Wednesday, January 6, 2016

"God is Good," But for What?

The Secular Spectrum: "God is Good," But for What?

I suppose you can say that I violated my policy about avoiding offending the religious. But it wasn't deliberate. I had an instant and visceral response when the priest asked me, "Have you thanked God for your life?"


At least, that would've been my response if I could speak. But my trach prevented that, so I responded with as vigorous a head shake as I could managed, considering my weakened state from six weeks of complete immobility.

I didn't mean to offend him, but I'm not sorry about it either. If he had looked at my chart he would've seen that my religion was listed as atheist (not that atheism is a religion, of course).

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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.