Let me begin by saying the baby is fine. Wasn’t even hurt.
I thought I’d start off with that because I didn’t want to deter anyone from reading this amazing story.
It reads like the plot of a movie starring Angelina Jolie. But it really happened.
Back in 1988 when Su Meck was just 22 years-old, she picked up her then-6-month-old son, Patrick, and playfully held him in the air. His back hit a low ceiling fan in the kitchen. The fan came out of the ceiling and hit Meck in the temple. She handed Patrick to her husband, Jim, and then collapsed on the floor.
“The way they described it was that the blow struck her temple,’’ Jim told the TODAY show on Monday. “Her brain struck the front of her skull and then bounced off the back in a classic, at that time, traumatic brain injury. It was shearing brain tissue. They described it as if you have a bowl full of Jell-O you take out of the fridge and you shake it… That’s what she had in her head.’’
The accident caused Su to forget everything. Her sons, her husband, everything. While her baby, Patrick, barely had a scratch on him, Su Meck had advanced retrograde amnesia. It’s often called Hollywood amnesia because it rarely happens outside the movies and soap operas. Su was in a coma for a week, and doctors told Jim to bring the couple’s children to the hospital because she may die soon.
She didn’t. But when she woke up from the coma Su had reverted to the mental condition of a toddler. She basically had to begin her life over again at the age of 22 years-old. Su persevered, relearning how to walk, talk, read, write and drive. She also decided she didn’t want to be a stay-at-home-mom anymore. “It was very confusing to me because everybody was telling me who I was before, and that wasn’t who I am now. It was almost like I’m a different person,’’ Su said on the TODAY show. “There’s more to being a wife and mother than just being a wife and mother; you have to be your own person, too.”
As TODAY reports, they journey to becoming her own person has been long and painful. It took Su years to be able to walk out of a shopping center and remember where she parked, she’d always forget where she put things at home and stared blankly at a photo album her mother put together from her childhood. She couldn’t remember anything.
Su discovered that education was the key to assuaging her confusion and fear. First she volunteered at the school library, learning along with her children. In 2007, she enrolled at Montgomery College, starting with classes in remedial math. She also got lots of help from her children, who were, by then, in college themselves.
Su went from having been reduced to the mental capacity of a young child to graduating from Montgomery College with honors in May, earning an associate degree. Her husband, Jim, said Su is much kinder now and he’s grateful to able to have a new life with someone who originally didn’t recognize him or their sons.
The couple eventually had another child, Kassidy, who is now 18 and is the only child whose birth Su can remember.
Now, Su’s headed to Smith College in Massachusetts where she hopes to earn a 4 year degree.
Isn’t that an unbelievable story? I cannot even begin to imagine how insane it would be to wake up and remember NOTHING. You’re this mom and wife and yet you don’t know the people who need you. Su’s husband says he was more like her caretaker than husband for many, many years. “I was her caretaker,’’ he told TODAY. “I was more a big brother, and you don’t kiss your big brother.’’
The other amazing aspect of this story, at least for me, is the fact that she’s an entirely different human being. Where once she was a stay-at-home-mom, now her passion lies in education. “I was a parent, I was a wife,’’ she said. “I didn’t have anything by myself.’’
Check out Su’s story on TODAY below:
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