Saturday, November 7, 2015

Unpacking from a Trip to Heaven

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For months, I've clung to the idea that one of my favorite pair of sandals were still in a hidden pocket in my suitcase. Keith had unpacked it when I was in my coma, and it was understandable that he might miss them in that fraught time. After all, surely I couldn't have left them in Sicily--we checked all the drawers and shelves as we packed up from the hotel. But when I was writing my latest post for the Secular Spectrum, I was forced to check the suitcases. They were indeed missing from those hidden pockets. Gone forever, since it's unlikely the hotel would've kept them for two years.

I think the opposite happened when Eben Alexander "unpacked" what happened during his near-death experience. I think many of his "memories" became distorted by his later research and other influences.

As I've said before, memory is not like Memorex; it's more like Play-Doh.

Here's the link to the post: Unpacking from a Trip to Heaven

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Coma Girl

Coma Girl

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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 sleep...in 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.