The Groundhog Day girl: Teenager, 19, loses memory every 24 hours after memories are wiped by rare brain disease
Trapped in a time-warp, Jess Lydon wakes up every morning with no new memories of previous days.
The 19-year-old girl was diagnosed just two weeks ago with Susac's syndrome, an incredibly rare neurological condition which means she loses her memories every 24 hours.
Jess, from Coventry, is left unable to recall yesterday's dinner, last Christmas, or even that she has split up with her boyfriend of two years.
She is one of just 250 known sufferers in the world of the 'Groundhog Day' syndrome – so-called in reference to the 1993 film starring Bill Murray as a grumpy weather forecaster forced to relive the same 24 hours over and over.
Trapped in the present: One of the most distressing symptoms for Jess are the regular delusions she suffers as a result of the condition
For Jess – an aspiring actress who only last year memorised the entire script of West End musical We Will Rock You for a starring role – the condition leaves her unable to lead a normal life, or remember the highs and lows of everyday life.
She said: 'I can hardly remember anything that has happened in the last year – not even Christmas or my last birthday in December.
'When I look at photographs I just find it confusing.
'The really upsetting thing is I don't remember my nan's funeral last year.'
The condition is caused by
inflammation in the tiny blood vessels in the brain and can affect
sight, hearing, balance and memory.
The disease has taken a heavy toll on Jess' life. She broke up with her boyfriend of two years and has been forced to move back home with her mother Tracey.
Her mother also has to help her with the most basic tasks such as bathing and washing her hair, and Jess fears she will have to give up her job working in a bingo hall diner because her balance is so bad.
'Every day is Groundhog Day': Bill Murray's comedic but thought-provoking film explores the reality of being trapped in the same day forever
Distress: When Georgia was being treated at University Hospital, Coventry, she believed surgeons needed to remove a shoe they left in her stomach after an operation
'I can’t go out on my own in case I fall over,' said Jess.
'Last week I fell downstairs. It was so painful I thought I had broke my foot – I was really scared.'
She is surrounded by get well cards at home but doesn't recognise many of the names. Her mother has to assure her she does know the people who sent them.
THE PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY
Memory has always been a popular storyline in fiction.
In 1993's Groundhog Day,
Bill Murray is forced to re-live the same 24 hours over and over again –
and while he retains his memories, everyone around him 'resets' each
Christopher Nolan's breakthrough film, Memento,
also holds a parallel to Jess's case, where a man (played by Guy
Ritchie) is unable to form new memories after the death of his wife.
He spends each day trying to solve her murder, and the only way he can retain the clues he finds is to tattoo them on his body.
Jess has also suffered sight loss, hearing loss, severe headaches and an aversion to natural light – all possible signs of Susac.
Her family say her personality has also changed, making her more frustrated and short tempered.
However, one of the most distressing symptoms is the constant confusion and regular delusions.
When Jess was admitted to University Hospital, she believed surgeons needed to remove a shoe they left in her stomach after an operation.
She later became convinced she was in hospital near her grandparents’ old home in Great Yarmouth.
Tracey said: 'I have cried so much since this happened.
'It’s not fair. Jess has got her whole life ahead of her but she has been struck down by something we know so little about.
'We don’t know how long this is going to affect her or what the future is going to hold for her.'
Susac syndrome is an extremely rare condition that mainly affects women aged between 20 and 40.
It can take up to five years to correct itself, while sight and hearing loss can be permanent.
Guy Pearce and Carrie-Anne Moss star in Memento, Christopher Nolan's thriller about a man who cannot form new memories
Many doctors are unaware of the condition – a GP initally diagnosed Jess with vertigo.
Thankfully, a team at University Hospital worked out what was wrong within 12 days and she is now being treated with steroids.
Consultant neurologist Holger Allroggen led the team at University Hospital which diagnosed Jess.
He said: 'Susac syndrome is a very rare condition that most neuroscience centres would see no more than one case every few years.
'The condition is hard to diagnose because there is no one single typical symptom or confirmatory test.'