A couple had to do a real life ’50 First Dates’ and fall in love again after she forgot her entire life — thanks to a nosebleed.
Sophie Clayton, 26, suffered a nosebleed in November 2019 which triggered a rare disorder, disconnecting her brain from her nervous system.
Within minutes she forgot her phone pin code, the date — and then her own name and was rushed to hospital.
And while she was soon on the road to recovery she had no recollection of her boyfriend of two-and-a-half years, Jonathan Wilson, 26.
So just like the movie starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, he set about dating her for the ‘first time’ again.
Besotted Jonathan made her photo albums of the key moments in their relationship, and took her back to the location of special dates.
He took her to the spot in Kew Gardens where he first asked if she’d be his girlfriend and filled in the huge gaps in her memory with cherished moments he remembered.
Sophie from Surrey is slowly getting her life back on track and said she’s falling in love with Jonathan all over again.
Emergency resource dispatcher Sophie said: “My friends have said that our relationship is just like 50 First Dates and I can definitely see the resemblance!
“When everything happened, I felt shocked, confused and sad knowing I had forgotten everything and especially not knowing why.
“My condition is quite rare so they are still doing research into it and it’s really frustrating that they can’t tell me why this happened or what caused it.
“I feel so upset that I’ve lost 26 years of memories that made me the person I am but I’m looking forward to recreating new ones with everyone I love.
“I’m falling back in love with Jonathan all over again which is so lovely.
“Although I am sad that I have forgotten all these things that I’ve done before, it is quite special getting to see things for the first time with Jonathan.
“Just the other day, he took me to see the beach for the ‘first’ time – it was amazing.
“Doctors can’t say if my memory will ever come back, so for now it’s like my life started three months ago, but I’m just focusing on making new memories rather than pining for the old ones.”
Before her nose bleed, Sophie was healthy, enjoyed running regularly and worked in the control room for the London Ambulance Service.
She lived with her parents in Surrey and was getting ready for a night shift on November 6 2019 when she suddenly had a nosebleed.
Sophie said: “I don’t normally have nosebleeds, but I didn’t think it was really anything to worry about.
“My nose had been bleeding for about 15 to 20 minutes and I was waiting in the kitchen with my mum for it to stop when blood suddenly started pouring out of my left eye.
“Mum sat me down on the kitchen floor and my left side went completely weak.
“She phoned for an ambulance as she thought I’d had a stroke and I asked her for my phone so I could ring work and let them know I wouldn’t be coming in.
“Mum gave me my phone and I went to type my PIN in to unlock the screen and I just couldn’t remember the numbers – my mind had gone blank.
“I was still trying to remember when the ambulance arrived a few minutes later and they asked me a few things like what the date was and I couldn’t tell them.
“I couldn’t even remember what my name was when they asked me – it was terrifying.”
Sophie was rushed to St George’s Hospital in London where she was taken for a CT scan and blood tests after the paramedics suspected she’d had a stroke.
When the CT scan ruled it out, doctors feared Sophie had encephalitis – a rare but serious condition which causes inflammation of the brain.
They immediately administered antivirals and antibiotics to combat the condition but a lumbar puncture showed she didn’t have it.
Instead medics discovered she had functional neurological disorder (FND) – a condition where signals between the brain and nervous system are interupted.
FND is most commonly caused by stress or depression, but as Sophie had not been suffering with either, it is likely that she was born with the disorder.
The separation between her brain and nervous system could have happened at any time.
In Sophie’s case, there had been a small amount of pressure on her brain and when the nosebleed released that pressure, it triggered her condition.
It caused her nervous system to partially disconnect from her brain.
The disruption in signals between her nervous system and her brain resulted in left side weakness and devastatingly resulted in Sophie losing all of her long term memory.
Sophie said: “It was like my brain had been wiped clean, I couldn’t remember anything, I had no idea who anybody was, and I didn’t even know my name or how old I was.
“A man came into the hospital to see me and I said ‘I don’t know who he is’ – it turned out to be my dad.
“As mum had been with me all the time, I knew that I must know her but I didn’t recognise that she was my mum.
“Jonathan was the last person I had texted, so I think I knew I had a boyfriend but not who he was exactly – I just kept asking my mum if she’d told ‘that man’ what had happened.
“When he arrived at the ward and my mum introduced us, I instantly started crying because I was so desperate to remember him but I couldn’t.
“Jonathan told me that he loved me and I said that I loved him too, and then he held my hand whilst my dad explained everything the doctors had said so far.
“The past 26 years of my life had just disappeared from my memory.
“I had no recollection of who I was before waking up in the hospital.
“I was in a room full of strangers including myself and it was absolutely terrifying.”
Following her diagnosis, doctors focused on Sophie’s mobility as she stayed in the hospital for another four days for physiotherapy before she was allowed to return home to her parents in a wheelchair.
She is slowly rebuilding her life and is learning to walk again through vigorous occupational therapy and physiotherapy four times a week at a local hospital.
Although Sophie cannot remember anything from her two and a half year relationship with Jonathan, her beloved boyfriend has pulled out all the stops to help her.
From recreating favourite dates to making photo books of memories they shared together, Jonathan has been showing Sophie just how special their relationship has been.
“He and my friends have made books of photos from our times together – I don’t remember being in the photos but it is nice to get a feel of what my life was like before,” she said.
“Jonathan has driven me around London to see all the sights that we had been to together previously and shown me all of the landmarks I had forgotten.
“He took me to the Bath Christmas Market where we had one of our first ever dates and even back to Kew Gardens where he had first asked me to be his girlfriend.
“I’m learning to walk again and I’d love to go back to work one day and return to running, but even just to walk on the beach rather than sit in my wheelchair would be incredible.
“My speech has been affected and I have had to learn small things again like how to write, hold my knife and fork and even how to brush my hair.
“Sometimes I feel like I don’t actually have the condition but then I soon come to the realisation that it’s happened – I have to come to terms with it and hopefully try and help others who are in the same position.”
Jonathan said: “It was absolutely devastating learning what happened to Sophie.
“The feeling of helplessness was definitely present and being unable to help her or do anything was horrendous.
“I was really nervous and anxious driving up to the hospital to see her for the first time.
“The worst moment was when Julie [Sophie’s mum] introduced me to Sophie saying I was her boyfriend.
“That’s when realisation really started to hit home that she had completely lost her memory.
“This has been a challenging time for us both.
“We’ve shared some amazing memories together and Sophie losing her memory means she has completely forgotten everything we’ve done, so it has been lovely reminiscing on our relationship and all the great times we’ve shared together.
“I am just grateful to have Sophie, and grateful that she still has her personality and smile!”