Windsor woman feels 'robbed of last ten years' due to rare condition affecting memory

  • Watch: ITV Meridian's Grace Williams speaks to Morag Blandford about her battle with Encephalitis.

A woman from Windsor says she has lost all independence because of a rare brain condition that has left her with no short-term memory.

Morag Blandford was diagnosed with Encephalitis, a rare condition where the brain becomes inflamed, four years ago.

It can be caused by a viral infection, or by a person's own immune system attacking the brain.

Morag became unwell at the end of 2019, leaving doctors convinced she was suffering with epilepsy. She was diagnosed a few months later, but said it left her scared for her future.

"It was really strange as I'd never heard of it," Morag said.

  • Morag Blandford says her condition has left her 'house-bound.'

"I was told that my immune system had attacked my own brain, thinking it was a virus. I was scared when I was told what the effects of this could potentially be, most of all my memory.

"My loss of memory - my memory was always one of my greatest assets. So it was really hard to deal with, especially because it was something unknown."

Morag begins each morning by writing down what she did the day before, as she says it's the only way she can remember.

She keeps folders full of memories in her kitchen so she can look back at the last four years since she was diagnosed with Encephalitis.

Morag Blandford keeps folders of her memories from the last four years. Credit: ITV Meridian

Morag says people need to be aware that more kindness is needed for those around us with the condition.

"We may not have broken arms or legs or a disability that we can physically see - but there could be something going on inside their head that we can't see.

"If we give someone a bit of breathing space, it relaxes them more as well and it makes them feel better."

Dr Ava Easton, Chief Executive of the Encephalitis Society said: "There can be a lot of loss associated with traumatic illness and so, you know, loss of people's employment, their occupation, difficulties returning to education, perhaps loss of people's marriage for example.

"Generally struggling with life on a day to day basis in some cases."

  • Dr Ava Easton, Chief Executive of the Encephalitis Society

A new survey has found that more than 37% of Encephalitis survivors of the illness said they have thought about ending their life.

According to the Encephalitis Society there are up to 6,000 cases in the UK each year and potentially hundreds of thousands worldwide.

Symptoms of Encephalitis according to the Encephalitis Society:

Infectious encephalitis usually begins with a ‘flu-like illness’ or headache. Typically more serious symptoms follow hours to days, or sometimes weeks later.

The most serious finding is an alteration in the level of consciousness. This can range from mild confusion or drowsiness, to loss of consciousness and coma.

Other symptoms include a high temperature, seizures (fits), aversion to bright lights, inability to speak or control movement, sensory changes, neck stiffness or uncharacteristic behaviour.

Autoimmune encephalitis often has a longer onset.

Symptoms will vary depending on the type of encephalitis related antibody but may include: confusion, altered personality or behaviour, psychosis, movement disorders, seizures, hallucinations, memory loss, or sleep disturbances.

For support you can visit the Encephalitis Society.

Call support line on 01653 699599

Or you can fill out an online form

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