Friday, March 13, 2015

Hair today, gone tomorrow: The sequel

This was taken shortly before I came home, when my hair was already pretty thin.

Keith reminded me how much hair I lost during the detangling. He knows because after I came home from the nursing home he had to help me with the detangling...for hours. I tried my best to detangle my hair before I washed it, but it ended up with many soggy Gordian knots. Joella usually helped me when I was in the nursing home. Every time I was given a shower--which was not as often as I was supposed to (that's something for a future post)--I would need my hair unbraided, detangled, then rebraided again. Each time, I lost handfuls of hair. So, while my ARDS undoubtedly contributed to the hair loss, it was aided and abetted by the braiding. That was the other reason why I didn't want Teresa to know why I had to get my hair cut.

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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.