Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jean-Dominique Bauby and Julia Tavalaro

I read The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby just over a year ago. What impressed me most about the book was that Bauby managed to write it within two years after his stroke. During that time I was still groggy from what Bertie Wooster would have called "a sock on the jaw by the fist of Fate" and thought of writing anything was far from my mind.

When I was in the hospital I remember a friend telling me that somebody had written a book by using only his eye movements. Perhaps he was talking about this book. I don't remember anything more about the conversation so I cannot be sure.

Another famous case of a patient with locked-in syndrome was Julia Tavalaro. She was thought to be in a vegetative state for six years before someone realised that she could understand what was happening around her and started communicating with her. Six years? I don't know how she survived that hellish period.

Sometime after I started communicating, I told about how I felt giddy in the bathroom. Till then everyone had thought that I had fallen and hit my head somewhere. I don't know why they thought that because I did not have any external injuries. Although the recent death of Natasha Richardson from a seemingly innocuous fall seems to suggest that they were not entirely unjustified in thinking along those lines.

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