Someone You Should Know: Experiencing, But Not Remembering

Epileptic episode causes memory loss for a 21-year-old Dell Rapids woman

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A University of Sioux Falls student is getting back on her feet after an epileptic episode changed her life forever.

“I don’t really recall everything that happened, but I was really sick,” says Savannah Green.

The incident happened nearly two years ago.

“When we walked in and found her, she was pretty much delirious,” says her mom, Renae Green.

Renae says her daughter caught the stomach flu, and even though her medication controls her epilepsy, the process likely caused her to throw it up.

“It was like three days without any medication,” says Savannah, and that triggered multiple seizures.

After going to the emergency room, Savannah suffered some short term memory loss.

“I’d ask her questions about last week or last month and nothing was there,” says Renae. “We didn’t know if we we’re going to get her back.”

“The doctors told me that my brain went into survival mode to keep my body going and they wiped the memories away,” says Savannah.

Savannah was in a dream state for about a week.

When she started to regain her short term memory, she quickly realized some things were left black.

“I didn’t remember my brother was deployed, I didn’t remember where my sister worked, I didn’t even remember what I was majoring in school,” she says.

In total, Savannah has about 5 years of spotty memory, from freshman year in high school to freshman year of college, forgetting some significant life events like college move in day.

“It was so emotional and it was like ‘good luck honey, you’re on your way to adulthood’ and all that’s gone,” says Renae.

But for the mom, realizing her daughter doesn’t have those same precious memories hasn’t been the toughest part.

“The heart ache of watching her have to deal with people who don’t understand, that was hard,” she says. “If it was hard for the doctors to understand, if it was hard for me and my husband to understand, then of course for a teenager- there were some that thought she was doing it for attention.”

“The thing that has helped me the most is my family and friends,” says Savannah. “The friends that actually understand and have been supportive, and all my family has been helpful.”

Now, Savannah is back at school for her junior year.

Studying has become more challenging.

“I have to read it and hear it, both audibly and visually, that way I’ll be able to grasp it a little bit better,” she says.

But overall, she has a new perspective on life.

“Memories now for me are so big,” says Savannah. “Even the bad ones, something bad might happen, but I’ll remember it!”

And she wants others who are suffering with a memory disorder to know they’re not alone.

“It’s just one of those things that you have to cope with,” she says.

Even if that means smiling and nodding through.

“We put on a face, we’re like ‘yeah, I totally remember that time we did that’, in actuality, we’re just telling you what you want to hear because we don’t want you to worry about us,” says Savannah.

The experience helped Savannah connect with her grandfather before he passed away from Alzheimer’s.

“They just had a special bond and it was a gift they could connect in that way,” says Renae.

To prevent something like this from happening again, Savannah’s made a plan to go straight to the hospital for any sickness she comes down with.

Renae Green has published a book called ‘Your Life, A Masterpiece In The Making’ talking about this hard time in her family’s life.

“The book is about how to make sense out of your life and how to put these pieces of the puzzle together,” says Renae. “I didn’t think about memory before, so I wrote a whole chapter on memory and how precious it is; and it is a gift.”

The book can be found on Amazon, ordered though Barnes and Noble, and on the shelf at Crossroads.

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