Memory Loss Mum Uses Smart Phone To Help Care For Her Toddler

14/08/2014 17:02 | Updated 20 May 2015

Mum who lost her memory sets dozens of iPhone reminders to help her care for her toddler

A mum who lost her memory after suffering a life-threatening illness is able to care for her three-year-old daughter again thanks to dozens of daily iPhone reminders.

Lorna Smalley, 37, lost almost two years of her memory after developing encephalitis, which causes inflammation of the brain.

Lorna's memory loss was so severe that during the month she was kept in hospital, she didn't once ask after her daughter Jasmine.

The memory loss left Lorna in such a confused state that she had to ask whether she was Chinese.

Since being released from hospital she has concentrated on returning to work and caring for Jasmine again - which she has managed with the help of iPhone reminders.

"Although I remembered my daughter once she came to visit me in hospital, before that I hadn't questioned why she wasn't there and that's scary," said Lorna.

"Now I'm over the moon that I'm back to being a mum and back to work - even if I need a few reminders here and there!"

To make up for her occasionally unreliable short-term memory, Lorna, from Nottingham, sets up to 10 reminders a day on her phone to prompt her to pack her daughter's nursery bag, go to work on time and to do chores like the washing up and the laundry.

She has also set reminders to jog her memory about every family birthday and her wedding anniversary - although we reckon many of us can relate to that!

Lorna's story started when she woke up feeling unwell one morning in January 2013, and was sent home from work sick.

The next day her husband Mark, 40, popped home to check on her at lunchtime and had her taken into hospital as she was struggling to focus.

Mark came home from the hospital to look after Jasmine, but he was called back just a few hours later to say goodbye, as his wife's condition had rapidly deteriorated and doctors were sure she wouldn't make it through the night.

Mark told The Daily Mail: "'It was awful when she first went into hospital and she was hooked up to machines with tubes to help her breathe and eat. She looked like she was barely alive - I didn't know how that could be."

Despite being in and out of intensive care and spending more than a week in two drug-induced comas, Lorna survived. However, Mark was warned that she could face severe permanent brain damage.

Lorna's doctor believes she had an autoimmune encephalitis and her body started producing anti-bodies, which attacked her brain.

To help her fight the disease, medical staff gave Lorna a plasma exchange - a procedure in which the plasma is removed from a patient's blood and replaced with a substitute.

Thankfully the treatment had dramatic results and after just two sessions she was able to sit up and eat a sandwich. But she was left with significant gaps in her memory.

Lorna had no idea why she was in hospital, and she didn't once ask after Jasmine, until Mark brought her in to visit her just before she returned home.

Lorna was discharged a month after being admitted to hospital and despite making a good recovery, she is still trying to piece together the missing bits of her memory.

As well as her daily iPhone reminders, Lorna has begun writing a diary to document everything she has re-learned, and to try and make sure she doesn't forget anything again.

She has been looking through her family photo albums to try and fill in the gaps in her memory, and was shocked to discover she had forgotten her way around Nottingham - where she has lived for 18 years.

She has had to grieve twice for a friend, who she forgotten had died.

Psychometric tests have shown Lorna has retained all the necessary information to pick up her work as a practice pharmacist and she is making a gradual return to her job.

"Lorna had always been a list maker but now it's that with bells on!" said Mark. "We're just trying to get back to life that's as normal as possible with the almost constant alarms.

"'When she came out of hospital it wasn't the Lorna that went in, and it was really difficult because she didn't remember much of what we had shared together, but thankfully that's gradually come back and we're a couple like we were."


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