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Unread Nov 23rd, 2009, 11:08 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Man Trapped In 23-Year 'Coma' Was Conscious

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An engineering student thought to be in a coma for 23 years was actually conscious the whole time, it has emerged.

Rom Houben was misdiagnosed as being in a vegetative state after a car crash left him totally paralysed.

For the whole time, he was trapped in his own body with no way of letting friends and family know he could hear every word they were saying.

The 46-year-old, who can now tap out computerised messages and read books on a device above his hospital bed, has revealed: "I screamed, but there was nothing to hear.

"All that time I literally dreamed of a better life. Frustration is too small a word to describe what I felt.

"I shall never forget the day when they discovered what was truly wrong with me - it was my second birth.

"I want to read, talk with my friends via the computer and enjoy life now people know I am not dead."

His misdiagnosis was discovered by neurological expert Dr Steven Laureys, who fears there may be similar cases all over the world.

He looked at Mr Houben's case again at the University of Liege, Belgium, using state-of-the-art imaging that showed the patient was aware of what was happening around him even though he had lost control of his body.

Dr Laureys, who leads the Coma Science Group, was unavailable for comment when contacted by Sky News Online.

He told the Daily Telegraph: "In Germany alone each year some 100,000 people suffer from severe traumatic brain injury.

"About 20,000 are followed by a coma of three weeks or longer. Some of them die, others regain health.

"But an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people a year, remain trapped in an intermediate stage: they go on living without ever coming back again."

Rom, a martial arts enthusiast who remains in constant care at a facility near Brussels, was repeatedly wrongly assessed in Zolder, Belgium, by doctors using technology available at the time.

They used the internationally accepted Glasgow Coma Scale to assess his eye, verbal and motor responses. But each time he was graded incorrectly.

The disclosure is likely to renew the right-to-die debate over whether people in comas are truly unconscious.

There have been several cases where people in deep comas have recovered.

Carrie Coons, 86, from New York, regained consciousness 20 years ago.

Days before her recovery, a judge had granted a request for the removal of her feeding tube which had been keeping her alive.
http://uk.news.yahoo.com/5/20091123/...s-3fd0ae9.html

that sounds pretty unpleasant - scream and nobody hears, hear everything and so-on, but unable to respond... even worse if they decide to turn off the machines - or would that be the blissful release after being confined in your own body?
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Unread Nov 23rd, 2009, 03:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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the first thing i tought, what kind of conversasions happened in front of him when they thought he couldn't hear?
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Unread Nov 23rd, 2009, 04:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Yeah, I saw this story as well. I think I would rather die than lay there for 23 years, unable to do anything...

I wonder how long it will take for people to tell him everything that has happened since 1986.
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Unread Nov 23rd, 2009, 04:22 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Another 23 years I bet.

I feel bad for the guy. I don't know if I'd still wanna live if I missed half my life, especially most of my 20's
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Unread Nov 23rd, 2009, 04:48 PM   #5 (permalink)
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woow that is so unbelievably sad
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Unread Nov 23rd, 2009, 05:36 PM   #6 (permalink)
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So let me get this straight. This guy is going to find out about the Gulf War. 9/11. The internet. Bali, Madrid, London bombings. Katrina... and the government response to it. iPhones. Computer animation/video games (various stages of evolution to now). Obama. Alternative music. Britney Spears. Sudan & Darfur. The Australian fires. Columbine etc. Lady Diana. The Unibomber.

Geez. It's a lot to be filled in on, nearly overwhelming.
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Unread Nov 23rd, 2009, 06:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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how many secrets might he have heard

but thats just plain sad.
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Unread Nov 23rd, 2009, 06:26 PM   #8 (permalink)
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So sad.

I have suffered the experience of 'sleep paralysis' a couple of times, and I can tell you that even for just a couple of minutes this experience is utterly terrifying. You can't move your eyes, can't open your mouth, can't make a single sound - when all you want to do is scream.

I just can't imagine how he survived that for 23 years.
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Unread Nov 24th, 2009, 03:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Firebug View Post
So let me get this straight. This guy is going to find out about the Gulf War. 9/11. The internet. Bali, Madrid, London bombings. Katrina... and the government response to it. iPhones. Computer animation/video games (various stages of evolution to now). Obama. Alternative music. Britney Spears. Sudan & Darfur. The Australian fires. Columbine etc. Lady Diana. The Unibomber.

