The Woman Whose True Story Inspired the Movie "50 First Dates"

The Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore film 50 First Dates might be a romantic comedy, but if you imagine a life where you were unable to create new memories, it probably wouldn't be all that funny. That's reality for Michelle Philpots (pictured below) from Lincolnshire, England, whose memory has been wiped every single day for the past 23 years, just like Barrymore's character Lucy in the 2004 film. After two vehicle crashes, Michelle was left with a type of amnesia neuroscience specialist Dr. Peter Nestor describes as "rare but it does exist.” The first accident took place in 1985 when Philpots was on a motorbike, and five years latershe was involved in an automobile crash. She suffered trauma to her head in both incidents. Now, Michelle is stuck in 1994. Her memories don't go past that year, meaning she wakes up every day thinking she's 23 years younger than her actual 53 years, believing that John Major is still Prime Minister and that Forrest Gump is a new movie. Unfortunately, where the character of Lucy in 50 First Dates loses her memory every night when she goes to sleep, it can be even more severe in Michelle's case of anterograde amnesia. While she forgets what's happened every day without fail — regressing back to 1994 in her mind — sometimes the memory loss can occur within minutes of making a new memory. So, she might meet someone and within moments forget who she's talking to and why. Michelle does have methods to help her remember things. She leaves Post-It notes all around the house, as well as using the calendar on her phone to remind her of places she has to go or people she has arranged to see. Even that can be confusing, since mobile phones weren’t exactly commonplace in 1994. Michelle says her life is more like Groundhog Day than 50 First Dates. "It's like I am living the same day, day after day.”