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Friday, August 05, 2005

Sarah Scantlin's Return From the Darkness.
Recalls Memories of her Coma. What She Heard.

God Sent Her Back!

Sarah Details Her 20-Year Coma

Sarah was hit by a car- A drunk Driver in 1984 -She died, she went into a coma. For 17 years she layed there. Silently staring. The one day she started screaming. It was joyful noise as loud as it was for her caretakers.

The boy who hit her had also been in a coma. His story is just as heartwrenching. Although finally coming out of it and having to endure years of physical therapy, he was left blind in one eye. Suffering the Stigma of being different, his so called friends called him names, like "retard", his lonliness got the better of him. He went out drinking, he got behind the wheel and lost control of his car. Plowing right into Sarah and her friends as they walked down the road. Sarah didn't get out of the way, she was hit and thrown into the path of another vehicle, striking her head. She Stopped Breathing. She was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, trauma to her chest and an amputated finger. She had to have a lobotomy on the part of the brain that governs speech.

Her mother, Betsy spent days sitting with Sarah, holding up Sarah's head. "Before she opened her eyes, she didn't move a muscle, except to yawn," says Betsy. "When she opened her eyes, there was a blank stare for three months."

By the time Sarah was moved to a nursing home, on April 11, 1985, a physical therapist wrote in her discharge summary: "Patient is awake and alert. She reacts to painful stimuli. No consistent communication has been established, although we have worked on an eye-blink system: one blink-yes, two blinks-no."

The Day in and out Grind took it's toll on her family, who sold everything. Eventually moving out of state then back.

One day the screaming stopped and the words began, "okaaaaaay". Her therapist and caregivers began aggressive therapy. 3 months later her mother got a phone call, "Hi Mom". It was Sarah.

"At that point, 20 years dissolved," Betsy says. "Like I had seen her the night before. . . . I said, 'Is that you, Sarah?' "

" 'Yeah.'

" 'What you been doing?'

"Dad said, 'Who are you talking to?'

"I said, 'Sarah.' "

Betsy passed the phone to James.

"She said, 'Hi, Dad.' "

Betsy asked whether Sarah needed anything.

"More makeup," Sarah said.

Sarah thought she was still 18. But insisted she was 22 when her brother told her she was really 38.

Although they don't like to compare Sarah to Terri Schindler, and even distance themselves from the Schindlers with the statement being, "Terri was only comatose for a month, and was PVS..." I need to say, had Terri had the Therapy afforded Sarah by her caregivers without fear of being fired or arrested Terri would be a communicative person today. PVS is nothing more then a Drs. label to signaify they cannot reach the comatose patient within the shell. Just as Fibromyalgia is a Drs. way of saying your ill but we know not why, so to for the label of PVS!

"It is really the miracle that every parent or brother in this situation looks for," said Sarah's doctor, Lisa McPeak, director of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Kansas Hospital.

As to what actually occurred, the doctor says, medicine cannot explain. "The reason it is difficult to say is there are so few cases of this no one has ever really looked at it. . . . It just seems she was able to finally put together a communication system that was effective. Whether there was neural growth, which is unusual, or she learned to use channels already there in an efficient way, or whether she developed a new channel of electrical or neural hormonal flow in her brain, I can't answer."


Her mother asked if she was aware of 9/11.

"I said, do you know about New York? She said, 'Yeah.' She said, 'Airplanes. Buildings. Smoke.' I said, 'Anything else?' She said, 'No.' I said, 'Do you know about Oklahoma City?' She said, 'Children. Hospitals.' "

People assumed she knew about them because her television was on, imprinting images in her brain.

Betsy asked Sarah what it was like, being locked in.

"I said, Sarah, were you scared? She said, 'No. Frustrated.' "

"She remembers the accident," her father recalls. "She says, 'Yes, hit by a car.' She says, 'I could have left.' "

Left the road to avoid being hit? Her father thinks she means left as in died.

A friend from high school, Lori, asked, "Why didn't you?"

Her father interprets Sarah's answer as: "I wanted to stay and talk to the people I loved."

Sarah has had to endure more surgery to help unfurl her limbs. Although She is home now, not the home she grew up in-( its a Highway now), she still isn't walking. However her Dr. and her Father feel it is just a matter of time. She is however eating real food like French Fries and Catsup.

My own Special Thank You to Pat, the Woman who knew Sarah was there, who Reached into the dark world and pulled her out with GODs help.

If you would like to help the Scantlins With their expense a fund has been setup:

Scantlin Rehabilitation Support Fund

c/o Arvest Bank

PO Box 1327

Fayetteville, AR 72702

You can also send Sarah an Email of Encouragement to:sarahscantlin@hotmail.com

Snail Mail: send Sarah a card / letter to 1202 E 23rd Hutchinson, KS 67502

Sarahs website
WaPo Article