Not in a vegetative state

I can't stop thinking about that guy, Rom Houben. It turns out he was not in a vegetative state, but rather, has “locked-in syndrome,” the same thing that the author of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly had. I can’t imagine anything harder, really. In case you didn’t read the story, Houben was in a car accident 23 years ago, suffered severe brain damage that was misdiagnosed as “nothin’s going on in there”, ala Terri Schiavo, when in fact, he has been fully conscious, having thoughts and emotions, but unable to express them.

Picture that. Living more than half your life, completely paralyzed, and unable to express yourself. Nothing worse, really.

It turns out that he can move one finger, so he’s writing a book. I know! If that doesn’t make me feel like a slacker. I’ll definitely read the book when it comes out. I suppose it will be the exact opposite of a travel book, which is when people go all over the world, interact with strangers, see new stuff, and write about it. This will be about not going anywhere or interacting with anyone for 23 years. Yikes. And I think I have nothing to write about. (Oh, maybe you’re thinking that too? Uh oh. I hate to bore my faithful readers!)

The other troubling thing? An expert indicated that about 40 percent of those who are diagnosed as being in a vegetative state actually have locked in syndrome. Maybe there’s a refresher course for those diagnosers. (Is that a real job, by the way? Sorting people like that? You, locked in. You, potato. And so on.)

I’m about to leap out of the huge bed at this sweet B&B that M. and I are visiting, lest I be confused with someone in a vegetative state. I think I hear the diagnoser at the door.


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