The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a translation of the French memoir Le scaphandre et le papillon by journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby. It describes what his life is like after suffering a massive stroke that left him with a condition called locked-in syndrome. It also details what his life was like before the stroke.
On December 8, 1995, Bauby, the editor-in-chief of Elle magazine, suffered a stroke and lapsed into a coma. He awoke 20 days later, mentally aware of his surroundings but physically paralyzed with the exception of some movement in his head and eyes (one of which had to be sewn up due to an irrigation problem). The entire book was written by Bauby blinking his left eyelid, which took ten months (four hours a day). Using partner assisted scanning, a transcriber repeatedly recited a French language frequency-ordered alphabet (E, S, A, R, I, N, T, U, L, etc.), until Bauby blinked to choose the next letter. The book took about 200,000 blinks to write and an average word took approximately two minutes. The book also chronicles everyday events for a person with locked-in syndrome.
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