Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mission Nothing's Impossible: Man with Locked-in Syndrome Scuba Dives, Defies Doctors

Locked-in syndrome is a condition in which a patient is aware and awake but cannot move or communicate verbally due to complete paralysis of nearly all voluntary muscles in the body.

But Dr Cival Mills wasn't about to let that stand in the way of a life filled with adventure... including scuba diving.

Driving across South Africa on a quad bike, writing two books and taking up scuba diving is an impressive list of feats for anyone.

But what makes Dr Cival Mills achievement truly remarkable is that he can barely move a muscle.

On December 8, 2000, Cival then 26, was just five days from finishing his hospital internship when he was involved in a car crash.

When he awoke in intensive care following surgery he was horrified to realise he had locked-in syndrome. This is a ‘living nightmare’ condition, where patients are fully conscious but can only move their eyes.

‘I knew that I was in hospital and that I could not breathe - a machine was breathing for me,’ Dr Mills explained, via a computer pad he operates with his left hand.

‘My body felt heavy and weightless and completely out of my control. I could not speak or move at all I couldn’t even swallow my own saliva.

‘I would try to lift my arm or move my tongue and there was nothing. It was like living in a submarine and peering out a periscope at the world.

‘All I could hear was the sound of the different machines keeping me alive. And when I fell asleep I had terrible recurring dreams.

‘I remember thinking: “This can not be forever, please don’t let this be forever.”’

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