A woman “trapped in her own body” after suffering a stroke has written a book about her ordeal using only her eyes.
Mia Austin, 29, suffered a stroke when she was 21 and this left her unable to speak. She can now only communicate through eye movement and a spelling chart.
After the stroke, Mia, from Wirral, North West England, was diagnosed with an extremely rare condition known as “locked in syndrome”, with doctors describing the condition as “the closest thing to being buried alive”.
She is paralysed from the neck down and has to be fed through a tube. As she is unable to speak, Mia uses a special computer to communicate, which recognises her eye gaze. In spite of her condition, she wrote a book using the special condition.
The book is titled “In the blink of an eye”. It was launched last Friday, April 27. In it, Mia shares her experiences of her ordeal with readers.
In the introduction, Mia writes:
I must have woken on the morning of November 16, 2009, totally oblivious as to what was going to happen because I’d been to work, as usual, nothing different, followed by the gym where I did my normal workout.
I went straight in to tell my mum how badly I’d done (at the gym) and she replied ‘There’s always tomorrow’. How ironic.
Welcome to my story all about me. Now you can get into the head of a stroke victim.
Doctors told the family to expect the worst and that Mia might not survive the night after she suffered a stroke and was put on a life support machine at Arrowe Park Hospital, Merseyside, in November 2018.
Just as doctors were preparing to switch the life support machine off, Mia opened her eyes and doctors realised that despite being completely immobile, she could still see, hear, and think as normal. Mia was diagnosed with “locked in syndrome” a week later.
Speaking of the book, Mia’s dad, Rick, said: “Personally, I feel incredibly proud of Mia. To write a book in quite literally a blink of an eye is outstanding. It took her around one year to write but it was a very laborious task, using her eyes to choose each letter.”
Her mother Carole, 62, said: “It was totally all Mia’s idea. She was in the hospital for around 14 months and writing poems and stories kept her on her alert and occupied. I think the idea stemmed from there really.”
The family, including Mia’s brother Sam, 32, and sister Sophie, 25, all helped Mia using a spelling chart to write poems and short stories in the hospital.
Carole said: “As you can imagine using the spelling graph took forever, it was very tiring for her, it is so much easier now she has the special computer.
“In this book, Mia writes about her experiences and addresses all the questions everyone probably wants to know but are too polite to ask. I am so proud of her, from the start we have all maintained a sink and swim mentality to what has happened and Mia has proven just how brave and driven she is.”
Asides, writing a book, Mia completed a criminology course at Wirral Metropolitan College in 2017 before signing up for a forensics course with the Open University. This year she will begin another course in criminal justice.
Speaking of her achievements her dad said: “She’s a very determined young lady and has recently launched a campaign for disabled travellers. Before her stroke, she was a travel agent and she’s always campaigning or raising money for charity.”