Friday, January 22, 2016

Parambulating with peacocks

Watching a passing peacock at the Arboretum.
Rehab walk Tumblr: The Los Angeles County Arboretum.

The LA County Arboretum is enormous, filled with a huge variety of exotic trees and plants. Peafowl roam the grounds, imported by a rich former owner, Lucky Baldwin in 1880. Hummingbirds, Canada geese, and other local wildlife take advantage of the Arboretum's lakes and abundant flowers. It's huge expanse always makes for a beautiful and tiring walk.

Keith told his mom as we walked back from the relocated 1890 Santa Anita Depot, which is now a period museum (see Tumblrs for pics), how exhausting it was to push me up the hill on the way back in my wheelchair. He compared it to the Bataan Death March.

Those days are long gone. We walked almost two miles, and I could've walked further. I climbed the
steep stairs to the living quarters of the depot with relative ease. On our first visit, on my birthday last April, I clung to the banister for dear life.
Here are two photos taken on my first walk at the Arboretum on 1/4/14.

And one of me walking the opposite way at a pedestrian and (that day) peafowl crossing.
Why did the peahens cross the road?

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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.