John Froschauer  /  AP
Amnesia victim Jeff Ingram and friend Penny Hansen talk about his ordeal at a news conference in Lacey, Wash., Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006. Ingram left Olympia, Wash. Sept. 6 en-route to Canada to visit a sick friend and was missing until identified in October in Denver. Ingram, 40, was diagnosed with dissociative fugue, a type of amnesia. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
updated 11/2/2006 9:26:48 PM ET 2006-11-03T02:26:48

He's flipped through the photographs, listened to the stories, read through all the letters. But more than a month after he left his home in Washington and woke up in Denver with no memory, Jeff Ingram still has no idea who he is.

"Family vacations, high school graduation, prom night ... your first dance, your first kiss. That's all lost," Ingram said.

"It's very hard to put into words," he said. "It's probably the most frustrating thing that a person can ever go through, is to lose their identity. Because your past is what makes you who you are today — good or bad."

What Ingram remembers is waking up in Denver on Sept. 10 and feeling alone and terrified. He had no idea who or where he was. He had no wallet or ID, just $8, the clothes he was wearing and a pounding headache.

For several hours, he wandered the streets, pleading for help from strangers, before winding up at a hospital for testing as a John Doe. Doctors determined the memory loss came from a disorder called dissociative fugue, a rare type of amnesia that can be triggered by stress.

A nationally televised plea — "If anybody recognizes me, knows who I am, please let somebody know" — led to a reunion about a week ago with his fiancee, Penny Hansen.

Ingram, a 40-year-old former mill worker, and Hansen, a state government worker, sat hand in hand Wednesday as they thanked the police, doctors, family and friends who helped bring Ingram home.

"Jeff and I are here to tell you that faith, love and hope are alive and well through this story," Hansen said.

Ingram had been on his way to Canada to visit a friend dying of cancer when he disappeared, and Hansen has said the stress involved in that might have triggered the amnesia. Police in Denver have said they believe fully Ingram's amnesia is real.

So far, though, few doctors have been able to help Ingram with the disorder, the couple said. They are asking that any experts who might be able to help contact them.

According to his relatives, Ingram suffered a similar memory loss in 1995, when he vanished for about nine months. He eventually surfaced in Seattle, but he had no recollection of family, friends or his previous life.

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Ingram said Thursday that his friends tell him he's pretty much the same guy he was before he disappeared, though a few things have changed. Food for example. He told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday he's been told that he didn't like green peppers or coconuts before, but that he likes them now.

"There's actually three things that we're probably going to be working on," he said. "One is an ID bracelet of some kind, and a tattoo, as well, and, possibly a GPS track device embedded somewhere. We're just going to cover all the bases right now."

Ingram said he remains hopeful that the jumbled pieces of his memory will fall into place someday.

"I just keep trying everything, hoping something will click and just open it up," he said. In the meantime, he said, "I go through my intuition because I don't have any memories coming back. ... But me being here, I know I'm in the right place."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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