Tales from grey zone be­tween life and death

Pretoria News - - METRO - INTO THE GREY ZONE Adrian Owen Loot.co.za (R187) FABER Daily Mail

oc­ca­sional drink by the sheer pres­sure that is put on Korean chil­dren. If you can imag­ine what giv­ing an English class to stu­dents close to mid­night is like, then you will have some of the pic­ture painted by Cronje.

There are ob­vi­ously happy mo­ments; she meets Dae-ho, who teaches med­i­ta­tion and forms a strong bond with Cronje. She also has to learn how to say good­bye when she re­turns to South Africa.

And re­turn­ing is not easy; Cronje is bru­tally hon­est about the strug­gles she faces when she finds that her son has made some dodgy friends, there is a hi­lar­i­ous sub-story about her try­ing to buy a car from one of them – funny to read, but no doubt not funny at the time.

This is a book about be­ing brave and tena­cious, but told with Cronje’s wit and some­times bru­tal sar­casm. It’s also about rein­te­gra­tion and fall­ing apart. A bril­liant book. ONE day in 1997, a col­league of Dr Adrian Owen at Ad­den­brooke’s Hospi­tal, Cam­bridge, told him of the dis­tress­ing case of Kate, a 26-year-old nurs­ery school teacher.

She had caught a bad cold, which turned into a much more se­ri­ous vi­ral con­di­tion that left her in an ap­par­ently veg­e­ta­tive state. But a PET scan of Kate’s brain showed her re­spond­ing to stim­uli as though she were healthy.

Even­tu­ally, she re­cov­ered suf­fi­ciently to de­scribe her ex­pe­ri­ences in the “grey zone” of con­scious­ness be­tween life and death.

Dr Owen’s re­search into veg­e­ta­tive pa­tients con­vinced him con­scious­ness can sur­vive – even in pa­tients who seem en­tirely un­re­spon­sive.

One day, he pre­dicts, so­phis­ti­cated tech­nol­ogy will mean that the “voiceless will speak again”.

And “those who we thought were gone for ever… will ex­er­cise their right to be treated as real peo­ple”. |

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