Health

'It's A Very Dark Place': Man Explains Being Locked In His Body For Years

| by Sean Kelly
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A man who was in a vegetative state for 12 years emerged with an incredible experience to share with the world that’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard.

Martin Pistorius, who grew up in South Africa, was hospitalized at 12 years old for what doctors called cryptococcal meningitis. His condition got worse quickly, and he was soon unable to speak or move. Pistorius’ parents were told that their son would remain in the vegetative state he was in until he eventually died. According to The Blaze, the Pistorius family went home, intending to keep Martin comfortable until he passed. That day, however, never came.

“Martin just kept going, just kept going,” Pistorius’ mother, Joan, said.

Rodney Pistorius said the next 12 years were often difficult. He told NPR that he would wake up every morning and dress his son, then take him to a special care facility. At the end of the day, he would pick him up and take him home. When they returned home, Rodney would “bathe him, feed him, put him in bed, set my alarm for two hours so that I’d wake up to turn him so that he didn’t get bedsores.”

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Joan said that the pain of seeing their son in such a state was so unbearable that she once told him she hoped he’d die. “I know that’s a horrible thing to say. I just wanted some sort of relief,” she said.

For years, Pistorius’ condition never improved. One day, however, he began to emerge. Suddenly, while still being unable to talk or move, he was aware of everything going on around him.

“Yes, I was there, not from the very beginning, but about two years into my vegetative state,” Pistorius said. “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.”

Pistorius said that being trapped in his own body was an often dark and lonely experience.

“You don’t really think about anything. You simply exist. It’s a very dark place to find yourself because, in a sense, you are allowing yourself to vanish,” he said. “As time passed, I gradually learned to understand my mother’s desperation. Every time she looked at me, she could see only a cruel parody of the once-healthy child she had loved so much.”

Pistorius even recalled thinking at one point becoming convinced that no one would ever be able to love him.

Over time, Pistorius began to improve thanks to “inexplicable neurological developments and a painstaking battle to prove he existed.” He is now married and lives in Harlow, England. He published a memoir about his life titled “Ghost Boy: My Escape From a Life Locked Inside My Own Body.”

Pistorius said that he remembers nearly everything that happened around him during his initial period of awareness, and particularly remembers the care center constantly playing reruns of Barney.

“I cannot even express to you how much I hated Barney.”

Sources: The Blaze, NPR / Photo Credit: theblaze.com, Martin Pistorius via NPR