My Book – In The Blink of an Eye


“It’s hard to explain what it’s like being in a coma. A coma is a weird place, like a dream but all messed up. I remember being sat in a chair in a big open room with a needle stuck in my arm and being starved of oxygen, feeling very weak and hearing my heart beating very loudly. People were walking past and ignoring me; I felt like I was slipping away and I was so afraid.”

Fear did not come naturally to Peter Coghlan, brown belt karate, jiu-jitsu and kickboxing enthusiast. At just 33 years old, this former soldier had already faced dangers few of us could imagine; mob violence in Northern Ireland, two attempted bombings and a serious battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Yet, having just moved to Perth, Australia with his partner Jade, there was no time to dwell on the past as Peter enjoyed a pre-dinner drink on the patio with friends and family. The future on that hot, sunny evening seemed as bright as the weather until, suddenly, he felt tired and decided to lie down for a nap.
“About four hours later, I awoke feeling confused and agitated. I walked out to my patio where my friends and family were sitting around my bar. I remember feeling very strange and said, ‘I feel like I have had a stroke.’ The others noticed I was slurring my words and they asked me to walk in a straight line up and down the patio. Shortly after this I apparently began vomiting in the garden, but I don’t remember this, nor do I remember taking a shower to make me feel better.”
The journey to hospital was just a blur. The next thing Peter knew was being totally helpless, unable to move and very, very scared. After suffering a massive brain stem stroke, Peter was now imprisoned by his own body; totally paralysed by Locked-in Syndrome (LIS).
Sometimes known as “disease of the walled living” this neurological condition is difficult to diagnose as, owing to their lack of response to stimuli, patients are often assumed to be comatose or in a vegetative state. Main causes are stroke of the basilar artery, brain haemorrhage or injury, damage to the pons area of the brain, and diseases that destroy the myelin sheath which protects nerve cells. Effects are devastating. Unable to move, sufferers retain their cognitive and intellectual powers but can only communicate through vertical eye movements – the only voluntary muscles still functioning. Even this ability may go undetected for some time, usually being spotted by regular carers or close family and friends.

UK Paperback Link…

UK Kindle Link… (Australia)…

LIS is mercifully rare. Unfortunately, there is no cure or treatment to date, the only help available being assistive technology to improve communication. Despite this – just six months and one day after his stroke – Peter Coghlan left Royal Perth Hospital in Shenton Park, Perth and walked back into the sunshine. (See You Tube Link below).
Peter is now well on his way to a full recovery, has been actively involved with charity events and has just tied the knot with Jade! He is also writing a book based on his experiences which he hopes will encourage other sufferers of LIS.

18 thoughts on “My Book – In The Blink of an Eye

  1. Hi Peter, my father in law Bill had a stroke last Thursday. He was in royal Perth and has now been moved to Shenton Park for rehabilitation. We are a big family and are all doing our very best to process what has happened and be strong for Bill. I found your book yesterday morning and had finished it by last night, I couldn’t put it down. You are an inspiration and have given me/ us hope. I hope to get the rest of the family to read your amazing story. Thank you!


    • Hi Stacey,

      So sorry to hear about your father in law, he is in good hands. I big family around him will be sure to help his rehabilitation.
      So pleased to hear that my book inspired – that was the aim and the reason I wrote it!

      Take care and please keep in touch




      • Thank you! Bill is making progress everyday, his Physio is Alicia which is comforting to know how highly you have spoken of her that he is in the best possible hands.


  2. I am a resident of Sydney. We are organizing an event on the 15th June this year. We are bringing a woman whose colleague had a massive brainstem hemorrhage a few years ago. We are showing his documentary film and she will give talk to the audience. We are not an organization but a group of people who support them. This event is not profit making but we simply would like to spread the message. Never give up!! I would like to have your advice. We really want to make this event successful, give people hope and pass the information.
    I hope to hear from you.
    Thank you do much and best regards,


  3. Pingback: In the Blink of an Eye | Stroke Recovery Association of BC

  4. Dear Peter,
    Born: 20 December 1972 (42age)
    Address: 10 Ridgeland Street, Woongarrah, NSW – 2259
    Address: Mountrivers, Doonbeg, Kilkrush, Co. Clare, Ireland
    Spouse: Victoria M. Smyth
    – STROKE ~ 15/03/’12
    – Language, Speech (Therapist)
    – Arm – (R)
    – Leg – (R)
    Seize The Day!!!

    Thomas A. Smyth
    Mountrivers, Doonbeg, Kilrush, Co. Clare – Ireland


  5. Hi Peter..My name is Debbi Wilson & have read your book with great interest…My youngest daughter, 27, sustained a TBI in 2014 & was in RPH for 4 1/2 mths then 8 mths in Fiona Stanley Rehab & now in Brightwater, Oats St Vic Pk…we have a dear friend there Mark who had a stroke & is in Brightwater now too & I have toild him about you & would lovehim to be able to meet you as I would or if your book is a talking book I would love our friend Mark to listen to it or get it in large print…but in reality we would love you to come visit us at Brightwater if at all possible & just inspire & encourage all of us with your enthusiasm & determination

    Thanks Heaps Debbi Wilson


  6. Hi Peter,
    I’m about half way through your book and couldn’t wait til the end to write and say thank you. It all sounds so familiar to what my family are going through at the moment and reading about your recovery has given me great strength to support my Mum. She was in a car accident last October and one of her injuries was a brain stem bleed. A month in ICU, a month in Trauma, a month in the spinal ward and now finally she’s at Fiona Stanley and beginning rehab. All the stages you have gone through in your book, a tracheostomy, a catheter, a nasal-gastric feeding tube as well as the first time she opened her eyes and the first wiggle of a thumb were all painfully recognisable. Of course I had to skip to the end to see how it all worked out for you and this has given both Mum and I great hope that recovery is possible. It’s strange how many doctors forget to tell us this. Nobody knows what level of independence or recovery they will achieve but knowing that it is possible, that there is some hope, is the greatest bit of medicine.
    So I just wanted to say thanks for giving Mum and I that inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Peter
    I just listened to your interview with Richard Fidler on ABC local. It totally moved me, close to the point of tears. It left me with an appreciation of all the simple things, that we all take for granted. I cant imagine what you went through, but I’m so glad that you have made it through, you’re a tough bloke! I just wanted to wish you continued recovery and great success in your new pursuits, you earn’t it.

    God Bless. Tony


  8. hi Peter,
    Your book has been what I have been looking for. numerous times I asked my physios is full recovery possible? you are now my inspiration thank you for sharing you story and all the best in the future, I was given you book by Nancy B fellow volie at FSH so grateful to have read you book.


  9. Hi Peter, your story is extremely inspirational. You met my father Allan, a fellow stroke victim at a meeting last week and you gave him some positive advice which, I’m very appreciative for.
    Christine, my step-mother is amazed at the extent of your recovery. Well done on yourself achievements to date.


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