Amnesia Bob was wheeled back to his cubicle after his CT scan.
"How are you feeling?" I asked.
"OK. Did I fall?"
"Read your list."
"OK.....Had a fall......won't scar..."
"Do you recognise me at all?"
Shit! No improvement. I reviewed the scan, his brain looked normal, no bleeding or masses. I would wait for the radiologist's report. He could have always been like this? HIV-encephalopathy? Neurosyphilis? I went back to ask him a few more questions.
"Do you have any family we can phone, try to find out what happened?"SHIT!
"I live alone and my family is in Belgium. We don't have much contact."
"Any friends here?"
"I can't remember."
"Do you remember any important phone numbers?"
"No. Where am I?"
"List!" I answered abruptly as I walked out.
No family or friends to get a baseline history from. I looked at the scan report - NORMAL. Double SHIT! What was I going to do with him now? I couldn't refer him to any speciality. There was nothing clinically wrong with him, except for this bizarre amnesia. The medics would laugh at me. The neurologists would slam down the phone.
Not being able to refer him, meant discharge. But I couldn't send him home! He couldn't remember a damn thing. I decided to admit him overnight to the Short Stay Ward, we could figure out what to do with him in the morning.
I accompanied him to the ward for a hand over. I felt protective over Amnesia Bob. I didn't want to leave him in the hands of someone else.
I went back to work and after a few hours, my shift finally ended. I decided to pop in and see how Bob was doing.
"Hi. How are you feeling?"His hand moved towards his mouth, confused.
"OK, I guess."
"I stitched your lip."
"Its on the list," I added.As he reread his list, I slipped away.
Two days later, I returned for another locum shift. I had been thinking of Amnesia Bob after that night, but as with all patients, I had forgotten about him and gotten on with daily life. I was curious as to what had happened to him. I went to the Short Stay Ward, to see what I could find out. I asked one of the nurses, but she hadn't been on duty when he was discharged. The doctor there couldn't remember him, until I started to describe him.
"Mid forties, laceration on his lip, remembers nothing, has a list with numbers and points on it......"Amnesia Bob had remembered. Yay for Bob!
"Oh yes. That list was life-saving!"
"I wrote it for him."
"He was discharged yesterday."
"Was he OK?"
"Yes. in the morning everything came back to him. He was assaulted by a gang as he was taking out the recycling."
"Explains the wellies."
"Never mind. Anyway, thanks."