TIL of Martin Pistorius, a man who fell into a coma at age twelve. He was trapped in his body for 12 years. When he showed signs of recovery, his mum quit her job and worked with him for two years, teaching him to speak with a computer. He went on to get a degree, learn to drive, and get married.

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This is a remarkable case of locked-in syndrome – a rare case where the patient makes an incredible recovery. After contracting meningitis at the age of 12, Martin mentally and physically declined rapidly, ending up in a vegetative, non-responsive state > He got progressively worse. Eventually he lost his ability to move by himself, his ability to make eye contact, and then, finally, his ability to speak. That is, until 2 years later when he started to wake up: > “I was aware of everything, just like any normal person,” Martin says. > But although he could see and understand everything, he couldn’t move his body. > “Everyone was so used to me not being there that they didn’t notice when I began to be present again,” he says. “The stark reality hit me that I was going to spend the rest of my life like that — totally alone.” > He was trapped, with only his thoughts for company. And they weren’t particularly nice thoughts. Like when his mother told him in desperation, “I hope you die”, with the belief that he couldn’t hear her. He could. For nearly a decade, Martin’s mind was trapped inside an unresponsive body: > Since all the world thought Martin was a vegetable, at the special care center where he spent his days he was often in front of the TV watching reruns of the children’s cartoon hour after hour, day after day. > […] “I cannot even express to you how much I hated Barney,” Martin says. Martin is now ~~39~~ in his mid-forties and his life has now recovered a large degree of normality, as per the TIL title.


I know about this guy! I read the book he wrote, Ghost Boy. It’s really amazing and now he gives talks about his experience. The book also reveals he was not only ignored during those years when he was conscious but couldn’t move – he was also abused in multiple ways. If you decide to read his book please be aware of the chapters that include that as it can be graphic. I read it as part of a class on how to assess and treat children with speech and language disorders. We used it to discuss ethics, the role of the family, the things the clinicians in his life did correctly and incorrectly, etc. Worth a read for everyone!


All I can think about is how fast my family would’ve just smashed that ‘unsubscribe’ button.


Not to be confused with Oscar Pistorious, the athlete that shot his wife.


Sadly, the article doesnt explain how he started to get in control of his body and how the others noticed something was changing!