Thursday, December 4, 2014

Standing on my own two feet

I remember how hard it was to stand while moving rings across a shower curtain-like bar during physical therapy in the nursing home. One of the most useful types of physical therapy I've received, however, was the balance exercises I was taught at my behest. I have some stroke damage that may have affected my balance, the only noticeable manifestation of the multiple strokes I experienced on both sides of my brain. According to my neurologist, my other physical problems are due to the deconditioning from my six weeks of coma. She told me that I should eventually get all my physical capabilities back, but I was getting frustrated because my wobbly walking was holding my progress back. I now have more walking endurance than before my coma and strokes, so I reasoned that more physical therapy to improve my walking wasn't the solution, and it turns out that I was right.

At any rate, during our trip to Long Beach's Aquarium of the Pacific Monday, I found myself unconsciously standing without any support to shoot photos. It was as if I had been standing my entire life. ;-) And I was standing steady enough to get good shots, too. Getting that balance therapy was one of the best decisions I ever made. This goes to show that you really do have to take charge of your own healthcare.

Here are some more photos we took at the aquarium, including many others of me standing unaided: Tumblr blog.


  1. You've come such a loooong way Geekling. I'm so impressed with your new blog site here too. Keep up the great work and recovery! Hugs to you.... Strumelia

    1. Thanks so much, Lisa! This blog is great for my writing, too!


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Coma Girl

Coma Girl

Not a miracle recovery, but a miracle of modern medicine

In 2013 I fell into a six-week coma and nearly died after I contracted legionella. The Legionnaire's disease was in turn triggered by immunosuppression caused by the prednisone I was taking for my rare autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis.

I suffered a series of strokes on both sides of my brain when the sepsis caused my blood pressure to plummet. I fell into a deep coma. My kidneys and lungs began to fail, as my body was began dying one organ at a time. My doctors told my loved ones to give up hope for my full recovery. They expected me to die, and even if I somehow lived, I would remain a vegetable or at best left so hopelessly brain-damaged that I would never be same. But unbeknownst to them, while they were shining lights in my eyes and shaking their heads, I was telling them in my coma-dream--my secular version of a near-death experience--to leave me alone because I was trying to get back to sleep. I was experiencing what is known as covert cognition, the subject of my Skeptical Inquirer article "Covert Cognition: My So-Called Near-Death Experience," which appeared in their July/August issue.

But it wasn't a miracle--despite what so many continue to believe--that I recovered so fully. I owe my life not to God, but the miracles of modern medicine, as well as the nature of the watershed-area brain damage I suffered, as I detailed in my article and in this blog.