How to bring a coma patient back to consciousness? As we all know that before the surgery, the doctors administer anesthesia on the patient so that there is no pain or discomfort when the surgery is being performed. This, in simple terms, mean that the patient’s mind and body is numb/put to rest during the surgery. Once the surgery is completed, there is a specific time the doctors wait and then call out to the patient and coax him/her to come back to consciousness. This condition is called comatose state from which the patient has to return. It is believed that 10% patients have difficulty in returning to consciousness in time and 1% never come back. So how does one explain this? This is a subject that Dr. Katkar has done intensive research on and he presented case study of patients, who have gone through a surgery at some stage and their experiences. Mira, quoting the doctor, reveals the mystery and the return from the comatose state, a near-death experience (NDE)1 , exclusively in Different Truths.
On September 18, 2016, I had an invitation to attend a lecture by Dr. Narendra Katkar2 , PhD. (Hon), Neurophysicist. The topic did not sound very pleasant, but after attending the lecture, I realised that it was a very interesting subject, the comatose state. And in my opinion, everyone, whether young or old, should have some knowledge about it.
The subject was how to bring a coma patient back to consciousness? As we all know that before the surgery, the doctors administer anesthesia on the patient so that there is no pain or discomfort when the surgery is being performed. This, in simple terms, mean that the patient’s mind and body is numb/put to rest during the surgery. Once the surgery is completed, there is a specific time the doctors wait and then call out to the patient and coax him/her to come back to consciousness. This condition is called comatose state from which the patient has to return.
It is believed that 10% patients have difficulty in returning to consciousness in time and 1% never come back. So how does one explain this? This is a subject that Dr. Katkar has done intensive research on and he presented case study of patients, who have gone through a surgery at some stage and their experiences. His research work has been published by the International Medical Science journal, which is downloaded and applauded by several scientists and doctors, all over the world.
During his lecture Dr. Katkar showed a documentary video made by BBC, wherein a patient was brought to Arizona Hospital with a condition called Aneurysm. This condition is a permanent dilation of an artery in the brain, which is an abnormal enlargement in blood canal. The operating surgeon was Dr. Robert Spetzler. Normal pre-operation procedure was conducted and anesthesia administered on the patient. The operation lasted a couple of hours and finally the surgery was complete but there was still one last process to be performed. Without applying this procedure, the surgery would not have been completed. This final process was the tricky task of bringing the patient back to consciousness. After an average amount of effort, the patient fortunately came back to consciousness. The doctor and his team were relieved that they had now completed their task successfully.
With the passage of time, the recovery of the patient was getting better. She was out of the ICU and into the ward. The patient was allowed to have visitors so the family and friends showed up one after another. It was a week now since the surgery and time for the patient to leave the hospital to return home. Normally before the patient leaves, a one to one chat between the patient and the doctor is carried out. The doctor tells the patient of his experience and likewise the patient also expresses his/her feelings. The patient was listening to the doctor very patiently and was delighted to hear that the surgery went on very smoothly without any complications.
Now, it was time for the patient to share her experience with the doctor, if any, and therefore, she started narrating what she had been through. The first thing she said was that she could not feel anything. Her body was completely numb but she could constantly hear a very irritating drilling sound like the one in a dental clinic. It was so annoying that she had a strong urge to escape from there, which she did and the next thing she felt was so peaceful and pleasant that the drilling noise seem to have disappeared. She felt like a glowing light that was travelling in space. She also remembered looking over the doctor’s shoulder and witnessed what they were doing. She told the doctor that she saw him with an instrument which looked like a saw. “You were cutting my skull with the saw but it was funny that I didn’t feel any pain.” I was somehow enjoying my trip out of the body. The patient’s experience left the doctor shocked and baffled. He didn’t know what to think of the incident she had experienced.
The patient also confessed having had a conversation with her uncle, who died some years ago. He told the patient to go back as her kids miss her very much and needed her. But she was not ready to go back as she was enjoying being in that state. While she was pondering over her uncle’s suggestion, there was a very loud noise and the next thing she realised was that she was on the operation table and a couple of masked faces were looking over her.
