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US Navy vet wakes up with amnesia, speaks only Swedish

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Michael Boatwright was diagnosed with Transient Global Amnesia in a "fugue state." (Source: CNN) Michael Boatwright was diagnosed with Transient Global Amnesia in a "fugue state." (Source: CNN)

PALM SPRINGS, CA (RNN) - A 61-year-old man from Florida named Michael Boatwright woke up in an emergency room speaking only Swedish and claimed his name was Johan Ek.

In an extensive story by The Desert Sun newspaper, Boatwright was found unconscious Feb. 28 in a Motel 6. He had several forms of identification that said his name was Michael Thomas Boatwright from Florida, as well as photos of him and his family. Police arrived and took him to nearby Desert Regional Medical Center.

Two weeks later, Boatwright was diagnosed with Transient Global Amnesia in a "fugue state," according to Lisa Hunt-Vasquez, a social worker helping Boatwright find out who he is, the newspaper reported.

But even though Hunt-Vasquez has been able to put together some clues to who Boatwright is, he said has no memory of who that person is.

"The guy Michael - it wasn't me. I'm still Johan," he said in Swedish through a translator in a recent hospital interview.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Transient Global Amnesia is a rare form of amnesia that "is a sudden, temporary episode of memory loss that can't be attributed to a more common neurological condition, such as epilepsy or stroke."

In addition, memories of recent events vanish and one can't remember where they are or how they got there. In a normal episode of this disorder – like most forms of amnesia - one is able to remember who they are and people they know.

However, in a "fugue state," those personal memories vanish and can sometimes last for months.

With almost nothing to go on other than a few IDs, Hunt-Vasquez went on a quest to find out who Boatwright is, talking to several people across the world in places where he had some sort of connection. From what she was able to pick up, Boatwright served in the U.S. Navy from 1971 to 1973, taught English in China and Japan for several years, has two ex-wives, both of his parents are deceased, and he might have two sisters in Sweden.

However, he still maintained he has no idea about any of that.

"Sometimes it makes me really sad and sometimes it just makes me furious about the whole situation and the fact that I don't know anybody, I don't recognize anybody," Boatwright told the newspaper.

With only a few dollars to his name and no way to access a known bank account in China, it was reported he has no way to pay for his medical bills.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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