Every Life is an Open Book

Every Life is an Open Book

Every Life is an Open Book by Guest Blogger Kati Lepistö

It is almost 20 years now. I was 20 years old, a young model living in Los Angeles that was spending the holidays at home with her family in Finland. There I was in the emergency room because I wasn’t feeling well at all. The doctor on duty didn’t consider my case of such emergency because she thought; ‘a model living in LA, it must be overdose’. The fact is that I never did drugs. I was as clean as a whistle, and that misjudgment cost me my mobility. I was having a stroke and as the hours went passing by, and I was not getting the adequate treatment. The outcome of that miserable night was that I was left with this condition called; ‘LOCKED-IN SYNDROME.’ I was almost completely paralyzed; I could not even move my fingers or whisper a word. The only thing I could move were my eyes.

It was like the worst thing that could ever happen. That night my life came tumbling down. At first glance, it seemed that fate just knocked me down flat with its best shot and that the rest of my life would be as miserable as any life can be.

Please let me share a little secret with you; ‘misery is not a reality, it is a state of mind’.

Of course, fate did manage to make me miserable for a while. It did take some time for me to accept reality, to heal my soul, to learn to talk by using my eyes to spell out the words and to learn even how to eat. The fact was that I would never be able to stand on my own again, but that was not going to stop me from being the best that I can be. It will not stop me from living and enjoying my life as much as possible.

The real disabilities in life are not physical. Having a physical disability is nothing more than just a challenge. And if you accept the challenge and give it the best you have, it will not be able to stop you from doing what you want in one way or the other. The only disability that can stop you from being all that you can be is your state of mind and your attitude towards life.

It does not matter if you are in perfect health if you suffer from any condition if you are disabled in any way, old or young, man or woman. Only thing you need is the air to breathe and a good attitude (great attitude), the will to live, a positive attitude and determination to persevere. Nothing that is worth having in life will come fast and easy. But with faith and determination you can and will achieve much more than you can imagine.

At certain moment I decided that if all that I would be able to do is just sit in a chair and look what is going on around me, I will do this looking the best way possible. You might think that I mean looking glamorous, well sometimes yes, but that is not what I mean. Looking good starts with hygiene and the maintenance of oneself; mind, soul and body. A real woman should always look and act like a lady (even in their bitchy moments). So the first step of looking as great as possible is as great as possible. And the only way to do that is by never neglecting yourself, ever. Because before you know, it becomes a habit and soon after it becomes an attitude.

As a woman, we should always enhance ourselves a little. Some makeup and some bling-bling, but we should always remember that our best asset is ourselves, and we should not hide our face behind make-up or lose our image in the shining of the bling. And the one and only truth is; that the best way to enhance yourself is with a true smile. The only thing a woman needs to get the world at her feet is to curl her lips into a smile. And to let her eyes shine (those eyes give the best bling ever, more than any diamond could ever do).

Being in a wheelchair or having any other kind of disability does not give you an excuse to stop taking care of yourself. It does not matter what kind of shape your body is in, it is still the vessel of our souls, and it should be treated with the love and respect that it deserves.

Every single moment of the day (when I am not in bed) I spend tied to my chair. I have to be tied to it because at any given moment my muscles can have a contraction, and if I am not tied down, I could fall out of the chair. I cannot move my hands, and that means that I cannot do anything at all. I need assistant for everything, eating, drinking and yes, also for those things that people, usually, do in private. The only thing that I can do by myself is work on the computer. It is because I can move my neck a little. My computer has this special program in which an infrared camera that is placed on the top of the monitor catches the reflection of a sticker that is placed on my forehead. This stick is my mouse. There is a keyboard display on the screen of my computer, and I type in the letters using the mouse.

Technology surely helps me allot in being all that I can be. It helps me in keeping contact with my family and friends. It helps me when it comes to writing my diaries, my blog and my book. It even played a great role in getting my husband and me together. It has been a ‘blessing’.

If you would ask me what the secret of success is, what is the most important thing that you need to live a great life despite any circumstance? I would say; faith, positivism, determination, perseverance and of course love which starts by loving oneself.

Kati Lepistö

Kati Lepist? kotonaan Mikkeliss?

Links web pages:
Facebook Inspirational Model Page
Video links:
A message from Kati https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcE3tmBFxXU
Kati working on PC
Emilia Lahti talking about Sisu on TEDX and mentions Kati Lepisto

LIS is a condition where the individual is fully conscious and aware with no loss of cognitive function but due to complete paralysis of the voluntary muscles in all parts of the body is unable to communicate verbally or move. (Editor’s note: French movie ‘The Driving Bell and the Butterfly‘ is a tremendously touching, true story of a man, Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffers a sudden, massive stroke similar to that of of Kati’s, and is left with the locked-in syndrome.)

Nowadays Kati is happily married and living a wonderful life even though, she is still paralyzed and cannot move a finger or do anything by herself (except for working on the PC, which she does with a special program). Kati’s main purpose in life is to still be a model, but not just any model: she wants to be an inspirational model. She wants to encourage and empower others to live their life the best way possible and flourish despite the adversities they encounter. Through her incredibly inspiring and hope inducing blog Kati shows that with determination, faith and perseverance anyone can make the best out of their lives.

In 2006, Kati published her autobiography in Finnish “In a blink of an eye”. At the moment, Kati is working on a more extensive autobiography in English. The book is planned to be published in fall.

Kati is one of the main faces for a campaign that is running this year in Finland. The campaign is to promote Sisu, which stands for Grit, perseverance, resilience and more. She is also going to be featured in a British documentary about ‘Locked-In Syndrome’