The Blink of an Eye: How I Died and Started Living

The Blink of an Eye: How I Died and Started Living
Published : 31 May 2018 - Hodder & Stoughton
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 but then revive with 'locked-in syndrome' – only able to blink an eye. With a foreword by Bill Bryson.

At the age of 38, Rikke Schmidt Kjærgaard, a Danish scientist, wife and mother of three, is struck down by an acute bout of bacterial meningitis. She awakes from a coma in intensive care to find herself completely paralysed, unable to show she is conscious except by blinking her eye. It becomes her only form of communication as in the months that follow, Kjærgaard's husband Peter sits beside her helping to interpret every eye movement. She struggles with every basic of life – painfully learning how to breathe, move, eat and speak again. Despite being given a five per cent chance of survival, she works intensively to recover and achieve every small breakthrough.

THE BLINK OF AN EYE is a celebration of love and family and every little thing that matters when life is in the balance – written by a scientist uniquely able to describe her physical and mental journey to recovery.


Powerful… As gripping as a thriller, The Blink of an Eye compels you to appreciate everything you daily take for granted.

Caroline Sanderson, The Sunday Express Magazine

The most spellbinding and harrowing story I believe I have ever heard.

Bill Bryson

Rikke describes herself, more than once, as a determined fighter… Her fighting spirit emerges on every page of the book.

Sunday Herald Magazine

Rikke spent five months in hospital, and her book details the agonising path to an almost-full recovery (as well as losing her fingers, she is virtually blind in her left eye). There is the day she utters her first, and very apt, word: weird; the days she becomes paranoid and delirious, a common occurrence in coma patients; the terrifying times when she is hauled, in agony, into an upright position in physiotherapy sessions.

The Observer

Rikke Schmidt Kjaergaard was hospitalised after losing the use of every part of her body, apart from her eyes. She reveals how the love of her family and a steely determination to survive helped her recover against the odds.

Marie Claire

Highly personal, deeply affecting account of what it is to be yanked from a happy, well-ordered life and thrust into a sudden, unimaginable, terrifying darkness.

Bill Bryson

It’s a wonderful meditation on the human condition and a testament to the power of love. It was heartbreaking and lifeaffirming in equal measure. An extraordinary story and a joy to read.

Max Pemberton, author of Trust Me, I’m a Junior Doctor

The book is beautifully written and makes one realise how precious life is… a triumph of the human spirit

Irish Examiner

Consistently compelling… Kjaergaard is remarkably resilient… moving and often startlingly visceral.

Times Literary Supplement

A rich reading experience... an inspirational story of beating the odds.

Kirkus Reviews


Evening Standard

The author of The Blink of an Eye will tell you what it is like to be conscious in a body that cannot respond to the outside world. It will help you understand what conscious is.

Temple Grandin

THE BLINK OF AN EYE stresses the miracle and fragility of life.

Foreword Reviews

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