“I screamed, but there was nothing to hear”: Man trapped in 23-year ‘coma’ reveals horror of being unable to tell doctors he was conscious
Conscious but unable to communicate for 23 years after a car accident that was thought to have put him into a deep coma, a quadriplegic Belgianman has described how medical science finally put an end to his agonizing years of silence.
Now able to make himself understood via a computer and specially built keyboard, the man, Rom Houben, said in the Monday issue of the German magazine Der Spiegel that when doctors made the correct diagnosis, it was like starting a second life.
“I shall never forget the day when they discovered what was truly wrong with me — it was my second birth,” Mr. Houben, now 46, was quoted as saying.
Mr. Houben, who was an engineering student at the time of the accident, lives in a care home near Brussels. He was assumed to be in a persistent vegetative state until three years ago, when the breakthrough was made.
In the interview he recalled the aftermath of the car accident that paralyzed him and the realization that no one understood that he was fully conscious.
“I screamed, but there was nothing to hear,” he said. He added that he then became a witness to his own suffering as doctors and nurses tried to speak with him until they gave up all hope.