5 Coma Patients Who Woke Up With Insane New Skills
I've never been in a coma before, and I feel this is significant because I have actually seen the movie Divergent but managed to stay fully conscious for the whole experience and afterward, which I don't think is entirely common. That said, I also don't know a lot about comas except that they're super convenient plot devices for poorly written TV shows and that Uma Thurman woke up from one and then proceeded to kill Bill plus all kinds of other people.
For the most part, coming out of a coma after an extended period of time is considered pretty miraculous, and while I don't want to take that away from any coma patients and their families, I found out that your brain can do some awesome stuff when you're shut down for an extended period of time, like it gets bored because your body went out of business and just starts fucking around and then gets caught with its pants down when you wake up and suddenly you speak a new language. If waking up is impressive, waking up with new language skills is super impressive. And that's not even all that can happen! There's a whole menagerie of nuttiness that can go on in your noggin when you're out like a light. Just look!
Cheese And Cussing
I wanted to love this story the way a parent loves a child, but now I can only love it the way a TLC executive loves a client, which is to say with malice and an eye toward unwholesome exploitation, and that's solely because I am unable to source this to anything beyond The Daily Mail, which basically means some Englishman probably thought this up while drinking hard cider on a toilet at 5 a.m.
Pictured: The average Daily Mail editorial meeting.
There's a chance the story is legit; I mean, there really was a boy who had a brain bleed and went into a coma. This site does a great job of exploring that story about him and his family, but they never mention cheese.
So let's assume that our drunken toilet scribe from The Daily Mail actually picked up on a legit tidbit about this story and exploded it into a much larger and less relevant story than how this boy survived a traumatic event. It could have happened. Maybe. And what could have happened was this: After 15-year-old Kai Thomas suffered a brain bleed, doctors put him in a medically induced coma. When he woke up, he had lost his ability to speak for a time, and then, inexplicably, when he'd remastered it he also mastered the art of cheese worship and swearing.
According to the Mail story, Kai would just go on cussing and cheese benders, something usually reserved for only the most dour of dairy farmers after their milkmaids leave them for handsome, young yogurt barons. His mother was noticing cheese missing with nary a mouse in sight, and he could be heard in his room screaming things like, "F***, b******, s***." That's a direct quote right there and may, in fact, mean he was heard to say, "Flop baboon stew." That's Gaulish for "fuck bastard shit," which, if you recall your Gaulish history, was the war cry of Vercingetorix. Best damn war cry in history.
Vercingetorix was the Arverni chieftain at the oppidum Bibracte. None of these words are made up.
All things being equal, the mouth of a stevedore and the appetites of Timer from Schoolhouse Rock are probably some of the least awful side effects one could end up with after a brain injury and a coma, so really everyone should be pretty happy.
They say Mandarin is one of the hardest languages in the world to learn, but all those Chinese toddlers who are burbling out stories about puppies might have a thing or two to say to you about it. In Mandarin. So you won't understand. That being said, back in 2014, Ben McMahon, an Aussie who was not fluent in toddler Mandarin or any other form of the language, awoke from a coma after a serious car accident able to write and speak in Mandarin.
It is entirely possible that this is just the Aussie news' racist way of saying he was speaking gibberish.
McMahon had taken Mandarin in high school but had never kept up with the language and really couldn't speak it at all. After his accident, he spoke it so well that native speakers have pointed out he's the best non-native speaker they've ever heard. After his abilities to speak English returned, his skill in Mandarin remained, so he put it to use studying in Shanghai, hosting a Chinese-language television show, and offering Mandarin tours of Melbourne.
Basically, the coma turned McMahon into the X-Man Cypher, a somewhat obscure hero who has one of the most useless powers in the superhero universe but arguably one of the coolest powers to have in real life: the ability to instantly pick up another language. Of course, it only worked that one time, unless McMahon is holding out on us and speaks every language suddenly, but that's probably not the case. Still, picking up a language while you're riding a hospital bed is pretty badass.
Better than picking up a superbug, which just grants you the power to die.
So how does a guy who barely understood Mandarin in high school become fluent while being totally unconscious? His doctor offered the super scientific explanation that his "English circuits got cut" so his Mandarin ones took over. That man performed surgery on him!
I'm so sorry that this is another story that came from the Daily Mail, which is like asking a chimp if it's seen anything newsworthy and hoping that some of the shit it slings at you is filled with nuggets of interest rather than nuggets of what I'd normally say should be corn, but I can't imagine monkeys eat corn. Do they? Any zookeepers out there? Would a chimp have any kind of nuggets, besides nuggets of interest, in its stool? Something for us all to Google later on, hmm?
Nope, gonna look now.
Despite this being a Daily Mail story, I can say for sure it's based on real events, because I totally researched that shit. I'm like Vondie Curtis-Hall in Daredevil up in this bitch. Only if Vincent D'Onofrio murders me, I want you to tell people that Vincent D'Onofrio murdered me. And if I get murdered but you don't know who did it, please go check with Vincent D'Onofrio first. Oh, spoiler. Sorry.
