I was heartbroken after a virus made me think it was the '70s… I couldn’t look in the mirror and was horrified by prices | The Sun

A MUM has told of the heartbreak she felt when a virus made her think it was still the 1970s.

Alison Winterburn, 61, said she couldn't even look in the mirror because she was so shocked by the older face staring back at her.

She also couldn't look at the price of anything – she was horrified how the figures had skyrocketed.

The Manchester mum-of-two was left thinking it was the disco era after suffering the devastating effects of a brain injury, which left her confused as to who and where she was.

Fifty years ago Alison was a teenager – which is why she was so stunned when she looked in the mirror one day and saw the face of a then-51-year-old looking back.

She applied some makeup and looked at herself again, but as she blinked the image did not change.

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Alison then checked behind the mirror – she was convinced there was another woman in the room.

But no one else was there and it wasn't the '70s – it was 2012.

Alison told the Manchester Evening News: “I was genuinely shocked to see a middle-aged lady looking back at me and not the youngster I expected."

She added: “For a long time I wouldn't allow my husband to buy the newspaper because I was horrified by the inflated prices.

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"I couldn't quite comprehend the time jump between the era I thought I was living in and my twenty-first-century reality.

"My catchphrase became: 'It's how much?!'"

Alison said she had an "unnerving bought of confusion" for weeks, adding: "I truly believed it was still the 1970s.

"Gradually, my short-term memory improved and, with the continued support of my family, I slowly came to terms with the real middle-aged and married-with-children 'me'.

"I effectively had to relearn who I was. I had no idea where I was, even in my own home."

During that time 10 years ago, Alison's family had started noticing she was saying words in the wrong order and wasn't making eye contact.

Her husband Ray was shocked by her strange behavior, so he rushed her to hospital.

There the couple were seen by a doctor in the neurology department who immediately recognised Alison’s symptoms.

She had viral encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain caused by a virus.

For a long time, I didn’t recognise anywhere. I was stuck in the 1970s.

Alison was immediately given medication to ease the swelling but she was left with severe scarring on the frontal lobe of her brain – causing a brain injury that would change her life forever.

She said: “I felt groggy and dizzy for weeks.

“When I returned home after spending three weeks in Manchester Royal Infirmary, the scariest thing was that my brain injury had caused extreme short and long-term memory loss."

Alison, who taught A-level psychology at a high school, added: "For a long time, I didn’t recognise anywhere. I was stuck in the 1970s and I have a vague idea that it wasn’t right.

"Being a teacher of psychology, I was almost able to treat myself as if I was a case study. It encouraged me to get better.”

She was unable to drive for 10 months as her memory loss meant she would often become lost and frightened.

And Alison is suffering the after-effects of the virus – she said she still gets confused as to where she is.

She said: "It’s like you’re not the same person you were before.

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"Even today, life can prove very difficult when people do not understand why I suffer from memory problems and I sometimes think of that teenage girl in the mirror, wishing I really was her again.

"However, my two now-adult sons have been encouraging and resolutely positive ever since my brain injury and I am determined to rebuild my sense of self-worth.”

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