39 year old Martin Pistorius from South Africa has spoken about what has to be one of the most brutal ordeals a human could possibly go through — waking up from a coma but being unable to tell anyone.
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Martin fell into a coma aged 12 as a result of a rare and debilitating form of meningitis in the late 80s, which left him unable to move, speak or even make eye contact.
A couple years later he woke up, but still suffering from the debilitating disease he couldn’t communicate this to anyone. His parents Rodney and Joan and all the doctors were completely oblivious, and just expecting him to eventually die.
Martin, now 39 and awake, told NPR:
I was there, not from the very beginning, but about two years into my vegetative state I began to wake up. 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 says all he could do was “think”, but that just began to drive him crazy so he tried to stop thinking altogether.
You simply exist. It’s a very dark place to find yourself because, in a sense, you are allowing yourself to vanish.
Thankfully, Martin’s brain began fully functioning again at 24 and his body soon followed.
His story is being recorded on NPR’s new programme on human behaviour — Invisibilia and you can also check out Martin’s story in his own words in his book ‘Ghost Boy: My Escape From a Life Locked Inside My Own Body’.
You literally would not wish this on your worst enemy. Pure torture in every sense imagineable. Imagine your parents sat over you in hospital and you can’t even talk to them or even make them aware that you can actually hear them talking to you. I would honestly prefer to be dead. That part about his exhausted mum saying “I hope you die”? Brutal to not be able to respond to that.
If any of my friends or family ever find themselves in a coma (touch wood), I’m treating them like they’re awake all the way. Just in case.