The process of selling my former home and building and moving into a new one turned out to be more stressful than I could have possibly imagined. On Sunday, August 2, I was staying at the Courtyard Marriott in Woodbury, Minnesota. I remember none of the details, but apparently I went to the front desk in my pajamas and robe with my purse and a carry-on bag. I asked the front desk manager for a cup of coffee. When she returned with the coffee, my purse was on the counter, but I was nowhere to be found. After I failed to come back, she contacted the Woodbury Police, who spent the next four hours searching for me.
A Woodbury police officer discovered me at 4:00 a.m. wandering in the street alone and asked, “Are you Kathryn?” I was amazed that he knew my name. He explained that the night manager from the Marriott had placed a call that I was missing. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was experiencing an episode of Transient Global Amnesia (TGA). I was dirty, bruised and bloody, and the officers who hunted for me strongly recommended I seek medical attention. But I refused because I was so focused on moving into my new house later that morning. On the drive back to the hotel, the officers said they were afraid I was walking toward Interstate 94 and might be heading into traffic. Only then did I have an inkling that something very strange had happened to me. Thanks to the Marriott night manager and the officers who looked for me, I’m probably lucky to be alive.
The following day my friend, Debra, took me to Woodwinds Hospital to be examined. I’ve never experienced such a scenario and was genuinely frightened. The ER doctor explained that TGA is often precipitated by extremely stressful life situations and lasts between 12 and 24 hours. For me, it lasted less than 12 hours. The ER staff noted they see people experiencing TGA every couple of months, a fact I found startling. I have no recollection of where I walked in Woodbury, for how long, or where I was when the officer found me. I was a little worse for the wear, but not badly hurt. The doctor said I would probably never recall details of that night.
My story had a happy ending, due in no small part to the care and concern of the Woodbury Police Department. They helped keep me safe, upholding their oath to “protect and serve.” Lately there have been too many instances of police brutality and needless fatalities. I am deeply grateful for the exemplary conduct of the police as well as that of the Marriott Hotel staff. I also recognize how very fortunate I am.
I had actually heard of transient global amnesia in some cheesy TV program or movie – it was used to explain a character’s unusual behavior. I remember thinking it was the most ridiculous condition ever, one that only a writer could make up. Imagine my surprise when I learned that it does in fact exist and I experienced it.
In my thank yous to the Woodbury Police and Marriott, I concluded by noting that I’m a writer and not to be surprised if the incident appears in one of my stories. Those missing hours are as if my brain were a chalkboard that had been wiped clean. Perhaps the truth is I was abducted by aliens, who decided to “throw this one back.” I’m tending to lean toward that theory. But whatever happened, there are the makings of a great story in my experience, proving once again the old adage that life truly is stranger than fiction.