AVM Survivors Network

Out of a Coma


Just wondering if anyone else can share this experience of mine: I spent 11 days in a coma when my AVM bled, and then I was woken up. I was in CHEO in Ottawa, very close to the Quebec border, and while I had taken French as a second language classes for just over a year in school (grade 4 to early grade 5), I spent my first full day out of the coma speaking nothing but French! English is my native tongue, though, but I would only speak French to anyone in the room, only reverting to English when someone needed a translation.

The doctors said they had heard of things like that happening but had never seen it before… did anything like that happen to someone else on here??


Well, kinda, I watched myself flat line and woke up 3 days later, when I did the first thing I saw was a priest, and he was asking, were did you go? what did you see? is it real?? who were you talking to?? very confused I ask what’s going on? I was told that I was resiting full books of genisis, Mathew, job,and revelation while describing the kindom of God, this is exstrodinary because I wasn’t raised with the Bible,. never experienced it, and was not taught to be a beleaver, needless to say, I am now, that was 30 years ago, to this day as hard as I have tryed , i can not replicate what I experienced, and it is overwhelmingly emotional to talk about,


Oliver Sacks wrote a book “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat” which is a fascinating, possibly frightening, but very human book about some of the patients that he had the good fortune to meet and understand. It explores or illustrates a number of different dimensions of neurological “effects”, e.g. deficits, excesses and the like. I have in my mind that one of the stories in there involved language, so to a great extent I am not surprised.

The brain has very specific areas for very specific actions and failure or impact on one of those areas causes an effect on that very specific activity. For example, the eponymous Man had a visual agnosia which meant that he failed to assemble the visual information that he could see perfectly well into an abstracted idea. When he saw a glove, he described it once as an object with five “out-pouchings” without being able to recognize that it would perfectly fit his hand and was clearly a glove.

It would not surprise me at all to find that language is treated in one place but that second or third languages are slightly differently stored and if there is interference going on in the first language area, your brain resorted to that other area to find the words.

Completely fascinating. I’d also say that Oliver Sacks’ book is also completely fascinating but potentially a bit scary for those of us with a little danger lurking in our heads.



Have a small funny one that is sort of like yours. I don’t remember it but the docks kept it in there journals and every time I go see my neurologist he smiles and jokes about it because he was there. On with the story. After having a rely big sezuire back in 2002 cause was I caught viral meningitis. I woke in the emergency room withe doctors and nurses all around. Funny part was the room was completely red the nurses and doctors were dressed in a yellow ER suits purple gloves red cap and mask is what the dock told me. The ER doctor then asks me do you know where you are. They said I looked around the room for a second then back at him then replied well I no one thing this shore ain’t heaven. Then most everyone laughed a little bit. I was 12 years old at the time.


Yes, that is a good one, pretty smart for 12 years old, thanks for making
me laugh and smile at the same time,nice to have you back on the good
side, lol


Although a lot of strange things happened while I was out, my language skills remained unchanged. However, a girl I know told me her father was diagnosed with dementia and was eventually put in a care home as it worsened. He started speaking only French and wouldn’t answer anyone who spoke English to him. To the best of her knowledge he had never had any exposure to French. Isn’t the brain a fascinating thing?


Do you know, I think that is the same story as in Oliver Sacks’ book… the person was speaking a language nobody believed they knew. It is amazing, isn’t it?


love that book!


@Hermione711 I was in a coma for 5 days after an unrelated rare stroke. I woke up and thought I was in Maui cause of my experience in the coma I was in a dark place and some big doors opened and I could feel the sunlight and I kept trying to go into the sunlight it looked like Maui to me like one of the cementaries -
Anyway I thought it must of been real and that it happened when the transferred me to Stanford which I am very familiar with as I had to take my grandma there all time. So I know they just have sequioas no Palm Trees.
Anyway after my first angio/embolism I had a stroke and I could not talk which my husband knew was my fear…so I was in so much pain I was making my hands bleed clutching my hands so I thought maybe someone knows sign languange. So I started signing I need meds…so they got my husband and he said I dont know sign lauguange and I f" did not know she knows it…so he got a paper and pen and I was writing in both french and english but I had taking french in High School and college and thankfully so did my husband. I had taught myself sign language and french in 7 and 8th grade and I guess it triggered something from that time.

Now I know the sign for pain which is like twisting a towel -

Were you able to hear the people around you when you were in a coma? I was able to hear my family and knew who was there. but they left the news on constantly so I thought I was impacted by the Japan earth quake which we were supposed to be there but had cancelled cause we were going to go with my parents to Italy for 3 weeks in the summer

So glad you came out of it. Maybe you should take french!



Because the bleed affected my short-term memory loss, I have no memory of being in the coma, but I am told that I got extremely agitated when an aunt of mine (who had bullied me a lot, actually, the year leading up to my bleed) was in the room.

And actually, this moment (along with an awesome French teacher in grade 4, who I have always wanted to impress) was the reason I continued taking French as a second language all through high school (although I was the only student in my tiny little high school, so I was bunched with the grade 10’s and 11’s in my grade 12 year!!).

Oh, my mom played the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire soundtrack for me in the coma… I don’t remember hearing it, but I imagine it was comforting!!


@Hermione711 Interesting about your reaction when in the coma to the person you did not like.
So glad your family played soundtracks that you would like. Now my family knows not to have the news on.
One of my room mates when I was in a coma had bladder cancer his name was Brian and his sister was Mary. They had taken him one day for more tests and when he was out of the room I over heard the nurses saying his cancer had spread and he was terminal- so I thought to myself I must be in the terminal section of the hospital. And later when I awoke and could speak my husband was amazed that I heard and retained so much given my short term memory was shot.

One of my good friends brother was killed when he was chasing some men who had robbed a store he was a police man. But he was in a coma and when my friend James heard me talk about how I could hear in a coma he cried cause he said he did not talk to his brother when he was in a coma before he died. I said trust me he knew you were there. When one sense is down our other senses compensate for them.
Thanks for sharing your story


It’s amazing what we do (and don’t) remember. My parents knew how much I wanted out of the hospital (I have had a severe phobia of doctors, hospitals, and needles my whole life), so my dad made up a couple of “escape plans” for me and I was able to recite them perfectly, because it was important to me.


@Hermione711 What amazing parents you have! I am so glad you made it out of the coma -
I dont think anyone likes the hospitals. After everything I have been through and then my sister 2 years later got necrotizing fascitis the flesh eating virus and almost died and then there were a few mistakes at the hospital we all have PTSD from it.

So I go into hyper drive and never want to leave the person in the hospital and I double check everything and usually end up pissing off the doctors. But I always give presents to the nurses. My sister always waits too long to get her skin issues checked out so ends up with MRSA and being hospitalized.

I like your dad having escape plans!