Jean Dominique Bauby

Jean was described as witty and stylish and this was ideal in his job as the editor of Elle Magazine. One day he was driving in the countryside with his son. Suddenly he became paralysed - he had a massive stroke to his brain stem. Fortunately, his car ground to a halt on the verge of the road. His son managed to run from the car and get some help. The next thing Jean recollected was waking up in a hospital near Normandy. He slowly began to realise that he had what is called, "Locked in Syndrome." The main symptom was that the only part of his body that he could move was his left eye - in other words he could only blink. His mental facilities were fine. He lost sixty pounds in the first twenty weeks of his hospitalisation. After the main shock and anger wore off, Jean decided to create a book. He did this with the help of his speech therapist. She managed to decode his blinking eye in accordance with the intended letters of the alphabet - this had been customised in relation to each letter's frequency of usage in the French language. The book describes his life and his illness. He died ten days after it was published. This was in 1995 when Jean was forty three years old.

A film has been made to reflect his life. It is called "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." I think the "Diving Bell" describes his body which he was trapped in. The "butterfly" was his spirit, encased in the "bell" (body). The film is inspirational - despite it being subtitled!

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