A 37-year-old father of one from Texas woke up one day ready to go to school, thinking it was the 1990s, after losing the last two decades of his life, including ever marrying his wife and having a daughter.
In July of last year, Daniel Porter, a hearing specialist from Texas woke up in his bed just like any other morning, only something was wrong. A woman who he had never seen before was sleeping next to him, and when he looked in the mirror, an “old and fat” man was looking back at him. Daniel had gotten up thinking it was time to go to school, not knowing that he had graduated high-school nearly two decades before, and that the strange woman in his bed was his wife, with whom he had a 10-year-old daughter.
Daniel Porter had gone to sleep a 36-year-old father-of-one, and woke up the next day thinking he was still 16 and in high-school, with no recollection of his life as a family man. His wife, Ruth had to calm him down and explain that she was his wife and that he had not been kidnapped by a stranger. It sounds funny, but it was a scary experience for both of them.
“He woke up one morning and just had no idea who I was or where he was. He was very confused. I could tell he didn’t recognize the room,” Ruth said. “He thought he was either drunk and gone home with a woman or that he’d been kidnapped. I could see him looking for an escape route.”
Luckily, the couple had moved into his parents’ home and they helped her convince him that he was safe and where he was supposed to be. Still, he didn’t even recognize his 10-year-old daughter, Libby, and was afraid of their two dogs. He didn’t even recognize himself when looking in the mirror.
Doctors originally diagnosed Daniel Porter with Transient Global Amnesia – a sudden, temporary interruption of short-term memory – and told him that he should be back to his old self again within 24 hours. However, a year after waking up with no recollection of the last 20 years, the 37-year-old still can’t remember much of his life past his high-school days.
Not only does Porter not remember his wife and daughter, their pets, and the friends he’s made in the last two decades, but he has even forgotten all the education he got after high-school so he had to quit working as a trained hearing specialist. Ruth has been driving him through the neighborhood, reintroducing him to his old friends, in the hopes of bringing his memory back, but so far it hasn’t been working.
Things have been difficult for Daniel’s wife and daughter over the past year, as they struggled to come to terms with his mysterious condition. Not only is he missing a big chunk of his memory, but he is actually a different person, with different tastes in food and a different attitude. For example, he now loves going out, when in the past he didn’t.
“It’s weird because I’m in an old relationship and he’s in a new one,” Ruth said.
Doctors don’t know exactly what triggered Daniel Porter’s severe amnesia, but they suspect that it was a side-effect of emotional stress. He started having stress-induced seizures in January 2020, after losing his job, having to sell his house and some of his possessions, and suffering a slipped disk in his spine. The month they moved in his parents’ home to “get their feet back on the ground”, he started getting these non-epileptic seizures.
“It was like his brain just said it didn’t want to do it anymore and just swiped 20 years of memories,” Daniel’s wife said. “I knew that when people have been through trauma that they can lose their memory of it but I didn’t know it could cause 20 years of memory loss.”
Daniel is currently going to therapy to try and work through the trauma, but no one knows if he will ever get back the 20 years of memories he lost.