Dina (un_sedentary) wrote in little_details,

Amnesia, coma, and recovery

Setting: present day USA
Main character: female, approximately 30, otherwise healthy and active.
Prior searches: I've looked up several types of amnesia on Wikipedia, "retrograde amnesia" and "retrograde amnesia and recovery" on Google, as well as what posts I could find on the subject in this community. I also followed the links from this post which was helpful.

The character in question undergoes brain surgery for a benign brain tumour, and is in a coma for a few days (3-4?) due to complications. When she wakes up, she can't remember the people she has previously seen on a daily basis or the most recent years of her life.

I'd like her to slowly regain her memory, piece by piece, and to have recovered completely by the end of four or five months.

1. I'd like her to remember her childhood, up to age 20 or so, but nothing specific after that except her professional identity, as she's well-known in her field (her job is lab-based). Is this realistic? (I know she probably won't be allowed to pop right back into the lab and get back to work, but her frustration over not being allowed to do her job is a factor in the story.) (To be clear, I know about the differences between episodic and semantic memory. I need her to remember her profession, and that she is well-respected in her field, as opposed to just remember how to do her job.)

2. Is it realistic that such a severe TBI that wouldn't leave any long term physical effects?

3. Is a complete recovery realistic after months of memory loss?

4. What other symptoms may correspond to this type of brain injury? I know sleep patterns can suffer, for example, so could she find herself struggling with insomnia for a while?

5. Also, when would she be allowed to get back to work? Would she need to be cleared by a neurologist, or psychiatrist, or both? Assume that she is functioning well independently and doesn't experience complications.

6. How long would she be kept in hospital? Would she be required to stay with family/have a friend stay with her, and for how long?

Thank you for any help/insight!
Tags: ~medicine: injuries: head injuries, ~psychology & psychiatry: amnesia

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