My latest post for the Secular Spectrum: Winning the Everlasting Gobstopper of Life
This is my brain on strokes. But despite what my doctors proclaimed, the damage wasn't "profound." They knew that my damage was in the watershed areas--as my hospital records attest--but didn't take into account that my relative youth and the nature of watershed-area stroke damage gave me a better chance of recovery, which they listed as poor.
My neurologist told me that the watershed areas tend not to control the most vital systems and they tend to bounce back faster after they've been damaged. My relative youth also meant that I had a better chance of recovery.
To me, the fact that the less important systems blink out first and recover better strongly suggests that this is an evolutionary triage system,
Natural selections saved my life, even though I was hardly the fittest.
My "miraculous" recovery from a 6-week coma through a skeptical and humanist lens, written by a writer published by Skeptical Inquirer and Free Inquiry. When I awoke, I could barely raise my head, and it has been a hard road back. I also aim to educate the public about covert cognition. Too many people who are still conscious are being dismissed as hopeless vegetables, as I was. As many as one in five people with consciousness disorders have covert cognition. For them, there is still hope.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Winning the Everlasting Gobstopper of Life
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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.
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