Locked-in syndrome: Christine Waddell 'will recover'

Christine Waddell's words are spoken by an actress

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It is impossible to imagine.

For 15 years Christine Waddell, from County Durham, has been unable to speak, move or eat and drink normally.

Yet she can see and hear. Mentally she is as sharp as she has ever been.

She has locked in syndrome, a condition she developed after a massive stroke in 1997.

Ms Waddell, from Pelton Fell, communicates through her carer Carol who reads out a list of numbers and letters and she looks up or down regularly.

"Before my stroke I was full of energy. I loved a laugh. I can remember the day I had the stroke like it was yesterday," Ms Waddell said.

"I was in bed and didn't feel well. I collapsed... the phone was ringing but I couldn't see properly to use it."

'Two vodkas'

Carol said: "I've got an alphabet board and what we say is 'first line, second line, third line or fourth line' and whichever line Christine wants she'll blink her eyes."

Ms Waddell has the same condition as Tony Nicklinson, from Wiltshire, who died in August after losing a high profile legal fight for assisted suicide.

But she says she wants to live.

"I still think he is right about you being able to end your life, but it's all down to the individual, how they feel. You just get used to it so it's just normal for me now," she said.

Although she cannot speak, Ms Waddell can laugh - and she lets out a sudden belly laugh as Carol's translation reveals she still enjoys two vodkas a week.

But there could be more, much more, to look forward to.

Ms Waddell firmly believes she will recover and thinks the signs are there already.

She said: "After eight years I noticed my toes moving. I have always believed that I will recover just because I totally believe in myself and I really want it."

The first television interview with Christine Waddell can be seen on Look North in the North East and Cumbria on BBC One at 18:30 BST on Monday 17 September.

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