A Journey to Remember: Regaining Memory After Trauma

ABC News' Gillian Mohney meets Angela Leigh Tucker, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and had to use her diaries to regain her memory.
26:07 | 06/14/16

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Transcript for A Journey to Remember: Regaining Memory After Trauma
At this is silly in that area and digital health reporter for ABC news today we're talking about memory and forgetting your memory. We're here and Angela Lee Tucker she was an automatic car accident and daddy here's brain injury. And she ended up forgetting the year her life or just here to talk about her experience and why the plane fare in the years since. Angela thank you so much for coming thank you never hang on here about it. Note Tony see you in car accident to me. These years and had a very serious traumatic brain injury but I want you told me a little bit about your life before the accident when he did. What are scheduled flight. I see that Angelo one died on July 31 2008. And Angela too is when that same night. Into one and two are very different people into the one was the vice president of the PR firm had just been promoted to partner. Into the two has a traumatic brain injury. Gets lost from the subway occasionally sleep more but understand these two versions of myself allows me to not. Try to fit into the issues that they Angelo one B two stealth it anymore. Soon to. Like it's very different and party forgot your question that was it. No. You. Here. And it was often. I moved to New York City after I graduated college in Ireland of Florida. I'm prayers for friends and Orlando. And a serve or hit hunter public relations and the best consumer food. Gary agency out there and began as a zero account executive. Than crude as it assists and account executive and and account executives. And senior account executive. Senior account manager and a vice president. And by thirty years although the picket kind. It's a little bit about your husband. On on that night rich and I were driving home from a yankees baseball game. And we were struck by an eighteen Wheeler that came across the concrete divide dock connector of the concrete side and and rich was killed in the crash. He is an amazing amazing man. We. Were only married for years actually during the coma we wouldn't sign read our first wedding anniversary. So doctors have explained to me. That at the time of a traumatic brain injury a year before the accident in the year after creates a two year amnesia Quinn. And I mine our call what happened I got married and went. I've seen beautiful. Wedding albums where the bride's got rock and hair and their grooms got a handsome suit on. But it's as if I'm looking at somebody else's wedding. Other people tell me their memories of the wedding but it doesn't necessarily unlock a memory for me. He was incredible man good musicians. He was that the vice president of can be called best judgment rentals. And. And. Normally that's been here before it. Yeah at. I feel like it's divine intelligence network. Preventing me from being able or call too much about rich. I think that it would have been very difficult to read learn how to walk talk read in Wright's if I had a broken heart. So some of those memory most of those members are still not accessible I've been affirming and praying that they come and that when they do I'm strong enough. When I went to my husband's great for the first time in New Jersey and left him a letter. Telling him that I'm scared for the memories that were coming it and then I'm grateful for his guidance that I really feel he's occurred in the Angel. Injuries. Specifically. And asthma to you can. Remember I don't remember if I had it written down and they get there extensive. This region a note. If in kind principal. When you're in a coma after the accident Frankfurt I kinda six weeks beauty now. I was so I had a left frontal hemorrhage a right. Prior look contusion. A bilateral sudden Iraq for a hemorrhage. By frontal he hemorrhagic contusion. Intra ventricular hammonds left ops typical conned out fracture SE one fracture. That's the doozy that's Christopher Reeves had a C one fracture. Left scat good fracture. Left ribs fractured 12 in 33. Nerve palsy. And. I was a class go coma scale of three. Night doctored an amazing actor planning and explain that the class can scale starts at three and at fifteen. And that's three was I was least likely to survive. And I had to re learn. Everything from the cradle on how to walk talk read write adequately and at about my checkbook but. Benefit restraint that Brady act than either but. If the suits me a little bit about what it was like when you. Are coming out of that coma I don't know. How much you remember art. What's going on your mind when here you're coming out of it and I know what's on the street wake up in your eyes over great that I because tonight on the TV wearing Simmons. There are deep in sleep and then there alert for me it took a process of a weaker suit to come out of Tacoma. I would come out an in home and. The there're a lot of visitors and great for there a lot of folks visiting and a I don't really where caller I remember there being a lot of people in the room I was on rotating bed. Chemistry kind of dancing to keep the vertebrae. A fabled. So. One moment that I remember quite clearly is. Well first I asked where's rich. Man where's my best friend and my dad is a silly redneck from Alabama. Got really serious since Saddam put in my bed and said Angela. Ostrich he was in the car and we lost him. And in that moment I realize. That's why my best friend is here. My first question why it was Moses in the car. Moses was my little sisters York's haired terrier. And my husband Matt my mother my then boyfriend met my mother for the first time at my little sister's funeral. And we came home with her dog. And rich brought Moses to work with them every day so when they just told me my husband's dead my first question was. Whereas in those. And that's that he so cave that upon being taken care of and then real and it's. My husband said it. You remember what you rather. Thinking feelings are still recovering yeah yeah just to have that emotional gap is well. People and there were visiting me in friends and family were all told