Mia was the type of energetic young woman who kept in shape by daily trips to the gym and climbing mountains in her leisure time.
She was a go-getter, a determined and dedicated person who inspired all those around her. Unfortunately, misfortune doesn’t pick and choose who it settles upon, and Mia was about to learn that lesson in the harshest way imaginable…
Featured photo credit: www.mirror.co.uk
It was November 16, and Mia got up just as she did every day. She went to work, as she normally did, then went to the gym afterwards for her daily work out. It was a normal day, her normal routine, and though it was unbelievably mundane, nothing seemed amiss.
That is, besides the fact that her workout seemed a bit more taxing than usual. She felt like things were off, and she told her mom as much when she got home that evening. Her mom placated her in a very momish way, telling her: “There’s always tomorrow.” A few hours later and she would learn how ironic that statement truly was…
Later that night, while at her home in Whirral, England, something happened to Mia. She collapsed and was taken to the hospital where doctors believed she had suffered a massive stroke. She was in bad shape and Doctors told her parents to expect the worst. It was very likely she wouldn’t survive the night.
Mia’s parents stood around her bedside, looking down at their unconscious daughter, hooked into all manner of life support machines. She made it until the next day, but the prognosis was grim. Then, just as her parents were about to make the decision to withdraw life support, Mia opened her eyes…
Despite her ordeal, Mia was awake…sort of. She was still completely immobile of course, but she could still see, hear, and think as she always could. The doctors were unsure how to describe her new condition, so they began a week’s worth of tests. Seven days later and they determined that the stroke had caused Mia to develop a rare condition called Locked-In Syndrome.
Her doctors used a grim description to explain the condition to her family. They called it, “The closest thing to being buried alive.” At 21 years old, Mia couldn’t move from the neck down and had to be fed through a tube. She was heartbroken, but no less determined than she had been before the stroke. She was going to do whatever she could to continue living…
In time, Mia’s parents discovered that she could still communicate, in some fashion anyway. Mia’s family, which included her 32-year-old brother Sam, and her 25-year-old sister Sophie, helped her to learn how to use the spelling device to learn how to communicate.
Her mother Carole spoke openly about watching her daughter use the device. “As you can imagine using the spelling graph took forever, it was very tiring for her…” Soon though, she was given a much more useful and productive special computer. The new device made her transcription much easier…
Her eyes could move over a spelling chart, and though it was time consuming, Mia had nothing but time. It wasn’t as easy as it looked: not by a long shot, but even she got the hang of it. As she sat in the hospital for 14 months, getting to a point where she could be sent home, she began to use the spelling chart to write down her thoughts.
She wrote poetry at first, or short stories, and by the time she had the hang of it, Mia realized she wanted to do something a bit more lengthy. She wanted to be able to express herself, to tell her story. So she began writing a book, using her eyes and the spelling chart to type it out. It was an exhausting enterprise to be sure…
It took her over a year to write but she pressed on until it was done. She titled the book, appropriately, “In the Blink of an Eye.” The introduction begins by retelling the tale of the day of the stroke. She tells of the workout that would never be repeated the following day, and the irony of her mother’s statement.
In the book, Mia writes about her experiences during her time locked-in and addresses many of the questions people have about the whole situation: questions that most people are too polite to ask. For their part, Mia’s family has spoken openly about how proud they are of Mia and how driven and brave she has been through the process…
Mia’s father Rick spoke about the book and his daughter’s many accomplishments. “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.” he explained.
That’s Not All
As amazing at the book is though, it is hardly Mia’s most incredible accomplishment since her accident so many years ago. Her previously-eluded to determination became clear when she, while still locked-in, completed a criminology course at Wirral Metropolitan College. She also signed up for a subsequent forensics course and another in criminal justice after that…
Launched a Career
Now, it must be noted that before her stroke, Mia Austin worked as a travel agent. This was for several reasons, the main one being that she loved travelling and was happy to reap the fringe benefits of being in the biz. Since her stroke, she has devoted a good deal of her time to charity work, which includes launching a campaign for disabled travelers like herself.
In addition to that charity, Mia has also taken part in several challenges to help raise money for several charitable causes. She’s slept rough on the streets of Liverpool to raise awareness about homelessness and has been on aid missions to orphanages in Gambia, and the Calais Jungle. In short, she’s giving back whenever she can…
Mia has explained that this desire to give back to charity is partially so she can repay the kindness she received from charities once she became disabled. It’s also to prove that even with her condition, she can meet challenges. She wants to succeed despite her disability, but anyone with eyes can see that.
At only 74 pages long, In the Blink of an Eye has captivated audiences since its release. Almost all the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive and Mia seems to love the feedback. She’s even offered ways for her readers to get in touch with her to share their opinions with her. And if you think inviting direct criticism is brave, check this out…
Though she hasn’t been able to climb under her own steam since the stroke, Mia’s family and friends knew it was her passion. As a Christmas present, Mia’s friend Richard contacted a search and rescue service to take her up to Moel Famau. She loved the 40 minutes she spent at the peak, taking in the views and feeling like she hadn’t for so many years.
Today, Mia spends a lot of her time on Facebook, hearing from fans and keeping the world updated. It just goes to show you that in this day and age, even someone who can’t move can express themselves via social media and technological marvels. Not to mention her insane force of will.