Was she married or still single? Who exactly was she? Her head started to throb and she knew it was because she was thinking about too much at once and she tried to narrow down her thoughts to just thoughts and fantasies of regaining her memory.
The door was pushed open and she saw the doctor stroll in, a file in his hands with a big smile on his face like a parent who was happy about the success of their child and she couldn’t help but return the smile herself
“How is my newest favorite patient doing?” he touched his free hand on her face.
“I doubt I’m your favorite patient now. You just met me and I don’t even know myself” she tried to sit up but was stopped by the elderly man who held her to the bed and adjusted the lever of the bed instead.
“Well I just met you, true. But this is the first time I’m going to treat a patient with your condition.” She squeezed her face in confusion and the doctor continued, smiling “I’ve only read them in books and watched them in movies, not seen a real life patient in over twenty years of practice. It’s a very rare condition”
“What condition is that?” She sat in an upright position and placed her left bandaged hand on her thigh. The doctor sat down at the edge of the bed like he did earlier in the day and looked up at her with kind eyes.
“It’s a form of amnesia. Retrograde amnesia to be precise”
“uhn? What’s that? Is it permanent? Would I be able to get my memories back?”
“Relax, it’s not that bad” the elderly man chuckled, his wrinkle lines appearing. “Let me try to explain it to you. when you were involved in that accident, you hit your head pretty badly; I’m suspecting on the door or other surrounding body parts of the car and you suffered injuries to a part of your brain- your hippocampus. It is responsible for storing and encoding long and short term information. You also suffered minor injuries to other parts but with good medication and therapy, they would heal. These injuries, coupled with what I suppose is the shock of the accident triggered this form of amnesia. The good news is that with good therapy and medication it can be managed. There is a very high chance of you regaining your memories with time.” The doctor finished with a smile.
“Woah.. that’s great news.” She felt relief wash through her body. “I was already getting worried about what the future holds for me. How fast is the healing process?”
“Well, it depends on your body. It varies, but you should not try to rush it or you might just cause more harm than good. I’d refer you to a therapist who would help with the psychological part of the healing” he drew his eyebrows together, considering something “I think there are some memories you unconsciously wanted to forget. Major memories that you might have had trouble dealing with or coming to terms with; she would help you remember and deal with them properly.” He looked her in the face and gave her an assuring smile.
“Okay. It sounds like a plan” she returned the smile.
“Sarah, your family still wants to see you. It could actually help in regaining your memories you know, being around familiar environment and people. Besides, they’ve been here since you were admitted and it’s torture to have to tell them you didn’t want to meet them yet. You don’t have to pretend to remember them or something, just be as calm as you can be. I’d explain the situation of things to them before they come in”
“Thanks. I’m just a bit scared and nervous. I don’t know the type of person I was or the type of relationship we had before the accident. What If I was a terrible person” she tugged at the hem of her ward uniform
“Then take this as a second chance. A chance to prove you’re a good person. I believe you are a good person. Besides, I don’t think it matters now though, they still love you either way. They wouldn’t still be waiting outside for you if they didn’t . Just relax.” He stood up from the bed and headed towards the door “they would come see you in a bit okay? Thank you” she could only manage a smile as he walked out of her room.
Temi Johnson hesitated at the door to the ward her daughter was in for a minute, fearing what would ensue as soon as she goes through the door. Before the doctor broke the news to her, she was filled with anxiety to see her daughter; to make sure she was doing fine and tell her it was going to be alright after all those years of being apart. She was going to console her about the passing away of her best friend. All those plans came crashing down as soon as the doctor broke the news to her. Her daughter couldn’t remember anything, not even her own identity. The tears in her eyes threatened to fall, she closed her eyes and cleared her throat, trying to fight them. Her husband placed her hand on her shoulders from behind where he was standing and spoke softly
“It’s going to be okay sweetheart” he squeezed softly
She opened her eyes and nodded, opening the door and gently walking in. her husband and the doctor walked in behind her into the room, the doctor closing the door as soon as all of them were in. Temi looked up to see her daughter in an upright position slowly raise her head up to look at them as they walked towards her bed. The tears that have been threatening to fall since she got to the door of the room slid down easily immediately she saw the lost look on her daughters face. She really did not recognize anybody, her expression told it all. She looked like she was meeting them for the very first time. Temi quickly wiped the tears on her face as she managed a small smile, wiping her hands on her skirt
“Hey” she didn’t know how to start a conversation with a daughter who didn’t remember her mother. “How are you feeling?” she turned her head to face her husband and gave him a look that told him she needed his support. He also smiled and spoke softly, moving to stand beside his wife.
