Mum branded the ‘real life 50 First Dates’ after losing her memory and forgetting her partner
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Featured Image Credit: TikTok/pillay.nesh
A mum has said she is 'grateful to be alive' after suffering severe memory loss, which left her unable to remember even her partner and young daughter.
Nesh Pillay, 32, was involved in a car accident in South Africa at the age of nine, sustaining a head injury that led to regular concussions.
While the injury was fixed by a plastic surgeon, over the years she has found that any bump to the head often end in concussion – including in October last year, when a bang left her forgetting that she not only had a partner, but also a six-year-old daughter.
Speaking to Newsweek, she said: "At the time, not a lot was known about traumatic brain injuries. But over the years I've had quite a few concussions and as time goes on, it takes less and less of a bump for you to get a concussion – and every time my symptoms are worse and worse."
Pillay, a former journalist, said the bump last year came as a surprise to her and her family, saying she told others she had hurt her head, but doesn’t remember what happened.
"My neurologist thinks I probably had some sort of minor bump, and that I may have had some seizures following that,” she said.
She started feeling unwell and went to take a nap, but woke up ‘very confused’.
"Then over the course of a couple of hours, I lost my memory,” Pillay, who lives in Toronto, continued.
“By that evening I didn't know who my partner was, I didn't know much about my daughter. That's so difficult."
She said she was in a state of constant ‘panic’, admitting she simply doesn’t remember the two months that followed.
Her partner took time off work to be by her side, but she couldn’t recall who he was – at one point mistaking him for an Uber driver, with a TikTok video showing the moment he reassured her he was her boyfriend, only for Pillay to suddenly freak out about what her mother would say.
Pillay also has a daughter from a previous relationship, who was initially kept away from her.
"It was interesting because while I didn't always remember how to be a parent to her, so many of the emotions were still there," she said.
"I always felt very protective of her, and I knew I loved her."
Pillay now turns to TikTok to help raise awareness of her condition and share the journey towards ‘healing her brain’.
Her story has been described as a ‘real-life 50 First Dates’ by social media users, in reference to the Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler movie, while others have also been reminded of 2012’s The Vow.
"I didn't expect the reaction," Pillay said.
"When these things are happening to you, you don't think of them as a big deal, you're not making connections to the movies."
Doctors remain unsure about what causes her memory loss, with one hospital telling her it could be a result of her concussions and that she would be ‘fine in a couple of days’.
"Women in general are not believed when it comes to their symptoms," she went on.
"Women of color are especially not believed. The doctor was hellbent on tying it to a psychiatric issue. I was there for three days and saw a medical doctor for maybe 15 minutes."
Pillay was assessed by five psychiatrists who determined the issue was not psychiatric, and she was eventually seen by a neurologist.
"He said the thing that I think a lot of doctors are afraid to say which is, 'I don't know'," she said.
"It was nice to hear that, because at least I wasn't being gaslit."
Pillay added: “I'm so grateful to be alive. So many people die from head injuries and don't get any memory back. So I'm just really looking at the bright side here."