Recovery from coma amazes medical staff

GOING HOME

June 06, 1991|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Evening Sun Staff

Mention Clifton Scott's name at the Deaton Hospital & Medical Center in the Inner Harbor and the words "determination" and "remarkable" surface.

"He had a lot of determination," Patsy Buniff, Scott's nurse, said yesterday. "It's remarkable how well he's done."

"He's just very determined and he's made remarkable progress here," said Norma G. Kern, director of community relations and development at Deaton.

Scott, 36, went home yesterday to his family and four children after two months in a coma and seven months at Deaton recovering from a severe head injury.

In October, Scott received a severe blow to the head from an unknown assailant. He was admitted to the University of Maryland Medical Center where he spent two months in a coma. He was diagnosed with a brain stem contusion, an inoperable condition and one that can cause brain damage.

Doctors weren't sure if Scott would recover from his injury. But he awoke from his coma, and on Nov. 29, he was admitted to Deaton, a 360-bed chronic, or long-term, medical care facility on South Charles Street.

VTC was in a chronic vegetative state," Kern recalled. "He couldn't do anything."

At Deaton, where the staff gave him a party yesterday, Scott said, "I feel great." A slim man, he was wearing a white hat, green and white shirt and white pants that were stained with chocolate.

"I came a long way," he said, holding a bag of chocolate-covered Raisinets in his hands.

Scott credits his recovery to his mother, who told him to be determined. He said he got better so he could go home to his two sons and two daughters, ages 12, 10, 8, and 6.

He said he doesn't remember the attack. "I don't remember when I woke up," he said. "I probably was walking down the street when it happened. I don't remember."

"I was like asleep," he said of being in a coma.

When he arrived at Deaton, he was confused and disoriented. He was fed through a tube that was inserted into his stomach. He worked with a speech pathologist to learn how to swallow and to talk. He underwent a tracheotomy and physical therapy.

Gradually, Scott learned how to talk and to walk again, using a walker and a cane.

The attack left him with permanent physical reminders. For example, he said he "wobbles" when walking and walks slower than before. Also, his speech is a bit impaired because of the tracheotomy that left a visible scar on his throat.

"That's why I talk like this," Scott said. "I used to sing at one time. Gospel music. I was pretty good, too."

He said he's not angry about the attack but now he'll be more careful when he's on the streets. "Because people don't care about you," he said. "I learned that the hard way."

Eventually, Scott wants to open a shop reconditioning cars and engines. Before the accident, he spent 15 years buffing cars, he said. He would also like to volunteer at Deaton to help inspire other patients.

"He's a miracle when you look at him," said Georgia Leep, 74, a wheelchair-bound patient, who was eating dinner in a second-floor lounge. "When I first saw him, he couldn't speak and he was in a world of his own."

Before pushing through the glass doors in Deaton's lobby, Scott did the "soul shake" with Theodore Thompson, 29, of the housekeeping staff. "I'm going to miss him," Thompson said. "He's come a long way."

Scott next hugged Buniff, his nurse. And he hugged Robin Johnson, a security guard.

"Bye, Scottie," some staff members said. "You all be good," Scott answered as he left for home.

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