The Inspiring Story of the 45-y-o Woman Who Had Her Brain Completely Erased at Age 22


When Su Meck got hit with a ceiling fan and woke up one week later with a total memory loss, her husband Jim thought “she was Su 2.0. She had rebooted.”

Back then, she was 22. The Washington Post reports that the accident erased all her memory, reverting her brain to that of a 4-year-old child. She couldn’t read. She couldn’t do anything by herself. Nothing. Except a few phrases, her brain was a tabula rasa. She had to restart her life—a life with two baby sons—learning everything from the start.

Now she’s 45. Two decades later, the woman whose brain was full of cracks “like shaken Jell-O”—as doctors described it—has earned a music degree from Montgomery College with a 3.9 GPA.

Imagine that, waking up one day being a complete different person with no recollection whatsoever of who you were just one week ago, with a husband you couldn’t recognize and two kids who weren’t really yours, even if biologically they were. It sounds like the setting for a Julia Roberts film, but back then it felt like total confusion for Su:

I always wondered: What am I supposed to do now? What is the plan? What is the goal? Am I supposed to be this other person who I was, or am I supposed to be this new person?

In addition to those philosophical and emotional implications—how can you fall in love again with a husband you don’t know? How can you love the children that you don’t recognize as yours?—Su had to deal with the day to day, learning everything from the start.

There was nothing to build on, but she slowly got back on track. She learned to eat by herself again. To dress up, to make phone calls—she couldn’t bear to talk on the phone for the first few years after the accident—to ride a bicycle, to read and write. Everything was hard for her, including the writing, as one of her emails to her mom shows:

The boys play good with Legos now so givs me a chance to rite. I hav to go to mor doctors be case fall lots to hitig head bad head ackes.

But she finally did it. She even learned to drive, even while her kids had to remember where she parked for her. And finally, she got her music degree after four years of studying hard, reading things again and again to keep them in her memory. Now, Su drums to songs of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, and she is planning to get a bachelor’s degree at Smith College in Massachusetts.

Well, Su Meck 2.0, kudos to you. You have our deepest admiration, rocker girl. Here’s some favorite Floyd to honor your amazing spirit and fantastic voyage. [For a lot more of Su’s fascinating story, check out the original reporting at the Washington Post]

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