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Michael Thomas Boatwright Gets Amnesia, Wakes Up Speaking Swedish: 'I'm Still Johan,' He Says

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By Daniel Distant, Christian Post Reporter
July 17, 2013|9:50 am

Michael Thomas Boatwright was found at a Motel 6 in Palm Springs, Calif. in February with no memory of his past life, his job, his family or even basic living skills- he told doctors his name was Johan Ek while speaking only Swedish. Now, despite his apparently decent physical health, the hospital doesn't know if they can discharge him because he has nowhere to go.

Michael Thomas Boatwright, 61, only accepts his name as such because doctors at Desert Regional Medical Center have informed him to do so. Authorities have been working on piecing together his life and believe he was attending a tennis tournament in Palm Springs- his bag contained a passport, social security card, and tennis gear, according to The Desert Sun.

Doctors officially diagnosed Boatwright with transient global amnesia "in a fugue state," which can happen after physical or emotional trauma. The symptoms- memory loss, sudden travel and adoption of a new identity- have made the man's life exceedingly difficult.

"The guy Michael- it wasn't me. I'm still Johan," he told The Desert Sun in July through a translator, as he cannot remember how to speak English. "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 has two ex-wives, a son and a sister, who said he "just disappeared" years ago. Authorities have managed to discover more things about him though: he used to teach in China up until May of 2012, then left once his visa expired; he was in the U.S. Navy from 1971-1973 as an aviation mechanic; and he ran a consulting company, Kultur Konsult Nyokping, but doesn't remember what he did there.

Perhaps the most useful clue is that some Swedes have called to say they remember him from the 1980s- it could explain why he is able to speak the language fluently.

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Currently Boatwright has been assigned a social worker, Lisa Hunt-Vasquez, who says he doesn't remember how to exchange cash or where he lives. In addition, his inability to speak English would hinder him severely if left alone.

"They said he was getting depressed because he wasn't able to communicate," Linda Kosvic, chairman of the Vasa Order of America chapter in San Jacinto, Calif., told The Guardian. "We've been trying to provide him support and make him feel more comfortable."

Some have suggested he find solace with the Swedish-American community. Transient global amenisa has no cure, but has sometimes resolved itself in months.

 

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