Imagine being fully conscious but being completely unable to move your body or communicate. You could see, hear and understand everything, but you just couldn’t interact with anyone. That would be the worst kind of prison, but in 2001, that’s where Nissa Smith found herself. Nissa had recently given birth to her third daughter when she suddenly collapsed. By the next night, she couldn’t talk or move even though she was fully conscious. She had what’s known as locked-in syndrome, a terrifying condition that sometimes occurs after a stroke damages the brainstem. Doctors told Nissa’s family that she’d never recover and recommended that she be allowed to die. But one nurse noticed a sparkle in Nissa’s eyes and decided to see if Nissa was still there.
The nurse asked Nissa to blink if she could hard her, and to everyone’s amazement, Nissa blinked. Then, just to make sure, she asked Nissa to blink twice, which Nissa did.
The ecstatic nurses and family members soon worked out a system of blinking and spelling out words to help Nissa communicate. And Nissa was so relieved that she could communicate again, at least a little bit, that she focused all of her energy on her recovery.
Now thanks to that nurse, Nissa has been able to watch her daughters grow up. She says: “Just to watch them grow and mature makes me happy.”
Watch Nissa’s moving story in this clip.
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