In 2005, Tony Nicklinson, 57, suffered a stroke while on a business trip to Athens. Doctors saved his life, but the incident left him with “locked-in syndrome” — in which he is almost completely paralyzed and can only communicate through small head movements and by blinking his eyes.
Now, however, he’s found a new way to reach out to others: last week the British father of two joined Twitter, and today he has more than 14,000 followers. On June 13, Nicklinson wrote:
He uses a specially designed computer which records his blinks and head movements to communicate his thoughts; and the system has been adapted to the social networking site to allow him to tweet and debate.
Nicklinson has been campaigning for the right to die due to his condition – which he has described as subjecting him to being treated “like a baby – only I won’t grow out of it,” – and earlier this year won the right to ask a court to allow a doctor to end his life for him, with the hearing planned for later this month.
His wife Jane told The Daily Telegraph: “He has never been one to be shy with what he says, this is something where he can do that … He had to be coaxed in to doing it and I hope he will continue, I think it might be good for him … We know that there might be people on there who are very vocal about how they disagree [with him] but we are prepared for that.”
A television documentary on Nicklinson and his fight for the right to die airs in the UK on Channel 4 Monday night.