This is something that’s taken from the nightmares: being trapped inside your own body, completely aware of your surroundings and not being able to communicate with anyone.
When Martin Pistorius was 12, he went into a coma. For the next 13 years, Martin was in a residential care home. The doctors said he had no idea what was going on around him.
But horrifyingly, Martin woke up at the age of 14 – and could see and hear everything.
It is still unknown what mysterious illness struck Martin in 1987. He came home from school with a sore throat one day, and soon after stopped eating and communicating, and was sleeping most of the time.
Slowly, he began to lose control of his body, and after several treatments, the doctors told his parents that he was left with the brain of a baby. They told Martin’s family that they should take him home and prepare for him to die soon.
Martin spent more than a decade in a nursing home, unable to speak or move.
“For many years I was a ghost. I could hear and see everything, but it was like I wasn’t there. I was invisible”, Martin said.
Communicating with a computer that speaks the words he types, he now tells the story of a terrifying life of hearing and seeing things around him that he shouldn’t have seen – but being unable to do anything about.
He even heard his mother tell him in a moment of despair that he should die.
“It broke my heart”, he says, “but at the same time, while I’m trying to get past all my feelings, I only felt love and compassion for my mother”.
His mother now feels terrible for saying those words to her son, but Martin sees things differently.
“My mother often felt that she was not a good mother, that she could not take care of me. One of the hardest things was that I couldn’t tell her that, ‘No, you’re doing a wonderful job'”.
It wasn’t until 2001, when a new employee arrived at the care home, that Martin’s nightmare began to show light at the end of the tunnel.
The nurse spent many hours next to Martin talking to him and telling him stories, and suddenly she noticed a sparkle in his eyes, and other small signs. She realized that Martin was much more aware than
She urged Martin’s parents to have him tested at a specialist center, a center for alternative communication. And finally, Martin could communicate with the world for the first time in two decades.
“She was the catalyst that changed everything. If it wasn’t for her, I would probably be dead by now or I would have been forgotten in some institute somewhere”, Martin said about the therapist who helped him.
A new life
Martin’s life today could not be more different than his days at daycare. He is now married, and lives with his wife in the UK. And they now hope to start a family.
His scars from the years as the ‘ghost boy’ have not completely healed. Martin still suffers from flashbacks, but is mostly grateful for his life today.
“Life can change quickly, so it’s important to appreciate what you have right now”, Martin said, and continued:
“Treat everyone with kindness, respect, compassion and dignity – regardless of what you think they understand or not. Never underestimate the power of the mind, the importance of love and hope, and never stop
If you wanted proof that there are angels in the world, then the daycare nurse was definitely Martin’s angel. It’s scary to imagine the experience he went through, and to think where he would be
today if not for the kind-hearted nurse who took the time to see Martin communicate.
Share Martin’s amazing story with the people close to you to help and wish him a long and happy life.
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