“Hello princess. The doctor told us everything. Hope you feeling good.”
Sarah looked at the two people who just spoke in front of her, then moved her gaze to the doctor who nodded and gave her an assuring look. She then turned her attention back to the people who she assumed were her parents. They looked devastated and had expectations on their faces as if they were expecting her to just suddenly remember them. They looked desperate.
“I’m fine, I feel good. Just a slight headache” she tried to brighten up her expression at the strangers
The door opened again and all four of them turned their direction towards it as three people came in. An elderly man and two teenage boys, the expressions on their faces showed they were in great pain. Sarah raised a questioning eyebrow at the doctor
“More family” he shrugged gently
“How are you feeling?” the elderly man spoke as soon as he was close to her.
“Well, I’m doing okay, just a mild headache.” She gave another hopeful smile. Who was this man and why did he look worse than the people she first assumed were her parents? Was she mistaken? Perhaps he was her real father and those boys were her brothers. She quickly dismissed the thought as soon as it came, he would have come earlier if he was her father. She stole a glance at the boys and noticed that one of them was glaring at her like she committed an offence and she quickly looked down. It wasn’t like it was her fault she had an accident.
“That’s good to hear then. We wish you a quick recovery.” He gave a quick reply with a small sad smile and instantly directed his attention towards her assumed parents
“Mr Johnson, Mrs Johnson, sorry my wife couldn’t make it. You know, with Debby and all. She’s still trying to come to terms with it.” Sarah noticed he winced a bit at the statement and she looked from her assumed parents to the man in confusion.
“We understand. We’re deeply sorry about her. Thanks for coming, we appreciate it very much” her assumed father spoke up, looking at the man with pain written all over his face.
“It’s fine. God knows best, He has the master plan.” The man was visibly shaking, fighting back tears. Who was Debby? His daughter? What was wrong with her? Could it be that she was the other lady involved in the accident with her? The doctor didn’t say anything about the other lady’s health. She looked at the doctor who had been staying quiet the whole time, she couldn’t read anything from his expressions so she turned her gaze back to the men talking
“We have to sign some papers, we’d call you when we are ready to go home so we’d go back together.” He turned to face Sarah and gave her another sad smile. “I’d come back to check up on you dear, get well soon” Sarah nodded as he made his move to leave the room when the teenage boy who had been glaring at her abruptly spoke up
“Is it true you don’t remember anything?” he had a suspicious expression on his face
“uhn?” Sarah was taken aback and widened her eyes in surprise
“Benjamin!!!” the man she assumed was his father called out and gave him a warning glare but the boy just ignored him and fixed his eyes on her
“Well, is it true?” he raised a brow
“uhmmm, I, I guess” Sarah stammered. His face was scary
“Oh. So it’s not a show” he scoffed
“Ben!!!” both the doctor and his father shouted in unison
“What is it dad?!! Why are you so calm? Why are you so nice?!!” the angered boy spat out. “She-..” he motioned at Sarah with disdainful look “She killed your daughter, my sister!! If it wasn’t for her I would still have a sister. Stop being so calm about it! I wish the reverse was the case, I wish it was Debby that came back instead of her.” His voice made it obvious he was fighting tears
“Stop it this moment!” his father barked angrily.
“It’s okay Ben” his brother spoke softly to him and led him out by his hands out of the room, nodding his head in apology at the people in the room.
Sarah felt her head spin. What did she just hear? She was also a murderer too? She heard their father speak from across the room where he was standing close to the door “I’m so sorry for his rash behavior. Please understand, he’s still mourning his sister. I shouldn’t have brought him in, I assumed he was mature.”
“It’s fine. Thanks for coming all the same. It means a lot” She heard her father say.
“Thank you. I’d call you when we’re good to go. See you later Sarah” and with that he left the room.
Sarah turned to face the doctor “Is it true? Am I a murderer now too? Did I kill a person? Was she the other lady in the car? Just who am I?” she could feel her heart racing now as beads of sweat started forming on her head and her headache came in full force. Her parents immediately came and wrapped their arms around her
“Of course you are not a murderer. It was an accident, and you weren’t even the one driving. It’s not your fault” the doctor spoke calmly, walking close to her bed
“But you all heard what that boy just said, I killed his sister” she winced at the pain that tugged at her heart at the thought of being a murderer
“Shhhhhh. It was a mistake. You are not a murderer sweetheart, it was a mistake.” Her father whispered and she hoped it was true because she couldn’t imagine herself being a murderer joining the list of things not going right in her life. She felt the tears running down her face as her parents cuddled her and kept on whispering to her that she wasn’t a murderer… she hoped they were right.