A Stroke Patient’s Musical Journey From Coma to Recovery


(The Buffalo News) – The pain in Thomas Witakowski’s head hit crushingly hard and fast. He struggled to slide to the floor from his bed, dial an ambulance, and crawl to the front door that he opened a crack for paramedics.

An abnormality on a blood vessel had burst in the back of his brain, spurting blood like an open spigot into the space between the skull. Witakowski was having a stroke and hanging on the edge of death.

The last thing he remembers after getting rushed from his Kaisertown home into the Mercy Hospital emergency room is a feeling of overwhelming agony and hearing someone say, “OK. That’s it. Let’s go.” Then he lost consciousness.

Witakowski wouldn’t wake up from a coma for more than a month. When he did, it would be to the sound of music.

He underwent a sophisticated neurosurgical procedure to stop the bleeding in his brain. But it was music that helped lead him out of a long darkness. CONTINUE