Geez. It's a lot to be filled in on, nearly overwhelming.
I know, though he's from Belgium, so I'm not sure if some of those things are relevant to him. He'll probably be shocked that he just missed the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down, let alone things like terrorism that weren't even imaginable then.
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Unread Nov 24th, 2009, 03:24 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I know, though he's from Belgium, so I'm not sure if some of those things are relevant to him. He'll probably be shocked that he just missed the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down, let alone things like terrorism that weren't even imaginable then.
That'd be like saying that a lot of those aren't relevant to me since I live in Canada. For example, what relevance would the bali/london/madrid bombings have on me. Not much. Katrina? Same thing, not much. But it doesn't lower the impact that the events actually made.
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Unread Nov 24th, 2009, 04:41 PM   #11 (permalink)
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i think its gonna be a long time before he learns about any of the big world events

he's gonna have a lot of catching up to do within his own family, and i'm pretty sure that some learning/re-learning process will take precedence too
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Unread Nov 24th, 2009, 04:53 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Yeah, there's gonna be multiple levels of learning involved.

But then again, if I couldn't move and take part in life, I'm unsure if I would want to be brought up to date on big world events at all. On the other hand, people could stick film footage in front of me of natural disasters like hurricanes, and I'd probably enjoy the environmental aspect of it. Storms are amazing creatures to me.
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Unread Nov 24th, 2009, 05:02 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I'd try to create an imaginary world to survive
or, attempting astral projection while parlayzed must be a sinch
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Unread Nov 24th, 2009, 08:28 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Ridley View Post
I know, though he's from Belgium, so I'm not sure if some of those things are relevant to him. He'll probably be shocked that he just missed the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down, let alone things like terrorism that weren't even imaginable then.
berlin wall taken down in 1989

munich massacre happened in 1972

terrorism existed long before 1972 my friend
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Unread Nov 25th, 2009, 12:57 PM   #15 (permalink)
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berlin wall taken down in 1989

munich massacre happened in 1972

terrorism existed long before 1972 my friend
True, but the post 9/11 paranoia type of terrorism is probably a new thing. I was just trying to point out that in 1986 the USSR was the "primary bad guy" of current events, not Osama Bin Laden (who was still probably fighting the Russians in Afghanistan ironically enough, so perhaps the world hasn't changed as much as we'd like to believe).

Though as others have said, I suppose learning how to live being paralyzed probably takes precedence over figuring out what stupid stuff has happened in the world for 20 years.
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Unread Nov 25th, 2009, 01:43 PM   #16 (permalink)
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, but the post 9/11 paranoia type of terrorism is probably a new thing. I was just trying to point out that in 1986 the USSR was the "primary bad guy" of current events, not Osama Bin Laden
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i see ur point but dont u think there was a shit load of paranoia during the cold war?

how putting all that aside i wonder what he thought about after he realized hed never beable to move again finally sank in.
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Unread Nov 26th, 2009, 11:22 AM   #17 (permalink)
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i see ur point but dont u think there was a shit load of paranoia during the cold war?

how putting all that aside i wonder what he thought about after he realized hed never beable to move again finally sank in.
Oh yes there was plenty of paranoia during the cold war, but most of that paranoia involved thousands of Soviet tanks crawling into West Germany and nuclear Apocalypse. Jetliners crashing into skyscrapers and bombs going off in subway tunnels probably wasn't that common in the 80s.
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Unread Nov 26th, 2009, 11:56 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Oh yes there was plenty of paranoia during the cold war, but most of that paranoia involved thousands of Soviet tanks crawling into West Germany and nuclear Apocalypse. Jetliners crashing into skyscrapers and bombs going off in subway tunnels probably wasn't that common in the 80s.
man i would rather worry about subway bombing and jetliner hijackings than being nuked
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Unread Nov 26th, 2009, 12:09 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Jetliners crashing into skyscrapers and bombs going off in subway tunnels probably wasn't that common in the 80s.
heard of the Lockerbie bombing?

or the IRA? or Hezbollah? or Hamas?
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Unread Nov 26th, 2009, 02:44 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Yeah, I've heard about this a few days ago when it came on the news. Man how on earth would anyone want to live like that? I'm sure I'd want them to kill me, eventhough you wouldn't be able to say anything. That's hell.
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