Martin Pistorius fell into a coma when he was 12-years-old in the 1980s. He couldn’t speak, make eye contact or move his limbs. He was diagnosed with ‘cryptococci meningitis’ and doctors recommended that he be taken home to die.
The nightmare of being aware of everything around you when others have given up.
Martin ended up living 12 years in a “vegetative state.”He refused to give up. However, he recalls the nightmare of being aware that others had given up on him and being unable to communicate his ability to think and feel with them around him.
“My mind was trapped inside a useless body, my arms and legs weren’t mine to control and my voice was mute. I couldn’t make a sign or sounds to let anyone know I’d become aware again. I was invisible – the ghost boy.”
And during those 12 years, according to the Pistorius family, there was never any indication that Martin’s condition was improving.
One day, Joan, in a state of hopelessness, told her son, “I hope you die.”
She never imagined that Martin would have understood those dreadful words.
But by the time he was 14 or 15 years old, Martin began to awaken.
“Yes, I was there, not from the very beginning, but about two years into my vegetative state, I began to wake up,” Martin recalls. “I was aware of everything, just like any normal person. Everyone was so used to me not being there that they didn’t notice when I began to be present again. The stark reality hit me that I was going to spend the rest of my life like that – totally alone.”
Martin had even heard his mother’s cruel words.
“You don’t really think about anything,” he said. “You simply exist. It’s a very dark place to find yourself because, in a sense, you are allowing yourself to vanish.”
Martin added, “As time passed, I gradually learned to understand my mother’s desperation. Every time she looked at me, she could see only a cruel parody of the once-healthy child she had loved so much.”
At the care center every day, Martin’s caregivers played “Barney” reruns. They too believed he was a vegetable.
He said, “I cannot even express to you how much I hated Barney.”
Now Martin, 39, is in full control of his body. He’s married and lives a normal life in Harlow, England.
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