Four years ago, Rachel Capps had three major goals in life; to one day walk again, to talk again, and to fulfil a life-long dream of being an author. And while she’s making good progress on the first two, thanks to her physiotherapist and speech therapist, she can now tick one major goal off the list, with the publishing of her debut book. The newly released, Spades of Determination: A Locked-in Journey, tells Rachel’s story as she embarks of the long journey of rehabilitation and disability support after a brain stem stroke turned her life upside down.
Rachel was 41 with a loving family and a high-flying job in law when she was suddenly struck down by the condition. Doctors didn’t expect her to live, let alone be able to move again - the titular ‘locked-in’ refers to locked-in syndrome, a state where stroke victims can only move their eyes. It was during this dark time, Rachel said, that she decided to document her story in all its gritty details, so that others might get some insights into what thousands of Australians living with her go through every day.
“In those early days, I was completely in the dark as to what to expect. Everything written about the subject was about the big things, but I couldn’t find anything that went into the day-to-day experiences,” Rachel said. “As soon as movement slowly began creeping back, I set to work writing. I could only move a single finger and wasn’t able to lift my shoulder, so my progress was excruciatingly slow and painful and at times I thought it was never going to happen. “But, gradually, the narrative started to come together, and with each experience and obscure detail of the road to recovery that I wrote down, I became driven by a burning desire to finish my story. Not only was it therapeutic for me, I hoped it would help stroke survivors and their families by shedding light on the recovery process.”
“Luckily, I’ve come a long way since I was locked-in, thanks to the support of my family, my fantastic therapists, and my Plan Partners support coordinator. And while I still have a way to go, I’m quietly optimistic about what the future may bring. “Now that I’ve had my book published, I can tick one big goal off my list. Hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to walk, talk and hug my three children tight and tell them how much I love them.”
Rachel’s story is also featured in a short video by Plan Partners
'Spades of Determination: a Locked-in Journey' is available now on Amazon (e-book) and through Booktopia (paper-back).