November 23, 2009 at 9:07 pm #32620
note: if you want to know what “forced self-observation” is about, read this amazing story.
BELGIAN TELLS OF SECOND BIRTH AFTER DOCTORS DISCOVERED BRAIN FUNCTION
November 24, 2009
A Belgian thought to have been in a coma for 23 years has told of his
“second birth” after doctors realised he was in fact conscious.
Medical staff at a hospital in Liege, eastern Belgium, believed Rom Houben
had been left in a vegetative state by a serious car accident in 1983, but
he was simply paralysed and unable to communicate.
The former engineering student and martial arts enthusiast, now 46, told the
German newsmagazine Der Spiegel that he meditated to pass the long years
trapped in his own body.
Houben’s true condition was discovered three years ago when new tests at the
University of Liege found that his brain was still functioning.
Using a specially-adapted computer to type messages, Houben has been able to
describe the ordeal he endured for more than two decades.
I would scream, but no sound would come out, he said, I will never forget
the day they finally discovered what was wrong – it was my second birth.
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He could hear what was being said around him throughout but was unable to
respond. I became the witness to my own suffering as doctors and nurses
tried to speak to me and eventually gave up, he said.
The worst moment came when his mother and sister told him of the death of
his father and though he wanted to weep, his body remained motionless.
Cut off from the world, he passed his time in thought.
I dreamed of a better life all the time. Frustration is too small a word to
describe what I went through, he said.
His story emerged following an article in a medical journal by the
neurologist Steven Laureys, who told Der Spiegel that the problem was it was
very difficult to change a coma diagnosis.
Every patient should be tested at least 10 times before they are diagnosed
as being in a vegetative state, he said.
But Houben’s mother, Fina Houben, never gave up hope.
I always knew our son was still there, she said.
Houben is still unable to move, but he can read thanks to a device set up
over his bed, and he communicates through a keyboard.
I want to read, to talk to my friends with the computer and to live life
now people know I’m not dead, he said.
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