Friday, April 15, 2016

And now for something competely dfferent

The enormous jacket wasn't a fashion statement. Keith keeps it in the car, and we were woefully unprepared for a hike at an elevation of 4000 feet.
Tumblrs: McGill Trail, Los Padres National Forest

Just as my recovery taken me on a long, tortuous path, so went the search on Sunday for a trail Keith once hiked.
Before we knew it, we had overshot the mark by at forty-five miles. But also like my recovery, we found our journey took us along a pleasantly unexpected path.

We wound up far from our usual dry chaparral environs to a place that seemed like a different world. Here, we found pines and lichen-encrusted branches instead of sparse live oaks and sagebrush (which we nonetheless love).

But like our parched landscape, fire had touched this mountain forest, as well. Yet--and here's the final recovery analogy--the fire-cleared areas were already healing, with baby pines growing where their parents had been felled.

Since we've never walked in a natural pine forest before, I've dug out some pics from early garden walks. The first was taken on our first visit to the Japanese Garden on 12-8-13, in front of a very non-natural pine--a large bonzai.

The second was taken on at the LA County Arboretum on 1-4-14, also on our first visit.

The third pic, was taken at Descanso Gardens on 12-22-13. Do I even have to mention what visit it was?

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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.