Almost four years after his stroke, Lynn Sherr visits Ariel Sharon, former prime minister of Israel, in hospital:
The old soldier’s eyes are open. Sometimes he’s propped up in front of a TV, where images of nature and animals, especially cows, flicker across the screen. His family tells him the day’s news, the goings on at his beloved farm. They read to him, alternating between two books at a time, just as he used to do for himself. They play classical music. When his white hair grows long, they trim it. And once in a while, when someone tells him to move a toe, he does.
It is a desperately sad image, and a bit petrifying, as well - because no one knows just how aware he is:
“There is a feeling of communication, of realization—I mean, the eyes are open and there is kind of, like, you feel that he feels your presence,” says Dr. Shlomo Segev, Sharon’s longtime personal physician and the head of the Institute of Medical Screening at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, just outside Tel Aviv, where Sharon has been hospitalized since May 2006. “So it’s not completely what we call a coma. Not a deep coma, for sure. But if you asked me to quantify that, I cannot.”
Although this does sound like wishful thinking. Especially when you read what else Dr Segev has to say about Mr Sharon:
“He looks about the same. You would recognize him... He is a very, very healthy fat man.”
If Ariel Sharon, who has had two strokes and is in a long-term coma (deep or otherwise), is his idea of of a "very, very healthy" man, I'd hate to hear his definition of a sick man.