Navy Vet Wakes in California Thinking He's a Swede Named Johan

A 61-year-old U.S. Navy veteran from Florida woke up in a California hospital in February speaking only Swedish, with no recollection of his past life.

Michael Boatwright was discovered unconscious in a Motel 6 in Palm Springs, California on February 28. He'd arrived in California from Hong Kong just four days earlier, with two bags, several tennis rackets, some cash, and four forms of identification, all of which listed him as Michael Boatwright from Dade County, Florida. Yet, when the man woke up, he insisted, in Swedish, that his name was Johan Ek.

“The guy Michael — it wasn’t me. I’m still Johan,” he said to a Swedish translator in a recent interview with The Desert Sun.

Doctors eventually diagnosed Boatwright with Transient Global Amnesia in “fugue state,” a disorder characterized by “sudden and unplanned travel,” memory loss, and the possible adoption of a new identity, according to The Desert Sun. The disorder can last for several months.

Lisa Hunt-Vasquez, a social worker assigned to the case, was able to piece together some of Boatwright's past. She discovered records of two ex-wives, a son, and a 14-year career teaching English in China and Japan. She also found photos of Boatwright as a child in Sweden.

"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 told the newspaper.

Boatwright had almost no money, though he has several Chinese bank accounts which he can't access. And even if he could access the accounts, Boatwright wouldn't be able to use them; according to Hunt-Vasquez, he can't remember how to exchange money, to find shelter, or to use public transportation on his own.

Because he has neither any savings nor insurance, Boatwright has become a liability for the hospital treating him. “They see him as eating up hospital funds and that he should just be discharged to kind of fend for himself,” Vasquez told the Sun, noting that she's trying to secure Social Security and veteran's benefits

Asked if he's faking the disorder, Boatwright laughed. "Walk in my shoes for one day," he told the Sun. "You’ll experience the nightmare of a lifetime."

[Image via AP]

To contact the author of this post, email taylor@gawker.com