Author(s): Deborah Wearing
Clive Wearing is one of the most famous, extreme cases of amnesia ever known. In 1985, a virus completely destroyed the memory part of his brain, leaving him trapped in a limbo of the constant present. Since then, every conscious moment for him is as if he has just woken from a ten-year coma, repeated in an endless loop. A brilliant conductor and BBC music producer, Clive was at the height of his success when the illness struck. For seven years he was kept in the general ward in the London hospital where the ambulance first dropped him off, because there was nowhere else for him to go. His wife Deborah campaigned for better conditions, hopelessly searched for a cure, and, in her quest to find answers, founded a national charity. As damaged as Clive was, the musical part of his brain was unaffected, as was his passionate love for Deborah. Finding there was no way to bring Clive back home, Deborah eventually listened to the friends who counselled her to get away, and she fled to America to start her life again. She initiated a divorce, fell for other men, but found it difficult to forget her love for Clive. Then, miraculously, in their transatlantic phone calls she noticed Clive starting to recover some of his memory, and she was pulled back to England. Today, although he still lives in care, they are closer than ever, and they renewed their marriage vows in 2002. This is the story of an extreme condition that is a reminder of what it is to be human. It is a woman's quest to understand, control, and escape from a nightmare. It is also insight into a bond that runs deeper than conscious thought, a love overcoming the most tragic handicap.