Nautilus

What It’s Like Being a Sudden Savant

Before her accident Heather Thompson was, by any measure, very successful. She lived just outside Seattle’s urban sprawl, was a CEO and a nationally respected business strategist, married, and had a two-year-old daughter. “I was at the pinnacle of my career,” she said. Then, on March 6, 2011, Thompson went to the grocery store and, when she lifted the hatch of her SUV, without warning, the hatch collapsed on her head. The impact had Thompson buckled to the ground in eye-shattering pain.

Thompson’s first thought was that she’d lost her teeth. She then heard her daughter, still strapped into the shopping cart, wailing. “Immediately, the adrenaline hit,” she said. She scooped her daughter, drove home, and then felt an inexplicable need to sleep—which she did, for three hours. She woke sitting and delirious, “giggly

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