"I Wish You Were Dead," Mother Told Her Son Who Spent 10 Years Awake But Locked In Unresponsive Body
A story of the ‘ghost boy’ who spent ten years as a prisoner inside his own body shocked people around the globe. This boy is Martin Pistorius from South Africa, and here is his heartbreaking story.
‘I was a normal kid until one day…’
Martin Pistorius was just 12 when he was diagnosed with a severe brain condition which turned his life upside down.
When he returned home from school with a sore throat one day, he stopped eating, and started sleeping all day long. Soon, the boy almost stopped communicating with his family. Eventually, Martin lost control over his body.
Doctors kept saying there was something wrong with the boy’s brain, but they didn’t know exactly what the reason was. After numerous diagnoses, specialists still couldn’t figure out the reason for his condition. They told the desperate parents that their son’s brain is dead and there was nothing else they could do to help him.
A ghost boy
Since that time, Martin spent a decade in this condition - at home and in daycare centers, unable to move or speak.
For so many years, I was like a ghost. I could hear and see everything, but it was like I wasn't there. I was invisible.
Pistorius felt terrified at that time when he realized his complete powerlessness. Every single aspect of his life was controlled by his parents and medical staff. They decided whether he wanted to eat, sit, or lie down. Martin tried many times to signal his consciousness, but no one could hear him.
All Martin’s family was deeply affected by his disease. It was his mother who suffered most of all because of her son’s condition. One night, after his parents had quarreled, his mother turned to her son and — unaware he could hear — told him the words she would regret for the rest of her life. She said:
I wish you were dead.
Later, Martin confessed he understood why his mother said that:
It broke my heart. But at the same time, particularly as I worked through all the emotions, I felt only love and compassion for my mother.
Martin spent 10 years in this condition until a new worker at his care center began to sit and talk with him. It was Virna van der Walt who first began to see tiny signals that made her realize Pistorius was more aware than people thought.
Martin was transferred to the Center for Augmentative and Alternative Communication where he could show people that his brain is not dead. He began communicating with the help of special equipment. At first, he was limited to basic phrases, like "I am uncomfortable," or "I want to eat.” Nevertheless, it was a huge progress for the kid who spent a decade as a prisoner inside his own body.
Martin had to relearn doing many things: from reading to communicating with other people. But he felt so good with the ability to make choices by himself.
Today, Martin Pistorius is 42. He works as a web designer. Besides, he proved his talent as a writer. His book "Ghost Boy" published in 2001, in which he describes living with "locked-in syndrome," became a bestseller all over the world.
Martin is also a loving husband. He met his wife Joanna in 2008, and one year later the couple got married. The lovebirds dream to have kids one day.
Now, Pistorius tries to focus on his future rather than his past. He forgave his mom for telling him he should have died many years ago. In his book, Martin shares one very important advice, which he hopes can help other people be more grateful for what they have:
Life can change so quickly, that it is good to appreciate what you have at this moment. Treat everyone with kindness, dignity, compassion, and respect — irrespective of whether you think they understand or not.