Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Myth-Taken by Santa

Myth-Taken by Santa

"Santa is a fake!" I said to my mother, outraged.

Those are the words I uttered to my mother after I had noticed the gap between the mall Santa's beard and his face. My mom reports that she could see the little wheels turning in my head as I thought about the implications,

"And all the Santas, in all the malls, they're all fake too!" I added.

Keith wondered how many malls I could've seen Santa in. But as my mom and I cruised through Miami, we undoubtedly passed countless malls, all with their own Santas.

I was indignant about this fraud, though my mom had never intended me to believe in Santa Claus in the first place.

Years later, I eventually convinced my mom to give up her own myth--that God might exist.

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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.