Personal Views

Desert brainstorm

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: (Published 08 June 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:1485

If we had been just 200m the other way down the track it would never have happened. It is strange to think how luck and coincidence—or perhaps fate—mysteriously exert their actions on the unsuspecting. In the end it was probably chance which dictated that I should be tired and walking unaware down a rocky path in the Sinai Desert when a runaway horse bolted towards me. In the minute or so that it took to descend on us I was hit and tossed into the air, trampled on, and landed forehead first on the stony ground.

A tidal wave of dramatic events subsequently washed me up in a neurological ward in Israel, diagnosed with deep frontal lobe contusions. These illustrated a range of frontal lobe phenomena including confabulation, disinhibition, and complete lack of insight, together with concentration and memory loss. The memory loss lasted six weeks and is all the more bewildering because after the initial period of unconsciousness I was apparently physically functional and was presumably in some sort of fugue. I regressed into a childlike state. The question of my age baffled me profoundly. “Am I 9?” I asked. Somewhere in the depths of my memory are strange, …

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