Real life 50 First Dates: woman with rare neurological disorder makes scrapbook to fall in love with her boyfriend – after forgetting who he is every week
A young woman has made a scrapbook to help her fall in love with her boyfriend all over again – because she forgets who he is every single week.
Jenny Gisby, 20, from Nottingham, who suffers from a rare neurological disorder, often wakes up in the morning with no memory of her boyfriend, Stuart Balmforth, 20.
In an attempt to jog her memory, Jenny has compiled a scrapbook full of photographs and mementos from the pairs three year relationship.
Whenever her memory loss occurs, Stuart will show her the treasured scrapbook, in the hope that it remind her of their romance – just like in the movie, “50 First Dates”.
Jenny’s memory loss is due to functional neurological disorder – a condition that causes seizures which wipe her memories.
She is now learning to cope with the condition, and is sharing her story to help others in a similar position.
Jenny said: “It all started when I collapsed at work, my manager called for an ambulance and I ended up being in a coma for a few days.
“I was soon diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder and that’s when my memory loss started.
“I will wake up after being asleep all night with no memory of who I am or my boyfriend and parents.
“I decided to make a scrapbook when I realised how distressing it must be for them trying to explain who they were.
“I feel so angry at first as I think everyone around me is a complete stranger.
“It is terrifying when I wake up with no memory and it takes half an hour before I begin to remember again, my photo album definitely helps speed it all up.
“But once I remember it is lovely being able to witness all mine and Stuart’s memories again, it’s like I’m falling in love with him all over again.”
Jenny woke up from her coma in November unable to walk after suffering a severe seizure while working at Sainsbury’s – she had suffered paralysis as a result of her rare brain condition.
She added: “I was a student at Nottingham Trent University and I had to give that up as I knew I couldn’t keep up with the work load while coming to terms with needing a wheelchair.
“I have also been diagnosed with epilepsy and I have two big seizures every week which along with my FND is what causes my memory loss.
“I am so lucky to have my boyfriend, Stuart, at my side as he has been so supportive throughout and will go through the memory album with me to help me remember.”
Jenny is also supported by her parents, Jane and Rob, who have helped her every step of the way.
She said: “I couldn’t ask for more support from my family and boyfriend, they have all been amazing and I rely on them so much now.
“It is unlikely that I will get the feeling back in my legs but I’m slowly coming to terms with it and I’m currently trying to raise money so I can buy a lightweight wheelchair.”
Doctors believe Jenny has suffered from Functional Neurological Disorder since she was 10.
She added: “When I was younger I had terrible balance and I was always dislocating my joints but it has only just showed itself after I came out of my coma unable to walk at all.
“It can get worse with age or it could improve but doctors have ruled out it improving for me after looking at my brain scans.”
Jenny has filed her memory scrapbook with photographs, train tickets and festival memories in a bid to help her remember her life – Stuart has also added in a few little things too so he can show her the relationship they’ve had.
Stuart, a student, said: “It’s nice to keep updating Jenny’s book with the places we’ve visited together.
“It’s so handy to show her when she wakes up with no idea who I am, without the book it would take much longer for Jenny to remember and it would leave her feeling even more frustrated.
“It was a great idea of Jenny’s and we use it every week to ensure she never forgets what we’ve done together.”