The thought of being in a coma is scary for anybody, the thought of being in a coma while aware of everything that is going on in your life is truly terrifying, but for one man there was a happy ending.
12 year old Martin Pistorius from South Africa was a totally healthy boy before he got very sick with a mystery disease, which we now know to be Locked-in syndrome.
The symptoms included sleeping all the time, lost his appetite and wasn’t able to walk.
Doctors wasn’t able to figure out what was going on, initial diagnoses was Martin had cryptococcal meningitis and tuberculosis of the brain. Doctors ran out of options, they could only recommend my illness run its course.
The last family photo before Martin Pistorius slipped into his coma.
When Martin was 12 and in the coma, he said he remembered feeling like an empty shell. When he was 14, he started having more thoughts whilst in the coma.
He gradually became more aware of what was going on around him.
There were times Martin can recall moments in history unfolding. ‘Mandela becoming president in 1994 is a hazy memory but princess Diana’s death in 1997 is clear. My mind began to awaken at about the age of 16, in around 1992. By the age of 19 it was fully intact: I knew who I was and where I was, and understood I’d been robbed of a real life.’
One day, Virna van der Walt—an aromatherapist and one of Pistorius’s day carers—began noticing that Pistorius would react to specific statements and questions
she made. Upon her recommendations, Pistorius was sent to the Centre For Augmentative And Alternative Communication at the University of Pretoria around age 25.
There, they confirmed that he was aware and could respond to statements.
From there onwards, Martin was on the way to recovery.
It’s a heart breaking story, but it ends on a positive note, Martin met his wife Joanna in 2008 and married in 2009. They now live happily in the UK. If you want to read Martins
Story, you can get the book here