MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Imagine waking up tomorrow and a year has passed.
This is what one Alabama man says he faces every day after a suffering a concussion last year. His family says he isn't able to form new memories since the day after the accident.
Clark Flowers' life is often compared to the movie "50 First Dates." Like Drew Barrymore's character, his family says, every night, all memory of the previous day is forgotten. He wakes up thinking it's the day after his accident: Valentine's Day, 2012.
Clark Flowers' family says he used to be the life of the party. He married the love of his life, Brittney, and was making his mark in the culinary world. Clark says he remembers those days.
But after an accident in a restaurant kitchen last year, Clark's family says, his life took an unexpected turn.
It's said time changes things; in Clark's case, his family says, it stopped.
Family: accident had lingering effects
"I was in the freezer trying to get everything prepared for the next day's truck coming in. And while I was in the freezer, I was on a ladder. And as I was on the ladder, I remember the ladder slipping out from underneath me," said Flowers.
His wife says Clark spent one day in the hospital and was sent home with a neck brace and a concussion. Soon after the accident, Brittney says Clark's memory began to fade.
"He is not able to form any new memory from the day after his accident. He can remember going to sleep the night of February 13, 2012, but after that he is not able to form any new memory and recall that memory, as of right now," said Brittney Flowers.
Every morning now, Brittney gets up before Clark and asks him the same question when he awakens.
"I remember her waking me up this morning and she said 'What day is it?' I tell her, Valentine's Day," said Clark.
Brittney said she explains what happened. She tells him the date, the changes in their family and in their home. She does her best to fill him in on the year.
He says he doesn't remember.
"No way. This is not real. This is a dream. This is impossible. It's unbelievable," said Clark. "I don't understand why I am going through this, by any means. I'm not going to tell you it's not frustrating."
Brittney says, after a little bit of adjusting every morning, reality eventually sets in for Clark. He recalled what he remembered about the morning of our interview.
"As I started to wake up a little bit more and looked around the room and saw that we were in a new home, in a new environment, I started to realize a lot more of, wow, this is real. It's indescribable," said Clark.
Brittney says her husband prepares for the next day by writing himself an email about the last 24 hours.
"I see on paper all this is here. Apparently I have this email that I am writing to myself. But just like when I look into a picture I see myself there, but I don't remember being there," said Clark.
He says he doesn't remember writing the messages.
An uncommon occurrence, but not hopeless
How is this possible? The memories most of us can so easily recall, seem to be out of reach for Clark.
The University of South Alabama's Chair of Neurosurgery, Dr. Anthony Martino, who has no connection to the case, says about 25 percent of people suffer from amnesia after a concussion.
"They all entail a loss of consciousness. And they can have symptoms that resolve quite quickly and symptoms that persist," said Martino.
Martino said persistent anterograde amnesia, which is what Clark apparently has, is rare.
"He is not able to store it. So he makes an imprint of it but then there is no place to put it," said Martino.
Martino says it's not likely Clark will be able to remember the past year. However, he may one day begin to create new memories.
"The improvement occurs over, roughly a 12-month period of time so he still has a small window of opportunity to improve," said Martino.
"She is my rock"
Clark listened in on how his wife manages his condition from our interview the previous day. He is in awe of his wife's strength.
"She is the epitome of in sickness and in health. She is my rock. She is my absolute hero," said Flowers.
Brittney said Clark's memory loss is teaching them both one of life's greatest lessons.
"A lot of people strive to live in the moment. This is a way that forces us to live in the moment. Clark can't remember yesterday. He can't remember the past year. So we can't worry about tomorrow. We just try to live for today," she said.
In the meantime, the couple has faith that Clark will one day remember.
Court case possible
Clark's case is currently in litigation.
The family attorney said : "There is a workers' compensation lawsuit pending. The suit was brought by his employer to determine whether they are responsible for medical treatment and other workers' compensation benefits related to the fall," said Law Office of Stevan Goozee, P.C.
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