Anyway, Rory Curtis was in a pretty bad car accident back in 2012 when his van flipped over and five more cars slammed into it. The resulting trauma left him in a coma for six days, after which he woke up completely fluent in French, a language he hadn't spoken in years and had only taken in high school because he was forced to.
He may have also just been super handsome.
At this point we have a slightly less impressive version of our friend who learned how to speak Mandarin because, no offense French, but you're no Mandarin. Somewhat more awesome, however, is that Curtis also thought he was Hollywood Bohemian Matthew McConaughey.
Now, most of us have probably imagined what life is like as Matthew McConaughey at one time or another -- would you smell like musk all the time or just in the evenings? Do you eat things while they're still alive? Do you kill people because you're freeing them from mortal concerns, or do you just play them bongo solos and take them on peyote trips to ethereal dimensions of the mind? Curtis was just convinced he was McConaughey and was in need of getting out of the hospital so he could get back to his schedule of making films. And since this was back in 2012, there's a chance he was eager to go out and star in Magic Mike.
Science is a big fat let down and will remain so until the day we have robot servants, jet packs, and time-travel booths on every corner. We're so far from practical time-travel, in fact, that the closest anyone has gotten to it so far was when Candace Emptage got into a brutal car cash back in 2010 that put her in a coma for six weeks. When she finally woke up, she had no memory of the recent past or even the near recent past. In fact, Candace, who was almost 40, was pretty sure she was still 22. She didn't remember her own 15-year-old daughter but was disappointed to find out the Spice Girls had split up.
"Well, as long as Hanson is still rocking out, I think I can manage."
Emptage basically awoke from her coma living in the early 1990s. She didn't remember the boyfriend of six years who left her soon after or any event prior to the accident. Complicating matters further is that she has been barely able to regain any of those lost years. In time she was able to regain a few memories of her daughter as a baby, but nothing of her growing up beyond that.
Since her accident, she's undergone therapy for speech and physiotherapy and she even got her driver's license again, because you don't let a car crash wiping 20 years of your life clean out of your brain stop you from driving to 7-Eleven to get a Slurpee at 1 a.m. if you really need one. I mean, Slurpees -- they're awesome, right?
After a goddamn coma, possible brain freeze seems rather trivial.
Emptage still lives with her daughter and has a good relationship with her, but they've basically had to learn about each other as new people, which has to be equally terrifying for both, because what 22-year-old is prepared to have a 15-year-old daughter, and what 15-year-old can even fathom having a mom who just hit prime Spring Break age in her own mind?
No one wants to ever be injured in such a way that they end up in a coma, but if it did happen, what do you figure the best side effect of such trauma would be, assuming you had to suffer some side effects? Those language skills sound pretty cool, but if you're a 16-year-old boy or someone with the mind of one, you'll probably think this one is the best -- a little bit of the ol' nymphomania. Yes, nothing puts a cherry on top of traumatic brain injuries quite like the insatiable urge to mount every member of the opposite sex you can find, especially when you're also totally unable to understand why anyone else would think it was inappropriate. And that "anyone else" includes the person you're married to.
"You're the weird one for not banging our neighbors!"
As it happens, Heather Howland suffered a brain hemorrhage and ended up in a coma. Doctors had such little hope for her recovery that they told her husband of 15 years to prepare for the worst, and he signed consent forms to have her unplugged from the machines that would keep her alive but in a vegetative state. But then, because the universe likes to dick with people, Heather pulled off a miraculous recovery and awoke from her coma, only now she wanted the D and she wanted it all the time.
The couple have figured that Heather has cheated on her husband at least 50 times -- maybe not always full-on sex but probably at least a little rub and tug here and there. Before the incident, Heather had never even been with another man, never even kissed another man, and had been one of those almost-too-adorable church ladies who bakes brownies and raises funds for kids with club feet. After, she became the sort of woman who tries to drag delivery boys into public restrooms to bang them like low-budget bongos in the hands of a hyperactive toddler.
Or like her breasts in the hands of accosted pizza boys.
The day she awoke from the coma, she asked her husband to help her use the hospital washroom. He soon found out all she needed him for was a quick ride and, being her husband, he wasn't about to complain -- he thought it was one of those celebratory "I just got out of a coma" humps we all hear about. And for three months he kept on helping her with all her needs, most of which were sexual.
When the day came when Heather finally felt well enough to leave the house for the very first time, her husband watched her as she crossed the street, waved to him, walked over to a house under construction and started chatting up a construction worker before entering the house with him and closing the door. Her husband watched a moment longer in confusion until he could make out two figures kissing on the other side of a frosted-glass window, then went over, punched the dude out, and took his wife home.
Which is really the worst possible turn of events for someone who's about to get laid.
The problem has never gone away. Their method of treatment has been medication -- Heather takes a few different pills known to have an effect on libido, and so far it seems to be working. Her husband is grateful, since, as cool as it might sound to have a super horned-up wife, the fact that she's tried to do all of his friends, some of whom took her up on the offer, and that she could come home with a disease or pregnant since she's not at all concerned about safety are pretty serious downsides.
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