Would you believe it!

Hello everybody,

Just a quick note to show off a little… I wrote this post all by myself! At last, I am connected to the world at last, albeit somewhat slower than usual. This is due to the joys of voice recognition software which since having to wear my ventilator full-time I had deemed redundant. I am obviously delighted to learn otherwise and look forward enormously to speaking with you all on a one-to-one basis.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank every contributor to the blog since we started, old and new, as your words of support and encouragement really do spur us on.

I will sign off now as I hadn’t realised how tiring talking to your computer can be.

Much love,


Neil had tried to use voice recognition software before, he had bought an off-the-shelf secretarial version when he first began to find typing difficult. He had given up his laptop because it made his wrists ache to reach the keys. We then bought a PC with a wireless keyboard so that he could put the keyboard on his lap if it hurt and it gave him an altogether better posture as he was looking straight ahead at the screen instead of slightly downward, easing strain on his neck and shoulders. This worked for a while but eventually it became too tiring for his arms and then his hands began to lose dexterity. These changes were cruel. There was little way to decipher whether something was only difficult for a day or if it had gone forever.

I remember him being briefly impressed with his off-the-shelf software solution, but it soon had to recognise more swear words than anything else, and wasn’t long before it lay untouched. There was a brief revival when friends came to visit and suggested using a better quality microphone, which worked but was very sensitive to any surrounding noise. As Neil said, he had to give up on it when the ventilator became full time. The inescapable whirring sound caused too much interference and once again, a lot of swearing.

Until this post, most of the blog had been dictated either through myself or willing visitors. The new voice recognition software gave him back his voice unfiltered, without someone sitting next to him, and he really started to open up his thoughts. Just a few weeks before, he had expressed how important communication was in his Advance Directive, so the joviality of this post is not to be underestimated.

It still wasn’t easy for him, it took a lot of physical effort to speak to the computer and even this short post would have taken him around an hour.  Neil had to be in a room on his own due to noise interference and I had to be very aware of the change in his voice over the baby monitor. I had to listen out for any difficulty, demands or choking (although I do remember my mind wandering a few times and suddenly realising the swearing over the baby monitor was aimed at me and not the machine). He had to time his words, he could fit in three at the most on an outbreath and sometimes the ventilator would cause a burping sound in his voice so he would have to delete and start again. Quite often his microphone would stop being effective and needed to be re-positioned.

I’m glad there is a sequence of Neil battling his way through writing a post in I AM BREATHING, as the words he wrote never disclosed the effort behind them. – Louise (2013)

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Showing 2 reactions

commented 2013-04-11 16:07:44 +0100
Comments on Neil’s original blog post:

December 15, 2008 at 6:31 pm
Clever bugger!

( I’m referring to the pc of course:p)

Can’t stop thinking about you today neilly

Oodles of love


Lisa Stefanski
December 16, 2008 at 10:40 am
Well done Mr.Platt.
Just take it easy and don’t wear yourself out. You need to be as fit as a fiddle for Christmas.
You are all constantly in our thoughts.

Lots of love, Lula, Rick and boys xx

Aunty Pau’s & Uncle Mel
December 16, 2008 at 11:40 am
You really are a smartie pants! Love you loads
Aunty Pau’s xxxx

Chris Stringfellow
December 16, 2008 at 3:26 pm

Glad to see my visit was helpful, and tha tyou have used some of what we discussed. Hope everything goes well,


December 16, 2008 at 4:53 pm
Brilliant Neil! You are in my thoughts every day.

Keep smiling!


December 16, 2008 at 11:52 pm
Same old platty making excuses and blaming the equipment.
Yesterday I had a AS student trying to see inside a building and she came up with acetate overlay so that the outside could be removed to reveal the contents. Can you remember someone doing the same on a Furse dimmer? It brought back memories………

December 17, 2008 at 12:43 am
Glad to hear you’re able to do this yourself, mate. Echoing Tim’s post as well.

Now, what’s this I hear about Half-Job Vickery getting dressed up as an Elf?

December 17, 2008 at 3:04 pm
Hey Neil,

Glad thats all worked out mate!

Keep thinkng about you all the time and i’m looking forward to dropping in with loretta on our way back from the granite city just after chrimbo. I’ll call you guys before hand to sort it out.

Much love


December 17, 2008 at 3:47 pm
Does this mean no-ones checking the grammar now! If there are photos of Simon dressed as an Elf it would be in the public interest to release them. You know that you can put video on the blog!!

December 17, 2008 at 10:22 pm
You guys are inspirational.


December 19, 2008 at 10:04 pm
We demand Vickery elf action!!

It would be in his elf- interest and entirely elfish not to do so!
@breathingfilm tweeted this page. 2013-03-26 12:12:26 +0000
Is Neil's swearing directed at the voice recognition software or at Louise in the other room? #Plattitude http://www.iambreathingfilm.com/would_you_believe_it?recruiter_id=2
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