Man Who Could Only Communicate By Blinking Recovers From Locked-In Syndrome
A man who could only communicate by blinking has become one of only 15 people to recover from locked-in syndrome.
Shaun Wilde, from Ballabeg in the Isle of Man, is now walking and talking, having spent three months in a vegetative state. During this period, he was only able to communicate with family and doctors by blinking at a letter board and was unable to eat, drink or move.
The 44-year-old developed the syndrome after a blood clot in his brain stem caused a severe stroke. Only around one percent of stroke victims are affected by the syndrome, but around 90 percent of sufferers die within four months.
Shaun has defied the odds, however, since the fateful day of his stroke on 23 August 2015, returning to work and now going to the gym three times a week.
Reflecting on that morning when he woke up feeling light-headed, he said: "I didn't think for one minute it was the beginning of a stroke.
"It's a bit surreal. You hear and read about it, but don't think it will happen to you.
"I was in a dream-like state, I guess it was two weeks before I came round."
Many of us are currently realising the physical and mental challenges of being confined to our homes, but we can scarcely imagine what it's like to suffer from the nightmarish syndrome, whereby a person is mentally present but trapped in their body due to the paralysis of nearly all voluntary muscles.
Shaun said: "It was frustrating. You take it for granted, asking for things, saying things, taking part in conversation.
"In the first few months I did wonder, 'Is this going to get any better? Is it going to improve?'"
But much to the surprise of medical staff, Shaun did start to improve.
He said: "I started to put two or three words together and I built on that. Slowly but surely I started to be able to make sentences and speak a bit faster.
"I had to learn to speak again, pretty much the same way an infant would have to learn to speak.
"There is no expectancy for somebody to recover from something like this. It took a lot of hard work as there was never anything wrong with me physically, but the messages were not getting from my brain to my limbs."
Ten months after suffering the stroke he was discharged and just a few months after that he returned to work as a company administrator at an accountancy.
Now he is 'concerned' that quarantine measures could see him 'locked in' again, though he knows it will never compare to what he's been through.
He said: "I wake up and think I'm glad I can move."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS