This story is about Jim (not his real name), who had a night-life and then disappeared into what we thought was going to be a life of darkness. When I got involved with Jim as a patient he had been in a coma for around two months. None of the tests showed why. We thought it might have been a bad stroke. He ended up being in the coma for around 18 months. At one point the nurses had the sense that he was more alert. His eyes had been opening on and off for a few weeks before he finally started responding to commands. That’s very unusual for someone in a coma for over a year. Then one day when a nurse asked him, “Do you have pain?” he said, “Yes.” One doctor said, “It’s a miracle,” and it really is. Jim is slowly getting back to normal. He continues rehab so he can walk and talk properly. He’s in his 40s. He played guitar in a rock band. I asked him where he played and he said, “Everywhere in Chicago.” His friends from the band visited and brought him his guitar. We hope he’ll eventually be well enough to go home to his family. I asked him what it was like to be in a coma and he said without hesitation, “Like hell.”

–Dr. Dominic Gaziano, internist