The day I lost a lifetime of memories

BBC RADIO 4: Life Changing (28-Apr-2021)

Jane Garvey talks to Charlie Wilson about an extraordinary turning point in his life caused by a stroke: The Day I lost a Lifetime of Memories

Charlie Wilson is a married father of two from Aberdeen, not that he had any recollection of that when he woke up in a hospital bed in June 2008.

Before that day he had lived a very comfortable, sometimes lavish lifestyle. A self-confessed workaholic, he often worked 16-hour days as a self-employed finance director in charge of multi-million-pound deals. That all came to a sudden halt when Charlie, then 44, suffered a massive stroke and woke up with no memory of who he was. He didn’t recognise his wife or his children, in fact every single memory of Charlie’s life up to that point was now gone.

His recovery was a slow and often frustrating process; he not only had to accept what he was being told by others about who he was, but he also had to relearn simple tasks like brushing his teeth or tying his shoelaces. Charlie rarely looks at old photo albums now, it can be frustrating looking back at a life and at people he doesn’t recognise. Those memories will never come back but overall his recovery has been remarkably positive. He’s returned to working in finance, now at the University of Aberdeen.

Over the last 12 years Charlie has learned techniques which help him recall what he’s been told about his earlier life and how to keep hold of the new memories he’s making with his family.

Charlie was given an hour to live following the stroke but now says it’s a blessing to be alive and always looks to the future. Do you have a story about a life-changing moment that you would like to share? You can contact the programme at Lifechanging@bbc.co.uk


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