Two days after regaining consciousness from a massive stroke, Richard Marsh watched helplessly from his hospital bed as doctors asked his wife, Lili, whether they should turn off his life support machine.
Marsh, a former police officer and teacher, had strong views on that suggestion. The 60-year-old didn’t want to die. He wanted the ventilator to stay on. He was determined to walk out of the intensive care unit and he wanted everyone to know it.
But Marsh couldn’t tell anyone that. The medics believed he was in a persistent vegetative state, devoid of mental consciousness or physical feeling.
Nothing could have been further from the truth. Marsh was aware, alert and fully able to feel every touch to his body.
“I had full cognitive and physical awareness,” he said. “But an almost complete paralysis of nearly all the voluntary muscles in my body.”