Sussex mum paralysed doing a cartwheel writes book using just her eyes

  • WATCH Tom Savvides' report on Tracey's extraordinary achievement. He also spoke to one of her carers Kim Adams, and her father John Okines.


A woman who can only communicate by moving her eyes has written a book about the freak accident she suffered - and the  paralysis caused by it.

It has taken Tracey Okines six years to compile and publish her story - about living with Locked In Syndrome.

The mother-of-one from Sussex thought she was going to die when she landed on her head while showing her young daughter how to do a cart wheel.

That was twelve years ago and the accident transformed her life.

The 39 year old, from Hastings, tore an artery in her neck causing a blood clot at the base of her brain. It caused a stroke, and she spent the next five months in a coma in 2008.

Tracey before her accident

The former nursery nurse woke up unable to move anything apart from her eyes - and eventually had to learn how to use a colour-coded board to communicate.She's spent the past six years writing her real-life story - by painstakingly using her eyes to select each letter - called 'I'm glad you didn't die Mummy' - which is the sentence her 19-year-old daughter, Amber, then six, said when they were reunited for the first time after the accident. 

Tracey with her daughter Amber

In the early stages of her disability, she battled mental health issues.

Writing in her book, Tracey said: 'Before my accident I took everything for granted, especially my health. I thought this would never happen to me.

This sort of thing happens to other people. I never imagined that I would experience this in my lifetime. After a few months I began to see the world more clearly and reality hit hard. I realised that the world I had once loved had gone.

Tracey Okines, writing in her book "I'm Glad You Didn't Die Mummy"

But slowly, her physical and mental health has improved, and she is now able to do things she never thought she'd be able to.

Thanks to tireless rehabilitation, Tracey has finally regained enough movement in her neck to move a head-operated chair, giving her the first taste of freedom in a decade.

Tracey with voluntary carer Kim Adams who helped her to tell her story

Now, with the help of voluntary carer Kim Adams, Tracey has pieced together her story, and writes movingly about how other people treat her disability.

She points out how frustrating it is when people try to guess what she is saying before she is finished.

'Over time I've learnt all the tricks which people use not to communicate with me,' she said. 'Some people avoid looking at my eyes. That way they can just say, "Oh, I didn't notice".'

'A lot of people would talk to me very loudly and slowly as though I was a bit deaf or stupid. I am neither.' 


For more support on Locked In Syndrome click here