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The Blink of an Eye: A Memoir of Dying—and Learning How to Live Again
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The Blink of an Eye: A Memoir of Dying—and Learning How to Live Again

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  175 ratings  ·  37 reviews

'The most spellbinding and harrowing story I believe I have ever heard. It is the story you are about to read.' BILL BRYSON

The powerful and moving memoir by a scientist and mother of three of how she learned to live again, after a sudden severe infection caused her to die and then revive, but locked in - completely paralysed, and only able to blink an eye. Foreword by Bill Bryson.

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Hardcover
Published May 31st 2018 by Hodder & Stoughton
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Average rating 4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  175 ratings  ·  37 reviews


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Canadian
On New Year’s Day, 2013, Rikke Schmidt Kjaergaard went for a walk with her family along the river in their large Danish town. She lagged behind her husband, his friend, and the Kjaergaard children (aged 18, 14, and 8). Her legs were leaden, and she was unusually cold. Back at home, even a hot bath couldn’t warm her. Within a few hours she was feverish, vomiting, and had lost control of her bowels. A night-duty GP came to the house, diagnosed flu, and prescribed an antiviral medication. Even if R ...more
Jo Chambers
A moving true story of a Danish woman who came near to death with bacterial meningitis and was 'locked in' for a while, only able to communicate by blinking one eye. Incredibly she survived and has made a good recovery, although she has lost most of her fingers and her sight in one eye. I saw Rikke speak at the Hay Festival, and was struck by her calm demeanour and smiley face. She and her book really are an inspiration. A recommended read.
Sally Hanan
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent view into what it's like to almost die and then slowly feel your way back into living, albeit a different kind of life--harder but richer. Rikke skips nothing. Almost in a day-by-day account, she talks about what it's like to be in pain, to be treated like a thing by medical professionals vs. being treated as a person with emotions and comfort, and the struggle to try to find the way forward and persevere.

As a former nurse, a lot of her accounts felt familiar, but it cer
...more
Stephanie
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book will likely make it into my book club rotation. I found it fascinating and hope others do too. Kjaergaard writes a memoir about how she suddenly contracted a bacterial meningitis, went into a coma, was locked inside her body unable to move, or even react after she woke up, the gradual ability to blink coming to her. She details her stay in the ICU, then her subsequent moves to other facilities and I found the science behind it, her details of her illness and recovery to be fascinating. ...more
Riann
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The moving story of how the author fought her way back from a life threatening bacterial infection. She brought herself back from the brink and used her experience as a means to help others. It's important for there to be more awareness of the dangers of streptococcus pneumonia infection as well as well as a more complete understanding of what it means to experience locked-in syndrome.
Kara B
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was riveted!! This book leaves you breathless and so inspired.
Bre
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Received a digital ARC of this book via NetGalley.

