Thursday, June 18, 2015

More than a prayer of a chance

I chose this pic for my Skeptical Inquirer bio because I look, um, skeptical in it.
When I submitted my new essay, "Sympathy for the Devil-Believers," to Free Inquiry, it was a bit of an act of faith, so to speak. Though it's something of a sequel to the first essay they accepted, "Without a Prayer of a Chance," it might have been too soon for them to want to publish another essay written by me. But I decided to take a chance...and it payed off.

In fact, to be honest, I actually expected them to accept it. This is a new experience for me, coming from the fiction-writing world, with its constant stream of form rejections. I lived for the encouraging rejections. Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it?

But I don't think this is really an indication of my nonfiction writing brilliance. Though I do think my nonfiction benefits from my ability with fictional prose, I believe my success with the skeptic/humanist market--three for three!--has more to do with my understanding of secularists. I understand them because I'm one of them. As a fiction writer, not a journalist, I tend to write for myself. In this case, I'm in tune with the interest of this market because I'm not targeting it from the outside. I have sympathy for the non-believers, because I am one.

The lesson I take from this is that I need to continue writing for the skeptic and humanist market. Four for four, anyone?

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Coma Girl

Coma Girl

About Me

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In July of 2013, I fell into a six-week coma and nearly died. When I awoke from the coma, I could barely lift my head. It has been a hard road to recovery. The doctors advised my loved ones to give up all hope for my full recovery, but while they were shining lights in my eyes to gauge my level of consciousness, I was telling them grumpily to leave me alone because I was trying to get back to my coma-dream. I was experiencing covert cognition, and the coma-dream was my version of a near-death experience. I'm a skeptic, so I saw surreal images instead of spirits or dead loved ones. According to my research, as many as one in five people with consciousness disorders have covert cognition.

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.