Tuesday, August 18, 2015

WaPo on my CoMa (article)

Funny, frequently profane and adamantly atheistic, Savage tosses off such lines as “The reason I didn’t see dead relatives is I don’t believe in life after death. . . . I did, however, dream of ice cream.”
This is what Washington Post writer Nancy Szokan wrote in a Health & Science section article about my Skeptical Inquirer article "Covert Cognition: My So-Called Near-Death Experience" (July/August issue). The WaPo article, which appeared both in their print edition and online, is titled, "How does it feel to be in a coma for six weeks? Like a long bad night's sleep." I can answer that firsthand. In fact, I did.

Of course, this is great publicity for my writing and for Skeptical Inquirer. Indeed, the Center for Inquiry, which publishes Skeptical Inquirer, as well as Free Inquiry, where two of my essays will soon be published, posted a blurb about the WaPo article in their Facebook newsletter The Morning Heresy. But even better, the rest of the paragraph I previously quoted, states:
In a more serious vein, she casts her story as a warning against giving up on coma victims, running breezily through accounts of studies indicating that “covert cognition” occurs in a striking number of people who have been in a persistent vegetative state for years.
So public awareness of the covertly aware--as many as one in five people with consciousness disorders--was boosted by the WaPo article, as well. And I further hope that articles like this will inform their loved ones that they may indeed still be "in there," as Kate Bainbridge put it. Too many doctors pooh-pooh the signs of awareness that loved ones observe, as my doctors did.

And, I received additional good news on the publicity front today. I also learned that the book Dr. Adrian Owen is writing--the one I will be contributing to slightly by answering his questions and sending him my hospital records--is for the popular market, not just a coterie of researchers in the field.

When his book comes out, I hope no neurologist will be able to say that they haven't heard of Dr. Owen's groundbreaking work. And no loved ones of the victims will, either.


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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.