COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A woman who went into a vegetative state in November of 2000 awoke this week for three days, spoke with her family and a local television station before slipping back on Wednesday.
"I'm fine," Christa Lilly told her mother on Sunday — her first words in eight months. She has awakened four other times for briefer periods after a heart attack and stroke left her in a semiconscious state.
"I think it's wonderful. It makes me so happy," Lilly told television station KKTV-TV. She also got to see youngest daughter, Chelcey, now 12 years old, and three grandchildren.
Before her relapse, Lilly told the station her biggest frustration was learning how to talk again.
After years of being fed from a tube, eating was no problem. "I've been eating cake," she said.
Her neurologist, Dr. Randall Bjork, said he couldn't explain how or why she awoke.
"I'm just not able to explain this on the basis of what we know about persistent vegetative states," he said.
A vegetative state is much like a coma except Lilly's eyes remain open. Bjork said that he's never seen a similar quality of awakening.
Bjork said that unlike the much publicized case of Terry Schiavo, Lilly is minimally conscious. He said she could awake again.
After Lilly relapsed her mother and caregiver Minnie Smith said: "The good Lord let me know she's alright, he brings her back to visit every so often and I'm thankful for that."