GREENSBORO, N.C. — How do you navigate a world that is always changing when your knowledge of it can’t?
Caitlin Little was mastering her world until one day, during her freshman year at Southeast Guilford High School, a cross country teammate accidentally hit her in the side of the head, leaving Caitlin with a traumatic brain injury deep enough that, to this day, her brain resets each night and she has no memory of the day before.
“When she first got hurt we were OK with it because everybody was like, ‘Oh, yeah, two weeks, you’re good,’” remembers her mom, Jennifer Little. “And then I was told three weeks is that critical moment — if she’s not better in three weeks, you’re in for the long haul. And three weeks passed and we weren’t better.”
She did get better over the first six months but has been stuck at that level since April 2018 and has had to develop ways to cope in a world that changes, while her memory can’t add new information.
“[I have to be] very organized. So I have lots of Post-It notes that say, ‘Hey, let’s do this,’ or, ‘This is new,’ or things to help me out. So it’s not as hard as I’d imagine it’d be without them,” Caitlin said.
Because of her condition, Caitlin wakes up each morning thinking it’s Oct. 13, 2017 — the day after the accident.
“Hey, sweetheart,” says her dad, Chris, softly, each morning. And then he has to break the news, “You got hit on the head during cross country practice and you’ve been out of things for a while.”
It’s an odd thing for anyone to hear.
“I get plagued by confusion most often, wanting to know, ‘Well, how did that happen?’” Caitlin said. But she finds a way to understand and move on.
But her challenges for the day are just beginning. See how she does it, in this second episode 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.