LIFE

Woman With Locked-In Syndrome Recovers After Family Begs Her To Open Up Her Hand

by Emerald Pellot
Emerald Pellot graduated summa cum laude from New York University with a degree in Writing & Popular Culture. She worked as Senior Editor of College Candy for 2 years, covering feminism, popular culture, and college life before joining LittleThings in 2015. Based in New York City, Emerald covers a wide range of topics from human interest pieces to celebrity news.

Brisa was a 32-year-old hairstylist living in New York City, when her life got turned upside down. One day, her face began to swell.

She went to the hospital.

While there, she called her mom, Linda, and told her she would call her back when she got more information. Linda didn’t hear back from her daughter after that.

Brisa had suffered a pons stroke that left her unconscious. She had to be intubated and sedated. Linda got on the first plane to New York.

When Brisa awoke, she was fully conscious, but she could not move her body or speak. She had locked-in syndrome.

Doctors said there was less than 1% of a chance that Brisa would ever regain her mobility.

Linda did not want to hear that — she and her family knew that, together, they could get through this. Linda believed Brisa was a fighter.

Linda would play The Secret, stroke Brisa’s forehead, and hold her hands. One day, she and her sons were holding Brisa’s hand, motivating her to open up her palm. They noticed Brisa’s eyes were looking directly at her hand. They kept begging her to open it — Brisa did.

That was just the beginning.

She made a peace sign with her fingers, a thumbs-up, and her first words were, “I love you,” to her mother. Brisa relearned to walk and talk. Today, she is running half marathons just to prove to her doctors that anything is possible.

“I had faith. My family had faith in me. My family never gave up. They always knew I was going to be OK, and I couldn’t disappoint them. I knew I had to be OK because they knew I had to be OK. I worked hard at it and never gave up,” Brisa said.

Brisa said she heard and saw everything that was happening around her. It was her family, and listening to The Secret, a self-help book and film.

“I was locked in my own body,” she says. “It was basically like living a nightmare.”

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Photo: The Doctors

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