A vegetative state is absence of responsiveness and awareness due to overwhelming dysfunction of the cerebral hemispheres, with sufficient sparing of the diencephalon and brain stem to preserve autonomic and motor reflexes and sleep-wake cycles. Patients may have complex reflexes, including eye movements, yawning, and involuntary movements to noxious stimuli, but show no awareness of self or environment. A minimally conscious state, unlike a vegetative state, is characterized by some evidence of awareness of self and/or the environment, and patients tend to improve. Diagnosis is clinical. Treatment is mainly supportive. Prognosis for patients with persistent deficits is typically bleak.
Well the situation is not too "bleak" if I'm writing this. I'm diagnosed "semi-vegetative" because that is what I was when I left the hospital. Obviously I'm not any vegetative any more. The problem with the above statement is a person can't recover from the first situation, persistent vegetative state. So you get what's happening to me. I'm still in a "coma" and I'm told so by e-mail. (Here's the e-mail, http://thoughtfulveg.blogspot.com/2014/05/dear-vegetable.html )
Is that punishment for being conscious? I've been through much worse.
I'm not in a care situation. I don't operate on this notion of neurological nihilism. Problems with this concept have been noticed by others: "Far too often, patients ... are given up for gone, left to languish in nursing homes where no one bothers with physical therapy or even to check for glimmers of regained consciousness." http://www.wired.com/2013/02/searching-for-consciousness/ Families who immediately take a loved one home, avoiding a care situation have noticed it. Unfortunately the medical facilities don't reside at home. Those still needing medical care soon expire. If medical care is remained in, the other part expires.
How did I happen? Mostly luck. (It was statistically bound to happen.) There are factors (and I do some therapy!), but what matters is that it did happen. What are you going to do now?
(Politicians, I do vote. I'm unconscious and I vote! I use the absentee ballot. I make my choices, but I have someone else fill out the form. I can't hand-write with one finger. What does this do to your constituency? One of your voters is unconscious.)