- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 3, 2007

WARSAW (AP) — A railway worker who emerged from a 19-year coma woke to a radically altered and democratic Poland and is learning to adapt to his new life, Polish media reported.

“I wake up at 7 a.m., and I watch TV,” Jan Grzewski, 65, told TVN24 Television over the weekend, smiling slightly as he lay in bed at his home in the northern city of Dzialdowo.

“I could not talk or do anything, now it’s much better,” he said in a weak but clear voice, some two months after emerging from his coma.

Wojciech Pstragowski, a rehabilitation specialist, said Mr. Grzewski was shocked at the changes in Poland’s economy — especially its stores.

“When I went into a coma, there was only tea and vinegar in the shops,” he was quoted as saying.

“Meat was rationed, and huge petrol queues were everywhere. Now I see people on the streets with cell phones, and there are so many goods in the shops that it makes my head spin.”

Poland shed communism in 1989 and has developed democracy and a market economy.

In 1988, Mr. Grzewski fell into a coma after he was injured attaching two train carriages. Doctors also found cancer in his brain and said he would not live, according to the local daily Gazeta Dzialdowska.

When doctors could do no more, Mr. Grzewski’s wife, Gertruda, took him home and cared for him, Gazeta said.

“I would fly into a rage every time someone would say that people like him should be euthanized so they don’t suffer,” she told Gazeta.

“I believed Janek would recover,” she said, using an affectionate version of his name.

Last year, she noticed that he was trying to speak, Gazeta said. He returned to the hospital and came out of the coma about two months ago.

“At the start, his speech was very unclear, now it is improving daily,” Mr. Pstragowski said. “If he continues to make such progress, he will soon be able to walk.

“I am sure that without the dedication of his wife, the patient would not have reached us in the shape that he did.”

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