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 at 21 years old that left her unable to speak and only able to communicate through eye movement and a spelling chart.
After the stroke, Mia was diagnosed with ‘locked in syndrome’, which doctors describe as ‘the closest thing to being buried alive’.
Mia, from Wirral, North West, is paralyzed from the neck down and has to be fed through a tube.
Mia uses a special computer to communicate as she is unable to speak. It recognizes her eye gaze. In her book ‘In the blink of an eye’, which was launched last Friday (27 April), 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, nine years ago.
However, as they were preparing to switch it off, Mia opened her eyes and doctors realized 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, added: ‘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.’
This is not the first time Mia has amazed her parents with her determination. She 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 travelers.
‘Before her stroke, she was a travel agent and she’s always campaigning or raising money for charity.
‘Remarkably when she is on holiday she will always get in touch with causes there. She very much has a charity mind.
‘So far the response from the book has been fantastic but Mia is always looking for feedback and would love people to get in touch to tell her what they think.
‘Everyone has been very supportive.
‘I hope everyone enjoyed the book, Mia is very keen for people to read her story and to see what everyone thinks.
‘She’s on her Facebook page all the time as she’s stuck in the house, she can’t speak so she has a computer which recognizes her eye gaze and will spell things out which keeps her updated.’