Ian Fleming’s epileptic great niece reveals how she refuses to dwell on negatives of her memory loss

The great-niece of Ian Fleming who struggles to remember anything that happened more than six-months ago has revealed how she tries to focus on the positive side of her memory loss. 

Hermione ‘Hum’ Fleming, 29, from Oxfordshire had her first epileptic fit when she was 13 and it damaged her long-term memory, but the fashion PR said that there are upsides, such as not being able to remember bad things.

Hum told the Times: ‘There is a great side-effect, that I can also forget all the s**t times in life as well. 

‘So when everyone else is crying about their ex-boyfriend three years later, I’ll have forgotten about him in a year’s time.’

She added that her condition also stops her getting bored, joking: ‘I must have watched Love Actually 200 times.’ 

Hermione 'Hum' Fleming, 29, pictured at the Cartier Racing Awards in London in November 2018, can only remember the past six months after epileptic seizures destroyed her memory

Hermione 'Hum' Fleming, 29, pictured at the Cartier Racing Awards in London in November 2018, can only remember the past six months after epileptic seizures destroyed her memory

Hermione ‘Hum’ Fleming, 29, pictured at the Cartier Racing Awards in London in November 2018, can only remember the past six months after epileptic seizures destroyed her memory 

Hum, pictured with Millie Mackintosh during London Fashion Week in February, had her first epileptic fit when she was 13 and at home with her father in Oxfordshire

Hum, pictured with Millie Mackintosh during London Fashion Week in February, had her first epileptic fit when she was 13 and at home with her father in Oxfordshire

Hum, pictured with Millie Mackintosh during London Fashion Week in February, had her first epileptic fit when she was 13 and at home with her father in Oxfordshire

Hum is the great niece of 007 creator, Ian Fleming (pictured) and counts society figures including Millie Mackintosh and Lady Kitty Spencer among her friends

Hum is the great niece of 007 creator, Ian Fleming (pictured) and counts society figures including Millie Mackintosh and Lady Kitty Spencer among her friends

Hum is the great niece of 007 creator, Ian Fleming (pictured) and counts society figures including Millie Mackintosh and Lady Kitty Spencer among her friends 

Hum experienced her first epileptic fit when she was 13 and watching television at home in Oxfordshire with her father Roddie. 

She explained how she felt as if she was having an ‘out-of-body experience’ and that ‘everything went out of focus.’  

Ever since then she has only been able to remember six months back into the past, but all her memories from before the fit at 13 are clear.

Hum was diagnosed at the age of 15 after tests over two years. By that stage, she was having around three episodes a week. 

Initially, they were thought to stem from blood pressure, heart issues or panic attacks. 

She told the Daily Mail: ‘We’d reached the point where the words “brain tumour” were being bandied around, which was pretty terrifying.

The fashion PR, pictured at the Perrier-Jouet Terrace Party in London in March, said although she might forget her parents when they die, she tries to 'celebrate life even more' because of her memory loss

The fashion PR, pictured at the Perrier-Jouet Terrace Party in London in March, said although she might forget her parents when they die, she tries to 'celebrate life even more' because of her memory loss

The fashion PR, pictured at the Perrier-Jouet Terrace Party in London in March, said although she might forget her parents when they die, she tries to ‘celebrate life even more’ because of her memory loss

Hum is pictured at the Sophia Kah presentation during London Fashion Week

Hum is pictured at the Sophia Kah presentation during London Fashion Week

Hum, pictured at the Cartier Boutique Store Opening in january 2018, has to keep up with friends so that she doesn't forget them every six months

Hum, pictured at the Cartier Boutique Store Opening in january 2018, has to keep up with friends so that she doesn't forget them every six months

Due to her epilepsy Hum, pictured left during London fashion week and right in 2018, cannot remember world events such as 9/11 and can’t always recognise old friends

‘Oddly, it was such a relief to have the label of epilepsy rather than endlessly trying to explain I wasn’t just some hysterical girl.’

Now Hum, who has one or two seizures a month, is on medication to manage her condition and is an ambassador for Young Epilepsy.

Positive Hum, who knows she went to university but cannot remember what her dissertation was about, also cannot remember world events due to her condition.

She had no recollection of 9/11 attacks in New York and revealed that she thought Michael Jackson would be arrested at the end of documentary Leaving Neverland, forgetting he was dead.   

Hum, who is pals with Lady Kitty Spencer and Millie Mackintosh, told the Times she takes a lot of pictures.

She said that although this can annoy her friends, she wants to do it so she can look back on events after the memories have faded from her mind.

Hum, pictured at an event in 2015, works in fashion PR and said it is great to be in an industry which is forward thinking

Hum, pictured at an event in 2015, works in fashion PR and said it is great to be in an industry which is forward thinking

Hum, pictured at an event in 2015, works in fashion PR and said it is great to be in an industry which is forward thinking

Hum said she feels lucky to have had her life experiences even though she cannot always remember. She is pictured at the launch of the Perrier-Jouet Champagne Terrace in March

Hum said she feels lucky to have had her life experiences even though she cannot always remember. She is pictured at the launch of the Perrier-Jouet Champagne Terrace in March

Hum said she feels lucky to have had her life experiences even though she cannot always remember. She is pictured at the launch of the Perrier-Jouet Champagne Terrace in March

But despite this, looking at a picture does not help her remember, and she has to put an effort in to keep up with people so they’re not forgotten after six months. 

Being confronted with things she should recall can be difficult for Hum, as close friends can feel ‘upset’ when she doesn’t recognise them. 

Last year she revealed she can be ‘almost more comfortable socialising with strangers, because I don’t have to pretend to know things which I don’t.’ 

Determined to keep positive about her condition, Hum said she is thankful to work in fashion as it is future-focused just like her own brain.

The 29-year-old said she felt ‘lucky to have had the life experiences’ she has had even if she can’t remember them for ever.

She said living in six-month cycles of memory makes her ‘celebrate life even more’ and make the most of her time.

She said: ‘If I’m just going to have six months, then I may as well make these six months amazing even if they’re going to disappear at some point.’ 

What is epilepsy?  

Epilepsy is a condition that affects the brain and leaves patients at risk of seizures.

Around one in 100 people in the UK have epilepsy, Epilepsy Society statistics reveal.

And in the US, 1.2 per cent of the population have the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Anyone can have a seizure, which does not automatically mean they have epilepsy. 

Usually more than one episode is required before a diagnosis.

Seizures occur when there is a sudden burst of electrical activity in the brain, which causes a disruption to the way it works.

Some seizures cause people to remain alert and aware of their surroundings, while others make people lose consciousness.

Some also make patients experience unusual sensations, feelings or movement, or go stiff and fall to the floor where they jerk.

Epilepsy can be brought on at any age by a stroke, brain infection, head injury or problems at birth that lead to lack of oxygen.

But in more than half of cases, a cause is never found.

Anti-epileptic drugs do not cure the condition but help to stop or reduce seizures. 

If these do not work, brain surgery can be effective.

Source: Epilepsy Action

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