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Man who was 'locked' inside body for 10 years woke up to tell incredible story

Man who was 'locked' inside body for 10 years woke up to tell incredible story

Martin Pistorius could hear everything despite being in a vegetative state for a decade

When a then 12-year-old Martin Pistorius returned home from school one day with a sore throat, he'd never expected that he was soon to lose a decade of his life.

The condition that doctors had initially believed was a simple case of the flu quickly developed into something that would put him into a coma.

Pistorius, from South Africa, was diagnosed with both cryptococcal meningitis and tuberculosis of the brain, and began receiving treatment for both.

After his body weakened and he lost the ability to speak to speak and move, he was left in a vegetative state - an experience which he discussed in his 2011 book, Ghost Boy.

His parents Joan and Rodney weren't given a conclusive explanation of what had happened to their son but weren't ready to give up on him, keeping him in a care centre.

Speaking to LADbible last year, the now 49-year-old described his coma as like being in ‘an empty shell, unaware of anything around me’.

Martin Pistorius in hospital.

"I was able to hear, see and understand everything around me but I had absolutely no power or control over anything.

"For me, that feeling of complete and utter powerlessness is probably the worst feeling I have ever experienced, and I hope I never have to experience again. It is like you don't exist, every single thing in your life is decided by someone else.

"Everything, from what you wear, to what you eat and drink, even if you eat or drink, to where you will be tomorrow, or next week, and there is nothing you can do about it."

Nobody at the time had realised that Pistorius had regained consciousness and was taking in everything around him.

He even remembered having no choice but to watch reruns of Barney in the special care centre.

Martin and his dad Rodney.

“I cannot even express to you how much I hated Barney,” he'd previously declared in an interview with NPR.

His mum Joan also admitted at the time that there were times she struggled to come to terms with her son’s condition.

In his memoir, he recalls sitting in his wheelchair one day when his mum said to him: "I hope you die."

The comment affected him and made him feel ‘very sad and upset’, but he ‘understood where that was coming from’.

In order to keep his sanity, he’d use his imagination: "I'd imagine all sorts of things, like being very small and climbing into a spaceship and flying away. Or that my wheelchair would magically transform into a flying vehicle.

"I would sometimes watch things move, whether it be how sunlight moved throughout the day.

"Or watching insects of some sort scurry about, but, really, I lived in my mind to the point where at times I was oblivious to the world around me."

In 2001, when Pistorius was 25, a relief carer at the day centre, Virna van der Walt, encouraged his parents to take him to the Centre For Augmentative And Alternative Communication at the University Of Pretoria.

It was there that a researcher held up a sheet of paper with symbols on it, and he was asked to locate a ball with his eyes.

After finding the shape, he was asked to find the dog.

Martin Pistorius and his wife Joanna.

Nearly 13 years after he became ill, he was able to reveal that he was conscious and able to communicate.

His parents invested in a computer which was preloaded with communication software - similar to the technology used by the late theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.

Pistorius would select letters, words or symbols on the device using a band attached to his head, which would act like a mouse.

Following his recovery, Martin began working with van der Walt in 2003 at the care centre.

He then met the love of his life, Joanna, who worked as a social worker. They got married in 2009 in Essex.

They welcomed a son, Sebastian Albert Pistorius, in 2018 and Pistorius often shares pictures of his family on Instagram.

He now works as a computer scientist and web developer.

Featured Image Credit: Supplied

Topics: Health, World News