(National Post) – There was a small band playing at the Dr. Cooke Extended Care Centre’s annual Christmas party this year, and tables laden with shortbread and popcorn curls and Christmas cookies.
On one side of the room sat Jeffrey Tremblay and his father, Paul. Jeff has lived at the Lloydminster facility since he was 19 years old. He turns 41 this week.
Jeff can’t move or speak. He has to be tube-fed through his stomach. He’s aware of what’s going on, Paul says, which is remarkable given doctors wrote Jeff off as being trapped in a vegetative state for 16 years.
Only Jeff wasn’t vegetative. Roughly 20 per cent of people like Jeff who are assumed to be totally unconscious — no idea of who they are or where they are, unable to exhibit any “willful behaviour” — are actually aware, lingering undetected somewhere in a state between life and nothingness.
New guidelines could help in the search to find them. CONTINUE