A man in the United Kingdom, known as William, wakes up every day thinking he has a dental appointment. It all started on March 14, 2005. Those of you whom don’t celebrate dental appointments probably felt a shiver go down your spine.
He was serving in the military in Germany when it happened. He had a dental appointment and was injected with an anesthetic before root canal surgery. According to his physician, Dr. Burgess, “He wakes up believing he should still be in the military, stationed abroad. Every day he thinks it is the day of the dental appointment.”
Experts on amnesia are mystified. It most closely resembles anterograde amnesia, which is the loss of the ability to create new memories, but it doesn’t explain everything. They feel a completely new classification is required for his particular case. Though there is no visible brain damage, the current hypothesis is it was caused by a breakdown of the protein synthesis in his brain.
“Williams” daily life is functional, but challenging and emotionally trying. Each morning his wife has him go to the computer. On his computer, the family keeps updated a list of important information and key events he will want to know about.
Unfortunately, his functioning memory can only hold on to 90 minutes at a time. As a result, he has to use an electronic diary that can prompt him with the date and other essential information.
William and his family are brave, and experts are working to find a solution. We can only hope they find one soon. If so, he can finally get past that dental appointment and move on with his life—memories intact.