by the doctors to not tell her about rich until we have evidence that she's retaining information. So apparently I was asking people a lot. Meet sometimes even missed his calling people get mad there was fog that is a bald friend visiting and it I asked for rich. But once I demonstrated that I could retain the information that's where they appreciate me that. And it is sitting you're able to retain it in half scare you could understand it care for re not remembering. So much for tracking terrorists that office. Since you remember after the when you think back to that time. When did you realize you couldn't. Really remember that your report could you rumored rich but he knew he was your husband. And remember the wedding heat. And ice buildup. So my memory is it really like on a timeline. Still currently there are gaps in the timeline as I'm making new memories of for example. Yesterday. Yesterday it was Monday. I can really I have to work at it to piece together what I did that now Ira call. Diana thinking it's. A thing about it. Is insane. When he woke up again you're obviously knew who reached why is he was husband remembered. Some weddings when did you realize that you had those. When people would. Either way right brain very. In. I wrote a lot of journals. And stirring from twelve years old. I told a federal jury during the happiness is having secrets. Can then I am grateful that I was able to re read these journals. For whatever reason. If and memory shared from someone else's perspective. It might not unlock something for me but if it's written in my own handwriting. Then it it's. Unfolds in my memory. So it's been awesome to read go back and read these journals. And I've got a lot of maybe a dozen and I brought it to you here. Yeah. Me he's at the exit. Fee you can. Say is. Yes and severe double vision and and it now is if it's like one half Asian there's one and a half Chilean sitting in front of me. All of which are very attractive. Load. I double vision it's. Eye and know how to make the eyes to use by an adjustment. I can make one of you. It takes a visual therapy to be able attacked. So remind me when you read your journals Wyatt. When did you realize you're journals could help bring back memories. Because at that point you would not have been able surgeries for awhile so would have been further and here conferees when re able to read your trials really. Actually they were in storage. Rich and I had just bought a home and the house everything in the house was put into storage unit. They didn't have access to the journals for some time. So I was drilling during my recovery. Which I can't really read the handwriting is. Doesn't make much sense that is your ailing U and then. It's another night I. Got act fits in probably about five years and I actually don't I had that typically don't read them because they're pretty painful they've got memories of rich. Three. Moment for us. I eight. Don't read then. And so when you win some five years ago as and you got read the journals so tell me what happens when you realized that the journal. Why is it could help unlock some some memories and obviously not all but a couple of them. The example have thank. This is a journal IA. Had I first engineer city. And when I when I read this derivatives. February 15 2000 and to you. He hands me is sweet hot tea just the way and like it before I reach the window. He's known my beverage of choice and probably hundreds of others for as long as I can remember. Being in this daily ritual at purchasing a hot beverage before entering the office. Often I would receive harmless tokens of affection such as a free muffin or don't. Slipped into the back Pete brown paper bag. Recently they took and took a turn for the more daring and straightforward statement to my disbelief a pair of silver hoop earrings signed up for me from the conference at my bag. Despite the fact that they were a bit flashing from my teeth I still could not help that being nuked. That's great so when you rent that. What did you think I remembered exactly stay as Arab emirates on the corner of 26 in Madison avenue. Yes. And that memory before hedges and it was accessible via. So what you realize that some of these and pack. Why did everything from after being mr. I have to read them. When you. I and need to regain injuries at a peace. And that over sat treatment self and overseeing a part of the towns with a traumatic brain injury. It is then reduce filter of being able to. Light sound. At all comes in all the sensory overload so. This means they might have for the journalists and street over limited time. I would sort of hectic pace. Freeman. For example. And I gave myself. At track of what some of my favorite movies where on FaceBook put them on and I've been watching these favorite movies like Connolly either. Let's. Open. Up this road map of Kelly it's like it. Rediscovering sounds. Sad when you when you read those old journals are you able Hugh. Do you recognize that person who burned and it. Yes. Yes one way is a confidence. And meeting touch cocky. And at dancer. Karaoke singer. Entertainer. Event worked for my clients very easy eight Gallo wines so I entertain winemakers and press and so I say I see a lot of that shining through that the journal's. Those memories are alive. I feel lake Angelo one. If you know. And it's not Angela went into I'm I'm. That. But I understand it. It's an enhanced version of me and yes I have. More. Disadvantages. And difficulties. But. I handled them with more grace and I think you financial one good. More understanding and acceptance to you still relate to that version of yourself. And a good question. I don't and nights. Pretty much any more. Because nighttime vision is challenging for me. Plus general fatigue sometimes kicks in says. I picked it had been a lot earlier than Angelo when used it. Current. And when it read when he sent greeting friends and trees and did you read it entries with year old husband of those memories come back to you. Did some of them come back IA regain their journals after it's passed away and he said. I'm marrying needs to. If I may say. This diamond with first cut on my finger in 2006. And my has been around a lot of money from my mom for this spring. And when it passes learned that rich had only paid it off