A comatose man woke up after being asleep
for 19 years, to find that his world had changed beyond
Polish railway worker Jan Grzebski lost consciousness in
1988 after being struck by a train. He suffered horrific
injuries when his head was trapped between two carriages.
He didn't come out of his coma until Sunday June 3 2007
when he opened his eyes to see his devoted wife Gertruda's
face looking at him. She cared for him all through his coma.
Mr. Grzebski was given only about two years to live after
he slipped into unconsciousness in 1988 and doctors discovered
he had a tumor on his brain.
But he remained in good health due to the tireless efforts
of his saintly wife Gertruda. She fed and washed her husband's
motionless body every day and moved him every hour to prevent
Jan's doctor said she had "done the job of an entire
intensive care team."
Her devotion was rewarded when at 65 years of age Jan came
out of his coma. He told members of his family he had vague
memories of family gatherings and relatives talking to him,
trying to provoke a response.
But he woke up to an entirely different world to the one
he remembered, and a Poland that was a far cry from the
bleak communist country he was used to.
"When I went into a coma there was only tea and vinegar
in the shops," the wheelchair-bound Jan said. "Meat
was rationed and there were huge petrol queues everywhere.
Now I see people on the streets with mobile phones and there
are so many goods in shops it makes my head spin"
Just a year after Jan's accident, Poland shed its communist
rule and the nation began its journey to becoming the westernised
state it is today.
TV ads and fashion are all new concepts for Jan. He is amazed
at the colorful streets and the goods, and says the world
is a much prettier place now.
These are just some of the world events that he missed while
he was sleeping:
1989 - Soviet troops pull out of Afghanistan; Berlin wall
1990 - First digital mobile phone call
1991 - First Gulf War
1993 - Bill Clinton becomes US president
1997 - Princess Diana dies in Paris crash
2001 - September 11
2003 - Second Gulf War; MySpace.com launched
2005 - Pope John Paul II, a fellow countryman, dies
The wife who never gave up on him said she cried and prayed
a lot throughout the long and lonely coma years. "Those
who came to see us kept asking, 'When is he going to die?'
But he's not dead," Gertruda said.
Delighted that her Ian has now rejoined the world, she added:
"This is my reward for all the care, faith and love."
- June 6, 2007