JEAN DOMINIQUE BAUBY & THE POWER OF WORDS

JEAN DOMINIQUE BAUBY & THE POWER OF WORDS

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a book by Jean-Dominique Bauby of France which is very unique because Bauby "dictated" it while totally paralyzed with only the ability for some movement of his head and eyes.

Bauby was the editor of the well known French magazine, Elle in December of 1995 when he suffered a massive stroke and went into a coma. When he came out of the coma he had a "locked in" syndrome – a BAUBY poisoner within his own body. It left him mentally aware of what was going on around him, but unable to communicate because he was paralyzed. He could think, remember, smell and hear, but could not speak or move.

He accomplished this amazing feat of writing a book by  communicating only by the blinking his left eye lid. This was done by having a speech therapist and various friends repeat French alphabet letters until Bauby would blink his left eye lid to choose the letter he wanted. Bauby worked four hours a day and ten months to complete to complete his book. It was estimated that it took some 200,000 blinks to write it with the assistance of a ghostwriter, Claude Mendibil. The book documented his memoirs and described what it was like to be in this condition.

In 1997 the book was published in France and became a best seller throughout Europe. Bauby, however, died only two days after the book was published. The book became a movie of the same name in 2007 and was nominated for four Academy Awards. It was awarded a number of honors internationally.

This story is a tribute to the determination  and amazing attitude of Bauby. In Ephesians 4:23 it says "Your innermost being must be renewed and you must put on the new man." Paul writes in Romans 12:2 "…be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Bauby did this. In spite of being "buried alive" he refused to let it stop him from renewing his attitude and mind to accomplish his goal. He found a way to communicate even though a prisoner in his own body.

This also speaks to the subject of words and their importance. The poet Will Carleton once wrote these lines:

"Boys flying kites haul in their white-winged birds;

You can’t do that way when you’re flying words;

Careful with fire is good advice we know;

Thoughts unexpressed may sometimes fall back dead;

But God himself can’t kill them when they’re said."

Unlike Bauby and other stroke victims, I have the ability to speak. I often have said things I later regretted as Carleton describes. We should all remember the power of our words and the good or harm they can do.

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