Ellicott City gallery owner Berman awakens from coma

A month after she was struck by a respiratory illness so virulent that doctors induced a coma to save her life, an Ellicott City art gallery owner is awake and struggling to communicate.

Marian Berman, 61, who operated Gallery 44 until family members closed her shop Feb. 22, first opened her eyes about a week ago, said her daughter, Tracie Guy-Decker of Norfolk, Va. The longtime businesswoman is not yet aware that the gallery on U.S. 40 has been shuttered.

Berman remains on ventilator support, as she has been since Feb. 10, when doctors diagnosed her acute respiratory distress syndrome. She is unable to move because of muscle atrophy caused by weeks of lying motionless in the hospital. She has been moved to a larger facility for rehabilitation that will take "many weeks, maybe months," Guy-Decker said.

"Apparently, my stepdad and aunt are saying the alphabet and [Mom] indicates somehow when to stop so that she can spell things for them," said Guy-Decker, who is due to give birth in five weeks.

The family prefers that Berman not receive any nonfamily visitors until she is better able to communicate, so the name of the hospital where she is being treated is not being disclosed, Guy-Decker said.

An online fundraising campaign to help offset mounting business and health care expenses continues during Berman's convalescence and can be accessed at chutzpahfiles.blogspot.com. About $5,500 has been donated to her recovery fund.


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