Have you ever wondered about the story behind my song, “I Am Still The Same”? Well, it’s based on an article I read in a magazine about a woman with “Locked In Syndrome”, which means she had a spinal injury which rendered her unable to move anything except her eyelids. Eventually someone figured out how to communicate with her. She would spell out letters by blinking. Apparently the first thing she spelt out was “I Am Still The Same”, which I thought was very profound. I think the article said that she went on to write a book, if I remember correctly. I’ve tried to find the magazine again but without any success and I didn’t make a note of the woman’s name, unfortunately. So if anyone knows, I’d love to hear from you!
[I wrote the song very quickly and recorded in a somewhat casual, rough way as a demo for myself, but it had a good feel so I left it as it was and it went on to win the Catapult Song Contest in 2011. And then my young friend David McGorlick made the masterful video for it which has recently been selected for the SoCal Independent Film Festival in the US.]
Anyway, a little while back, on Facebook, I met a wonderful woman from the UK, Kate Allatt, who had a similar story but with a big difference. Kate actually recovered from Locked In Syndrome! This is a very rare occurrence but Kate is a very determined woman who doesn’t let anything get in her way and she just wouldn’t let an “incurable condition” like Locked In Syndrome stop her. Seemingly by sheer force of will she made herself learn to move again. She attributes this to determination and the increasingly recognised phenomenon of “neuroplasticity” whereby the brain is able to teach itself new pathways to perform functions when the original neural pathways are put out of action. The first word Kate spelt out by blinking was “Sleep” because she hadn’t slept for two weeks and longed for sleeping pills to help her. And the first part of her body she was able to move was her thumb, but now she’s back to almost full capacity, and, in fact, is far more physically active than most of us!
Of course, when I came across her I couldn’t resist sending her a link to my song on Youtube and she made some lovely comments which made me feel that I had managed to at least capture a tiny part of the sort of feelings that a locked in person suffers.
These are the comments Kate made on Youtube about my song:
“I am astounded! Very well done. You have captured my feelings superbly. What a great soundtrack to my books Running Free and Gonna Fly Now! 7/2/10 brainstem stroke with locked in syndrome. The wheelchair, the mirror, I was the same person inside, not a patient number. I was a cripple to look at but the same Kate inside. This video describes my emotions in the early months of ICU. Then the Rocky theme tune best describes my fight back to full life and kids. Thank you so much.”- Kate Allatt (Youtube comments 7 Feb 2012)
I’m glad I saved her comments because not long afterwards, my Youtube channel was shut down suddenly and I had to start again! I checked with Kate today and she said it was fine to quote her.
We keep in touch, and I was chatting with her again today about her appearance on the “The Science Show” on ABC Australia Radio National. You can hear it HERE and I highly recommend it as a nice introduction to her story, only about 9 minutes long but definitely not dull – Kate is NEVER dull!
Which brings me to Kate’s mission… since she made her remarkable recovery, and it’s not very long ago, she has written two books, appeared on numerous high-profile radio and TV shows, and has become an in-demand inspirational speaker. She’s determined to increase awareness about stroke recovery, neuroplasticity, positive care for stroke survivors and locked-in patients, and also in more general terms about the benefits of positive-thinking and determination on health and other aspects of life.
Kate has a very warm and winning personality and for this reason she is really good at getting her point across so you will enjoy getting to find out about her on her website (KateAllatt.com), on Youtube, in her books etc! She also has a blog you can follow.
You’ll be inspired too!
PS: for those of you haven’t seen it, here is my song, “I Am Still the Same” which was inspired by Locked in Syndrome:
TO BE CONTINUED…