"I screamed, but there was nothing to hear."
That chilling quote comes about half-way through a Guardian story today about Rom Houben, who for 23 years was thought to be in a vegetative state, but in fact was conscious — though he could not communicate.
Houben, now 46, is being cared for near Brussels. In 1983, he was in a car accident that left him paralyzed and unresponsive. Doctors thought, as Sky News explains, that he was in a coma.
In reality, Houben was conscious and could hear what was being said by those around him. It wasn't until recent years, however, that doctors used state-of-the-art imaging equipment to determine that his brain was active. Now, after several years of therapy, Houben can tap out messages on a computer with is right hand — which has limited movement.
What was it like all those years?
"All that time I literally dreamed of a better life," Houben tells Sky News. "Frustration is too small a word to describe what I felt. I shall never forget the day when they discovered what was truly wrong with me — it was my second birth."