Man With Amnesia Lost 46 Years in Workplace Slip

Man With Amnesia Lost 46 Years in Workplace Slip

The videos and photographs show scenes from a full and prosperous life: A couple getting married, raising kids, celebrating the holidays and taking family vacations.

They're precious memories. But the man who lived them cannot remember them -- any of them.

In fact Scott Bolzan has no memory of any part of his life story. It's all been erased.

The Man Who Forgot Everything
The Man Who Forgot Everything

"These are things I know I should remember," said Bolzan, 47. "My first date, my first kiss with my wife, our wedding day, the birth of my children -- all of those memories that everyone else in the whole world shares. ... These are things I know I should remember ... I have no emotional attachment to these days even when I look at the pictures."

Bolzan has an extreme case of severe retrograde amnesia. He slipped in the men's restroom of his office building and hit his head on the ground. He can remember nothing that happened prior to the accident. Over the past 16 months, he has had to re-meet family and friends, while embarking on a journey to re-learn his life story and re-build a sense of self-identity.

Amnesia: Reclaiming A Lost Life
Amnesia: Reclaiming A Lost Life

"The best word I can use to describe it is just being lost," said Bolzan. "Because I lost who I am."

"Nightline" followed Bolzan and his family over several months in Phoenix to document some of the amnesiac's "first" experiences as he struggled to make sense of his former life.

Bolzan's wife, Joan, 47, has organized their family photos in chronological order. Boxes and boxes of hundreds of snapshots cover an entire table.

"It's hard to think it's not there," Joan Bolzan said. "You just keep thinking that something, something will trigger it."

Paging Through Photos, Trying to Remember

Each day, the couple chooses a pile of photos to review. Photos of a birthday party they threw for their daughter, Taylor. The tree where he proposed to her when they were college sweethearts at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb.

"This is the tree in the park at Northern by the lake," said Joan.

"Oh, that's the tree?" Scott replied.

"That's the tree!"

"Get out! So that's where it all started."

"That's it."

Joan does this in the hope something will spark some memory of who Scott was.

"I just try to take a little chunk at a time, in little pieces," she said.

Joan Bolzan acknowledged that living with her husband's memory loss sometimes leaves her at a loss.

"It's pretty overwhelming to think that all that happened and he doesn't know any of it..." she said. "That's what life's all about, creating memories, I guess."

Amnesia From a Bathroom Slip

Forty-six years of memories disappeared, seemingly in an instant.

Sixteen months ago, Bolzan was in the middle of his usual morning routine at work at Legendary Jets, a jet management company where he was CEO. On his way to get coffee, he stopped in the men's restroom, and it was there that he slipped on what he thinks was a puddle of cleaning oil.

"I remember my feet going above my head," said Bolzan. "That's the last actual memory that I can recall."

Bolzan awoke in the hospital.

"He kept repeating what had happened, saying 'It was oily, it was slippery, I couldn't get up,'" said Joan.

Scott said a beautiful woman was standing over him.

"I didn't know who anybody was compared to a hospital employee, all I knew is that she was different," he said. Only later did he learn that she was his wife of more than 25 years.

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