for you here this is your new excesses as my fiance. When he learned that that. Rich only was able to pay this off for a year before he died he asked me what did I think of easing it for our engagement. And finishing the payments to my mom. Towards her retirement. And say it instantaneously turn this ring frowned at painful reminder of what was lost to awesome potential what's to come. Let's agree. Excellent his home a little bit about. When you. We think back to that time that accident. Is there. An entity to how far you've come now how do you think back about that time when you're recovering. When you're going through when your sort of making that transition to this new version of yourself and and then their carver is not done sir I'm always recovery. That's the challenge of a traumatic brain injury and it's not you flat. Cast and in and it's all better after the end. Once you have an injured Brady hit is going to be injured. Some every challenges continue to be. Tough for me focus and attention. Being able to remember the last question. This is stuck in its own. But. I continue to evolve the strategies that I have created. I did. Three years. Outpatient therapy and my evening gun. I'm caught may have remediation and I consider that sort of teaching you how to reuse your brain. Thing that I took for granted at one time are just more challenging now. Asked me Christine again no that was Canada and. And fellas they could answer to the questioning totally got it. But to sign a little bit about when you read the journals. With here click here late husband's. What memories came back from that time from that year that you're married to members. They years. That I was married. C and that's what's so interesting is that. At the time of the crash I was planning a major event. For redwood creek wines and I was supposed to be flying to. You talk Salt Lake City the next day for the outdoor retailer trade Chad and wind hiding come to work that day. And didn't make any phone calls they the hunters started to call myself on my husband's. Thing called riches employer. And riches employers that average incomes or today. Sit through there. Investigative research online newspapers they found me they called hospitals and and were able to piece together and I was that Westchester medical center. It I think it. When springer talk about Mac project so. Yet to tell a little bit about. When you something. When you were her. What it when you what do you do now to help cope an easier showed me all of your alarms me a little bit about. What you do every day and I hope your mind remember things went astray that went strategy that I use. Is that that iPhone alarms. So all day alone. It's going off. This in their day was on there. Vitamins is on there is he. Adding people to the as C agenda. So one of the things that I do now I'm so grateful for is on the chairwoman of the New York City chapter of the brain injury association in New York State. We call ourselves buyout BI AN YC. And it's been a real honor to be able to. Serve in this leadership role to we've got incredible group Eric. People that's how it strokes. And toxic injuries. Traumatic brain injuries people who fall. Where about fifty or sixty folks who come together once a month. And we're coming together and it's what he says he hybrids. Fundraising lot. Per march on for brain injury. More pilots say they think Angela leave Tucker dot com. Katic ensue when you. You know when you think back to. To what it was light at the beginning. You think at the beginning right after the accident do you think that you could have seen how happy you could be an island and how far you know now. I would not have known. Davis says it's really cloudy really really hazy. A I did a lot of therapy and my bonus mom Mary while. Told me that my full time job is now healing. And so I a and I treated as they fulltime job. It was exhausting. I was sleeping a lot to let the brain heal. So's sleeping. 1012 hours a day may be more. Napping and not doing a whole lot other than recovery and therapies. So to get to where I am now. As the chairwoman of the New York City chapter. I serve on the board of directors for be honest. To be able to give back in this way is so rewarding and empowering and I eight. I'm happy to helping Kurds those that are on their healing journeys whatever that journey may be. Two to continue walking that sometimes there's a valleys of shadows. That. Personal pitch a tent there he keep moving. And one of the things that has been incredibly important in this healing journey is my spiritual center unity of New York. And taking the classes the workshops retreats have been so vitally important to helping you refrain. This existence of a disability. And being much more accepting. Who I am now. Do you get frustrated. Buying. Some limitations that you have now. The question. Action. I've sometimes been accused of being a Pollyanna. Of them very positive. If pressured to. I. I just don't think all of I think that selective amnesia. Anything really sad. I have difficulty recalling. That positive memories except ready tend to be easier so Aaron. I. That's also the another important memory that I had in the hospital when my my silly redneck that sat down at the foot of the bed. At that permanent I said. I have a little sister. And she died in a car accident. I cannot let my mother and father buried there only other living child from a car accident and I think that in that moment. Dana became the guardian Angel with rich that I needed to inspire me to believe that wheelchair to. Leave the hospital bad. So if such a positive. Person. Seizing it fit where you always so positive we always able to hold onto that opportunity I think so I think Angelo one was pretty positive. Friends here in new. Knew me then say that. You're its it's on it thinking you're you're there. Sarah yes. I just don't think that patent this Maurer. It's patently difficulties that they yeah. So why is and that will take you. So much for coming. In and very with us they appreciate your time and endured great and you answered questions than it. Think the money by day the company and I am sick. And civilian many of anything that's important thing.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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