GREENSBORO, N.C. — Caitlin Little was always athletic and precocious.
“Caitlin started walking at 7 months old, running at 8 months old,” remembers her mother Jennifer. “So, Caitlin doesn’t sit around waiting for anything.”
Caitlin was part of Southeast Guilford High School’s cross country program and it was there that everything changed.
“Thursday, 5 p.m., Oct. 12, 2017,” said Jennifer, with a smile that denotes so much sadness. “Pretty easy to remember.”
That was the day at practice when someone stumbled and hit Caitlin in the head, leaving her with a concussion that lasted far longer than anyone – even the doctors who examined her – thought it would.
“(The neurologist) called what he recommended, ‘cocooning,’” her father Chris said. “Cocoon her, protect her from anything very stimulating that might induce more headaches. He said, ‘Well, OK, this looks pretty bad. But, in my experience,’ he said, ’90 percent of these resolve themselves in three weeks.’”
“That was the magic number, three weeks,” Jennifer said. “We just need to make it to three weeks.”
But three weeks passed and then three months. She wasn’t getting better. And now, 16 months after the incident, Caitlin can remember most of what happens on any given day, but her brain resets overnight and, each morning, she wakes up with no memory of the day before.
Yes, like the movie, “Fifty First Dates.” Only, a happy ending could be written for the movie. For Caitlin and her family, this is real life.
So, for the last nearly 500 days, her father wakes her up each morning and tells her what day it is and what happened all those months ago that robbed her of her memory.
“I’m always afraid that she’s going to jump out of bed and tell me, ‘It’s wrong’ and, ‘It can’t be.’ And, why am I lying to her? So I’m always very hesitant everyday when I do it, but it’s my job. I have to tell her,” her dad said.
When asked if Caitlin has ever pushed back, he said, “The most that she’s ever done is act very, very surprised. Or say something like, ‘How can that be?’ And when she does that, I explained to her that she has a journal. It’s on her desk. She has Post-It Notes, read those and if she has any questions, come and see me in 15, 20 minutes.”
And when asked if it’s heartbreaking every morning?
See the beginning of Caitlin’s story in episode one of “Caitlin Can’t Remember” in the Buckley Report.
Subscribe to the Caitlin Can’t Remember podcast in the iTunes store or Google Play and get updates on Caitlin’s condition and her family’s search for answers, or you can just click on the podcast player below.