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  1. #1
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    Brief Awakening From a Coma

    Brief Awakening From a Coma
    By MINDY SINK, New York Times
    March 9, 2007

    DENVER, March 8 ? A woman who has been in a coma-like state for more than six years awoke for three days this week to talk with family members and eat her favorite foods before relapsing.

    ?She was smiling and grinning and told my staff she wanted to go to a club, even doing a little chair dance in her wheelchair,? said one of her doctors, Randall Bjork.

    The woman, Christa Lilly, 49, suffered a cardiac arrest in November 2000. Since then, her mother, Minnie Smith, has been caring for her at home. Ms. Smith said Ms. Lilly had awakened five times, sometimes for hours, then for days.

    ?We may have to rethink these people that have been called vegetative in nursing homes who may have some awareness of their horrible circumstances,? said Dr. Bjork. ?It goes against the grain of what we thought.?

    Ms. Lilly, who has four daughters, including a 12-year-old, and three grandchildren, awakens without warning. On Sunday her mother, 74, said the same thing to her that she does every day, ?Hi, baby; how you doing?? And this time Ms. Lilly replied, ?I?m fine.?

    Although Ms. Lilly is fed through a tube when not awake, Ms. Smith said she took her daughter out for her favorite foods this week ? catfish, hush puppies, cake and ice cream.

    Dr. Bjork said that he had been skeptical of Ms. Smith?s previous reports of her daughter?s waking states, but that he was now a believer. He said Ms. Lilly was in a ?minimally conscious state? rather than a persistent vegetative state.

    Dr. Bjork said he would like to try to stimulate Ms. Lilly back to a wakeful state through various methods, but Ms. Smith is reluctant.

    ?I don?t want my daughter to be a guinea pig for nobody,? she said Thursday. ?The good Lord is letting me know she is there, and when he is ready, he?ll bring her out and she?ll stay out.?

  2. #2
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    Re: Brief Awakening From a Coma

    According to neurology researchers that were interviewed on Charlie Rose's show regarding the Terry Wallis case, another problem is that a lot of coma patients are on Medicaid and don't have access to the best neurologists and neuroimaging techniques, which is one reason a lot of coma cases are going to continue to be misdiagnosed.

  3. #3
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    Re: Brief Awakening From a Coma

    to be out for six years and wake up and be ok for three days that is just amazing!!

  4. #4
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    Re: Brief Awakening From a Coma

    I know. It's a sad and amazing story and I don't mean to ridicule any part of it but I must confess what passed through my head was that at the end of those three days she must have said, "Sheesh... I'm exhausted... I need a nap".

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    Re: Brief Awakening From a Coma

    I was thinking the same thing, David. I wonder if, perhaps, she didn't take a look around and say to herself: "I had it right before! I don't want any part of this nonsense! I'm going back to sleep!" :red:

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    Re: Brief Awakening From a Coma

    I must admit to thinking something similar but hadnt got the guts to post it

  7. #7
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    Re: Brief Awakening From a Coma

    My immediate thoughts were darker and more disturbing than those posted above but yes along the same lines...envy on my part actually

  8. #8
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    Re: Brief Awakening From a Coma

    Reminds me of Awakenings, the book by Oliver Sacks about encephalitis lethargica (sleeping sickness) of the 1920's.

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    Re: Brief Awakening From a Coma

    my thought is, wouldn't the coma person who woke up kind of be upset about their situation? i wouldn't be happy at all to know that i'd be lapsing back into it. i don't think i'd be relaxed and going out. don't muscles atrophy when you don't use them?
    ~ our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising each time we fall - confucius
    ~ it is the journey, not the destination, that matters
    ~ keep hanging on, the sun will come shining through for you again

  10. #10
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    Re: Brief Awakening From a Coma

    I honestly don't know a lot about it but I would think it would be more like being under anaesthesis than being asleep - little concept of passage of time. Also, when she woke up, I don't know that she realized that she'd soon be back into the coma state.

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