In Belgium recently, a man emerged from a coma lasting 23 years. And he remembered everything.
His doctors believed he was a vegetable, with no awareness. The man endured what others perceived as a vegetative state, fully conscious for all those years. He was trapped in his paralyzed body, unable to communicate or respond in any way.
Rom Houben, 46, had a car crash in 1983. His doctors thought he had sunk into a coma.
His mother, however, (and even the rest of his family), continued to believe that Rom Houben was conscious. His loved ones never gave up seeking new medical advice.
Finally, Rom's family found Professor Steven Laureys, of Belgium's Coma Science Group (CSG). The CSG team realized that the coma diagnosis was wrong.
Dr. Audrey Vanhaudenhuyse, a special therapist on Laureys' team, described how they were able to teach Houben how to communicate through a special keyboard.
Rom used the CSG device to tell a reporter for the German magazine Der Spiegel that: "I screamed but there was nothing to hear."
(Coma is defined as a state of unconsciousness in which the eyes are closed and the patient can't be roused, as if simply asleep. A vegetative state is defined as a condition in which the eyes are open and can move, and the patient has periods of sleep and periods of wakefulness, but remains unconscious and unaware of him or herself or others--- the patient can't think, reason, respond, do anything on purpose, chew or swallow.)
But Rom's parents would not accept that he was comatose or vegetative.
So, even a person in a coma can perhaps listen, think, reason, and remember?
But what about the rest of us? Will we listen? Will we hear?
We are all trapped in our bodies, like Rom. Many of us are overweight, or addicted to unhealthy foods, drugs like nicotine and alcohol or sugar. Yes, sugar is a drug.
And in the USA, the proposed health plan should address these VDH--- these Volunteer Disease Habits.
If Rom can do it, so can the rest of us.
Our bodies scream but we don't hear. We need to lose weight, we need to unaddict ourselves.
Anyone who is on a health plan should be helped to become healthier. More, they should be required to work hard for better health, and to give up their VDH.
And the Democrats, the politicians fighting for their health plan, should face these VDH issues now, before its too late to include them.
Even some key Republicans agree, like Sen Judd Gregg, R-N.H. He says, "There is significant savings and significant positives to encouraging people to live healthy lifestyles and reward people monetarily for doing it. That's just common sense and we should do it."
It's time for a healthier way of life, and maybe it will take President Obama's new health plan--- to make us all face the bad things we do to ourselves!
VDH. "Volunteer Disease Habits."
Nicotine addiction, food gluttony, alcohol abuse, and all the horrors of self-medication. Self-destructive behavior should never be ignored or even incentivized.
If Rom can do escape the trap of his damaged body, why can't the rest of us?
Belgian doctors (who had treated Rom early on) later claimed that Rom had gone from a coma into a vegetative condition. True or not, so many of us have lapsed into our own vegetative state of VDH, self-enabling our slide into cancer, heart disease, morbid obesity.
The new health plan in the USA, if it passes, would be a historic opportunity to confront VDH in all plan participants.
The USA can't afford millions of participants who live day to day indulging in health-damaging habits, with no seeming sense of responsibility either to their own bodies, or to the viability of their nation.
Like Senator Gregg said, "If you create a healthier work force by incentivizing healthy lifestyles, you reduce the overall cost of health care for everyone."