The movie, 50 First Dates (2004) tells the story of Henry Roth (Adam Sandler), a man that is afraid of commitment until he meets the beautiful Lucy (Drew Barrymore). They hit it off and Henry thinks he’s finally found the girl of his dreams until he discovers she has short-term memory loss and forgets him the very next day.

The True Story

Unlikely as it seems, 50 First Dates is actually based on real-life, Michelle Philpots. She wakes up each day next to a man who must persuade her that he really is her husband. When she expresses her disbelief, he whips out a photo album and shows her images from their long-ago wedding.

Michelle Philpots pictured here with some of the dozens of notes she writes to herself
Michelle Philpots with some of the dozens of notes she writes to herself

Michelle and Ian got married in 1997. She lost her short-term memory in 1994, and every day since then Ian has to convince her they are married.

Michelle’s affliction was spurred on by two accidents that left her with brain trauma. She recalls everything up until 1994, but everything that happens after that is forgotten the next day. And it is not just loved ones Mrs. Philpots struggles with. She keeps track of appointments and daily responsibilities using hundreds of post-It notes and reminders on her phone’s calendar. Everything she does and everyone she meets must be documented for future reference. On the rare occasions she leaves her home in Spalding, Lincolnshire, she takes a sat-nav with her address put in.

Mrs. Philpots was involved in a motorcycle accident in 1985 and a car accident in 1990, both of which resulted in head trauma. She lost her short-term memory as a result of the incidents.  She now suffers from anterograde amnesia.

It is rather uncommon, although it does exist. You are capable of carrying out day-to-day tasks and do not forget basic skills such as speaking. However, if someone asked you what you did yesterday, you would have no idea.