ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- For 16 years, Patricia White Bull was unable to speak, swallow or move much. She slipped into a catatonic state while delivering her fourth child.
On Christmas Eve, she suddenly snapped back to consciousness.
''Don't do that,'' she blurted out when nurses were trying to fix her nursing home bed.
Doctors cannot explain why Ms. White Bull, 42, awakened. Her mother, Snowflake Flower, said it was a Christmas miracle from God.
Ms. White Bull -- known as ''Happi'' -- has been speaking her children's names, catching up on family developments and spending a lot of time just watching her children and smiling.
''I just went up to her and gave her a hug, and she gave me a hug back,'' her oldest child, Cindi, told the Albuquerque Journal. ''It was the first time she had ever hugged back. It was scary at first. It was overwhelming emotionally.''
Ms. White Bull's speech is clear but limited. She has talked very little but listened a lot. Her hands, which had been clenched tightly for 16 years, have loosened.
She has been driven up into the mountains to breathe the fresh air. She has been wheeled around a shopping mall. She has eaten a small bite of pizza. And on Monday, with her ability to swallow improving, she ate chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy.
Pointing to new running shoes, she said: ''I'm going to run.''
Doctors say Ms. White Bull's condition was caused by a blood clot that lodged in her lung and caused her to stop breathing while her son Mark Jr. was being delivered by Caesarean section. She was resuscitated but suffered brain damage from lack of oxygen.
Cindi, Mark Jr., 16, and Ms. White Bull's other children, Floris, 17, and Jesse, 19, have been raised by their father on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. They rushed back to Albuquerque when they heard their mother had awakened from the vegetative state they had been told would last the rest of her life.
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