In another case, Dr. Katkar stated that a female patient, who had been through a minor abdominal surgery did not come back to senses for quite a while (beyond the specified time). The Surgeons got worried and started analyzing as to what could have gone wrong. After a long wait, eventually the patient regained consciousness. Later, when the concluding procedures were followed, the patient was questioned if she could hear the doctor calling out to her but she denied having heard any one calling out.
She said she was enjoying being in an atmosphere where it was so peaceful but suddenly the thought of her son got her thinking. She wanted to be with her son. Probably this memory was the reason she came back to consciousness.
Another case Dr. Katkar narrated was again of a female patient from Hyderabad, India, who was administered general anesthesia for an orthopedic surgery. The patient did not regain consciousness within the specified time, which was between 30 seconds to one minute. The team in the operation theatre had started panicking. It was almost at a point the doctors had given up, when the patient regained consciousness. It was a very long wait and this case would have been declared as “untimely death.”
In this case also, the patient described that she was in a very peaceful state and did not want to return. She was watching the surgeon and his team performing the surgery and then talking to one another. She also narrated the exact words they exchanged. While she was enjoying her newly acquired state, she suddenly thought she must tell her husband about the beautiful experience she is going through. The minute she remembered her husband with a desire to narrate her unconscious state, she came back to senses.
To justify the patient’s experience, Dr. Spetzler stated that this is something beyond science, which is absolutely unexplainable. Dr. Katkar, on the other hand, explains that when the body is inactive due to anesthesia, active consciousness can’t function in a body that is clinically dead and, therefore, consciousness normally comes out of the body and experiences different things and incidents until it returns to the body.
He also adds that if the patient does not gain consciousness within a specified time, the patient’s family, who knows her/him well, should try to relate some incidents like old memories, which are found to be very useful in bringing the coma patient back to consciousness. In brief, the science behind a patient in coma coming back to life is by activating intimate memory of the patient, which can be any memory held since childhood. The verbal commands by doctors in the operation room do not relate and activate the personal intimate memory, which is normally developed since childhood by the patient.
Dr. Katkar has also mentioned in his research that it is necessary to conduct monitoring through Encephalography during the surgery to detect brain’s electric activity. It has been observed that this is mostly missing in the ICU and sometimes in the operation theatre as well.
In some cases, National Health Service (NHS), in the UK, proposes a treatment called sensory stimulation, which is an attempt to increase responsiveness. This involves stimulating the main senses, such as vision, hearing and smell. For example, a person’s favorite song may be played to stimulate their hearing In case of anesthesia sedation, it appears that the anesthetic application “freezes” large quantity of molecular composition of brain matter by bringing downs the atoms of the molecules to ‘Ground State’. Hence, no energetic activity can be observed. As a result of this, the individual is supposed to be in total suspension of consciousness, deep sleep or induced coma.
In his report, Dr.Katkar asserts that this method of bringing a patient back from comatose state is not only for the medical professionals but mostly for the patient’s family/relatives. The hospital authorities should, however, apply this method if and when required by allowing the close family and friends to use audio/audio visual stimulation when the patient is in non-responsive condition of coma or vegetative condition. The personal phone/mobile ring tone could also be very useful in this case. To conclude his theory Dr. Katkar tells that this method can be considered as an innovative non-invasive procedure, which is externally induced and could be considered as Scientific Intervention of Natural Life Sciences.
1 A near-death experience (NDE) is a personal experience associated with death or impending death. Such experiences may encompass a variety of sensations including detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, total serenity, security, warmth, the experience of absolute dissolution, and the presence of a light. Neuroscience research suggests that an NDE is a subjective phenomenon resulting from “disturbed bodily multisensory integration” that occurs during life-threatening events. NDEs are a recognised part of some transcendental and religious beliefs in an afterlife. (Source: Wiki).
2 Dr. Katkar resides in Hastinapur, Sainikpuri Area, Secunderabad, Telengana, India
Photos from the internet.
Mira Pawar is a freelance writer with an extensive writing experience. She worked for Gulf News Paper, Dubai; freelanced for Khaleej Times, Dubai; N Magazine from Hyderabad, India; Hans India News Paper, Hyderabad, India. She has contributed to the Chicken Soup Series and has also written for a book called ‘How the Phoenix