A touching memoir of a brilliant woman who was affected by a vicious bacterial infection. With the love and support of her family, she learned to appreciate life again. It takes true emotional and mental strength to relearn everything and grow from the experience.
Huguette Larochelle
i win this book. wow , a view from inside a person in a coma and the detail of the struggle to get better . a courageous journey .
Christi
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, reviewed
In the blink of an eye everything can change. One moment your life is moving along, going through your normal routine, living your life. Then you blink. What once was is gone and you are plunged into an unimaginable nightmare that you can't wake up from, quickly becoming trapped inside your own body, the only movement that you can control is a blink. It sounds like a scene from a psychological thriller but this was realty for scientist Rikke Schmidt Kjaergaard on New Years day in 2013.
...more
Len
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine a hellish infection coming out of nowhere and knocking you off your feet, almost killing you.
Then imagine being trapped inside your own body, unable to move, to speak, or even breathe on your own.
This memoir is frustrating, terrifying, illuminating and ultimately inspiring.
Would we all have the same strength?
Jill Johnson
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I saw the author talking at the Hay Festival last week and was amazed by this woman’s strength and positivity when discussing her illness and recovery. I read this book in one day and would recommend to anyone. A very strong woman , who together with the support and love from her family and friends came back from a near fatal illness. This book is well written by a woman who explains her story in a way that is both informative and without self pity.
Donna Hines
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, netgalley
A life altering experience has just been condensed into nothing more than 'The Blink of an Eye.'
You cannot imagine unless placed in someone else's shoes what it must feel like to be given a 5 % chance of survival much less to only communicate by way of blinking an eye.
The horror that erupts internally yet without a voice to speak is a frightening chance.
To have it all begin with bacterial meningitis which then leads to a coma and near death is beyond anyone's comprehension. ...more
Linda Jamieson
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing. Very powerful stuff.
Charmaine Elliott
An exceptionally optimistic sounding audible narrator turned a potentially dreary offering into a lively narrative. I was shocked to discover how debilitating and devastating lupus can be. The road to recovery more so. But as a South African what shocked me most was the incredible medical care afforded to a sufferer. I have to say that with the Life Esidemeni event fresh in my mind an individual in this condition would be lucky to survive. I found the observations around differently ambled indiv ...more
Julie
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a small book that tells a big story about Rikke Schmidt Kjaergaard, a young mother and wife, who within a day or so falls terribly ill with bacterial meningitis, ending up in Intensive Care for weeks. As she remains unconscious for weeks, it is her family that document what is happening to her and the struggles that staff have to keep her alive. Although this horrid disease changed a lot in her life, forcing her to relearn basics like eating and walking again, she was lucky to survive. I ...more
Angela
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great quick read. It gives a unique perspective into the world of someone that has come out of a coma. I was struck by the difficulty in communication and how hard it must have been to fight when you cant tell people what you need. I cant imagine how mentally strong you need to be to keep sane through it all. It also offered advice we can all apply to our loved ones when they fall ill of anything. I would recommend adding this one to your list.
Jennifer
Jul 22, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Very engaging and honest first-person account of having your life taken from you by illness and the difficulties of relearning all that is taken for granted. A brain locked inside a body that can’t communicate.
Isabeau Masse
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick read, but engaging and thought-provoking. As an ICU nurse, I appreciated the empathetic perspective of what the patients are experiencing when they are intubated, sedated, or suffering from neurological damage and cannot necessarily communicate.
Linda
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really wish I would have had this book available when my brother was dying and in ICU in an induced coma. This is a good read for anyone who has or is going through a potentially terminal illness and I am so glad she wrote it.
Elizabeth
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clear and concise memoir of a woman who had the ability to move her eyes but nothing else for several weeks. Fast paced and intriguing. Reminds us to be grateful for what we have today-blemishes and all.
Danita White
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another book about superbugs.....
Jean
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting, but the writing was so clipped.
Jeanne
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a good book. I read it in two sittings.
Mia Finn
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is an eye-opening read to anyone who enjoys a true story. Learning about the main character's experience between life and death was a heart wrenching situation. Her fight for life from her spinal cord inflammation and infection was something that was very educating to the reader, considering we got to see the point of view of the patient. Her writing and vocabulary is specifically detailed and poised. As she describes her life and background, we get to see the qualities of herself, oth ...more
Katherine Early
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health
spellbinding read - an amazing story and look into how it feels to be locked inside your body and unable to communicate.
Josephine
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A return-from-the-dead...

This is the memoir of Danish scientist Rikke Kjaergaard who in 2013 suddenly became ill. Rikke was recklessly diagnosed with the flu. It was way more serious than flu. She was sent home to recuperate, but the next morning it was apparent that something more serious was happening in her body. After being rushed to the hospital, she was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and declared “clinically dead.”

As you read, you will experience great empathy
...more
Sally Hanan
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
An excellent view into what it's like to almost die and then slowly feel your way back into living, albeit a different kind of life--harder but richer. Rikke skips nothing. Almost in a day-by-day account, she talks about what it's like to be in pain, to be treated like a thing by medical professionals vs. being treated as a person with emotions and comfort, and the struggle to try to find the way forward and persevere.

As a former nurse, a lot of her accounts felt familiar, but it cer
...more
Mimi Fintel
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rikke has a PhD in science communication and was an associate professor at Aarhus University. On New Year's Day 2013, Rikke was celebrating New Year's Day with her husband and three young children. In the evening she suddenly contracted a fever and within hours her organs started shutting down. She was in a coma for several weeks and given only a 5% chance or survival. When she awoke, she was completely paralyzed. Being unable to communicate, no one realized she was conscious until her husband f ...more
Erikka
Mar 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, 2019
A great read-alike to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Bauby, this memoir takes us through the illness and recovery of the author, part of which involved suffering the horrors of locked in syndrome. Able to communicate only through blinks, Rikke watched as her husband and children visited and cried, as her fingers slowly decayed from gangrene, and as nurses turned and moved her, sometimes causing pain in her limbs that she could do nothing about. Through it all, she learned how important a s ...more
Wendy Williams
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If anyone dares to feel sorry for themselves over minor illnesses and mishaps, read this profoundly moving story of a mother struck down by bacterial meningitis and left in a coma and how her struggle to recover changes the way she views herself and the world around her. Devastating and uplifting in equal measure.
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“What does it take to swallow? It came as a complete surprise to me. No matter how hard I tried, I could not control anything going on in my throat.” 0 likes
“One out of four mechanically ventilated patients get hospital-acquired pneumonia and around ten per cent of them die.” 0 likes
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