My "miraculous" recovery from a 6-week coma through a skeptical and humanist lens, written by a writer published by Skeptical Inquirer and Free Inquiry.
When I awoke, I could barely raise my head, and it has been a hard road back. I also aim to educate the public about covert cognition. Too many people who are still conscious are being dismissed as hopeless vegetables, as I was. As many as one in five people with consciousness disorders have covert cognition. For them, there is still hope.
Miracle Girl: Celebrating Coma Day: 5 Explorations of Covert Awareness
Celebrating Coma Day -- the anniversary of my awakening -- by exploring my journey and the researchers who allow the covertly aware to speak for themselves. What better way to mark my rebirthday than by cheering the heroes of covert awareness?
Like the Great American Eclipse, the light of racial tolerance has proven to be far stronger than the retreating darkness of hate. Indeed, the casual ease between every shade and ethnicity is so commonplace that we don't even notice it.
A seemingly vegetative patient participated in his own care using the tennis study technique. But thousand of covertly aware patients languish...for now. Scott Routley's heroic efforts reach out from the gray zone of consciousness will help countless others.
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.