Recovery

Dear fellow coma victims.

If you can read and understand these words you have retained basic mental functions and can work on other defects. Some coma victims can’t see. Similarly my most significant defect was the brains communication with body parts. I also experienced significant memory loss. I was told by doctors that the brain is rebuilding. They say coma and stroke are similar conditions, brain death.

I think coma victims should always be aware the brain is rebuilding and creating new pathways if your MRI scans reveal brain damage. They should practice repetition to help build the new pathways. I think a reason I can walk today is because I often do it mentally, and I turn my ankle, heel then toe. I could never balance on my bad leg despite daily attempts. I still can’t confidently do that but it’s much better. The things I once attempted daily I can now do badly. Improvement.

And a memory! I remember when I was maybe 2 months out of hospital walking about 1 km to the train station to travel on public transport to visit my twin brother. Everyone thought I shouldn’t do this. It was a trip that might normally take 1.5 hours which took me more than 3. While doing this I actively focussed on the mental sensations while walking. During this period my family would have accepted for me to be institutionalised. We even looked at such places. Then she came from Singapore to check on my progress. I went back with her to the country I had lived for about 10 years, we got married.

You might say that my improvement was a consequence of time but I think not, one must try to be themselves again, we are not merely an expression of time. Normality doesn’t happen naturally for coma victims, we must mentally construct what is normal to become it.

An indirect memory, I am told when in hospital I always thought I was at the airport about to catch a flight. I couldn’t speak well, or with logic, organise my ideas. Now I know where I am and what happened yesterday. I have done daily exercises for my memory, questions like what did I eat for dinner last night? My main advice to coma victims is to keep pushing yourself and not to shy away from things because people don’t think you should do that. We must rebuild our brains after coma. Indeed coma is a subtle condition unlike obvious physical damage, for example a broken leg. You can’t see a broken brain.

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