Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

Fifteen years ago, Terri Schiavo's fate was nothing more than a great Sci-Fi concept brewing in the minds of Rod Serling and Dalton Trumbo. Edgar Allan Poe was considered macabre for pondering the idea of being buried alive. Face it, this sort of horror story is what you expect to find printed among Metallica song lyrics - not the front page of a civilized country's newspaper.

But this once unthinkable storyline has escaped the pages of yesterday's novel and become a reality. World Magazine has just printed an article this week entitled, "Don't Let Me Starve." The article is about Kate Adamson, a recovered stroke victim who survived a fate similar to Terri Shciavo's. It is a chilling article.

A decade ago, Mrs. Adamson, then 33, suffered a double brain stem stroke that left her completely paralyzed, unable even to blink. Inside though, she was fully cognitive, able to understand doctors telling her husband she would either die or wind up "a vegetable." She wanted to, but couldn't, scream out when "people talked about me as if I wasn't a person, as if I didn't exist. . . . It was like being trapped underground and you're praying that somebody is going to be able to find you.

During 70 days of intensive care, doctors fed Mrs. Adamson through a tube. Then her digestive system failed, forcing them to remove the tube until her body could again eliminate waste. For the next eight days, she learned what it feels like to starve.

Unable to communicate, she remembers the terror of being "on the inside screaming out, 'Feed me something! I don't want to die! . . . I'm alive! I'm a person in here! Do not let me starve!' The hunger pains were unbearable," she said. "I thought I was going insane."

On the ninth day, doctors reinserted her tube. Now at age 43, Ms. Adamson has regained most of her physical abilities and become an advocate for the disabled.

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