Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly dictated with the blink of an eye

13 Jun 2012Whilst researching who to write about on Jo Blogs I came across a story about a 44 year old French man, Jean-Dominique Bauby, who was the editor-in-chief of Elle magazine when he suffered a stroke and a couple of weeks in a coma. When he came to he was the victim of locked-in syndrome. Jean-Dominique was unable to move or speak. The only bits of his body that he could control was his left eyelid and his mind/imagination. He could blink of his own accord. By having use of his left eyelid he was able to communicate.

Astonishingly, with the help of Caude Mendibil, Jean-Dominique was able to write a book. Claude would read off the alphabet until, with a blink of my eye, Jean-Dominique would stop her at the letter to be noted. This manoeuvre was repeated for the letters that followed, so that eventually she had written a whole word.

The book is called “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” – a memoir. The Diving Bell being the ‘locked in’ sensation he felt by his inability to move and the Butterfly is the imagination he still had.

Unfortunately, 2 days after the French publication of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Jean-Dominique died of heart failure.

The book has since been made into a movie by the same title.

I hope you are inspired by this story, to me it emphasises the determination one person can have in the face of extraordinary hardship. If Jean-Dominique was able to write a book by blinking an eye, what can I do with what I have?

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