Posted by Slobokan @ 23:19 · 722 words · print
Doctors said that Marsi Tabak would remain in a persistent vegetative state for the rest of her life. With tireless dedication and a warehouse of faith, her husband proved them wrong.
As a young married couple, the Tabaks moved from New York to Israel 29 years ago. Yacov, a PhD chemist, made his mark in the field of industrial and corporate chemistry. And Marsi, a literary genius, rose to the top of the Jewish publishing world. As editor-in-chief of Feldheim Publishers, she was responsible for many of today's popular Jewish titles and could see the potential of a manuscript that had been relegated to the scrap-heap, fashioning it into a best-seller.
But all that changed on the morning of November 17, 1997. Marsi was feeling pain in her lower jaw, an indication, primarily with women, of stress on the heart. She went to rest until the pain subsided, but three minutes later, she was no longer breathing. Yacov found her without a pulse. He immediately began CPR and chest massage with one hand, calling an ambulance with the other. Twenty minutes and many electric shocks later, Marsi's pulse returned, "as if God grabbed the Angel of Death by the scruff of the neck and finally threw him out of the room," Yacov remembers. But severe neurological injury had already been sustained.
The neurologists didn't leave much room for hope. Although she appears to be awake, they said, she is actually in a persistent vegetative state (a "vegetable," in the vernacular). Anecdotal evidence of patients waking up after prolonged comas are, for them, just that — anecdotes, not subject to additional scientific evaluation. Marsi's situation was considered irreversible, the experts agreed, and advised the family to move her to a long-term care facility.
With PVS patients, the cortex, or outer layer of the brain which controls all motor functions, is severely damaged and shuts down. Autonomic functions such as heartbeat and breathing, and even some reflexive eye movements such as tracking objects and tearing, are controlled by the brain stem which is still intact. In the neurological fraternity, the debate continues as to whether the cortex can be regenerated. After contacting numerous families whose loved-ones were said to have miraculous recoveries, Yacov Tabak was firmly entrenched in the second position.
All the proof he needed came two days after Marsi opened her eyes for the first time. Shani Tabak, then 24, was at her mother's side, speaking to her heart. "Mom," she said, "you have to get better. I can't get married and stand under the chuppah without you."
And then Marsi began to cry.
"We believed that Marsi was with us, but she was in a state of total paralysis. To look at her, you would think she is in a coma; she is totally unreactive. The facial muscles don't respond. There is a vacant stare. But she can feel. Feelings are not part of the voluntary muscle system. They are automatic like breathing and digesting. But, in order to have feelings, one has to have cognition. In spite of the neurologists' agenda that propagates the idea that 'no one's home', it was obvious to me that in this case they were mistaken. I believe they make this dangerous mistake many times. I am in touch with many families, and I encourage all of them to look for some sign, however small, that there is cognition. I am sure Marsi is not an isolated case."
"When Marsi became ill, I cried several times a day. After a few months, it was once a day, and now I cry every few weeks. It helps relieve the tension. I have to constantly renew my resolve. But mostly, I rely on the Senior Partner. Without God's sustaining presence, I would fall apart. I have no ill-will toward those who have chosen differently, who keep their loved-ones institutionalized and visit them occasionally. To do what I did, you need a strong backbone and fearlessness in going against the medical tide, and most important, dedicated family members surrounding you. But if a person is willing to go that route, he should know one thing: the doctor doesn't have the last word.
Go read the entire story of Marsi Tabak, her miraculous recovery, and how she and her husband of over 30 years escorted their daughter to the chuppah.
[Hat Tip: Suitable For Mixed Company]
Posted In: Life
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