Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Coming to a newsstand (or mailbox) near you

The cover of the issue where my first Free Inquiry essay was published. It was appropriate for someone who was called "funny, profane and adamantly atheistic" by the Washington Post.
Free Inquiry has been been berry berry gooood to me! (Perhaps I'm dating myself with a reference to that old Saturday Night Live catch phrase. That bit is also kind of racist, making fun of Latin American accents, but, hey, I didn't create that sketch!)

Anyway, it's gotten so that when I submitted my latest essay to them, I expected that they would accept it for publication. I would've been crushed if they had rejected it, but my assumption proved correct, fortunately.

"Saving My Life by Saving My Soul?" shares the title of a Coma Chameleon blog on the same subject. It tells the tale of the mendacious minister at the hospital, who made the situation around my apparent death bed more stressful for my secular loved ones.

The essay also talks about the very first time someone implied that my recovery was a miracle. That was the priest in my Catholic nursing home, All Saints. He took one look at me after my awakening and said, "God is good."

I've written about these stories both in Coma Chameleon and in the Secular Spectrum. The essay is a synthesis of what I've written in both blogs. It's slated for the October/November issue of Free Inquiry. My first essay, "Without a Prayer of a Chance," also appeared in their October/November issue, in 2015. The publication of the new essay will therefore make a fitting anniversary celebration for my secularist writing career. Though I'll always hold a special place in my heart for the first work I published for secularists, the Skeptical Inquirer article, "Covert Cognition: My So-Called Near-Death Experience."

I guess you can say that my coma-related experiences have been berry berry gooood to my writing career, too!

Here are the Coma Chameleon posts on the aforementioned stories: All Saints; one "none"Saving my life by saving my soul?God say me eat COOKIE. And here are the SecSpec posts: "God is Good," But for What?Isn't There Something in the Bible About Lying?The Chaplain's Cat Logic; A Little Birdie Told Me to Do It.

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Coma Girl

Coma Girl

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In July of 2013, I fell into a six-week coma and nearly died. When I awoke from the coma, I could barely lift my head. It has been a hard road to recovery. The doctors advised my loved ones to give up all hope for my full recovery, but while they were shining lights in my eyes to gauge my level of consciousness, I was telling them grumpily to leave me alone because I was trying to get back to sleep...in my coma-dream. I was experiencing covert cognition, and the coma-dream was my version of a near-death experience. I'm a skeptic, so I saw surreal images instead of spirits or dead loved ones. According to my research, as many as one in five people with consciousness disorders have covert cognition.

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.