Imagine being unable to say, "I am hungry," "I am in pain," "thank you," or "I love you,” — losing your ability to communicate, being trapped inside your body, surrounded by people yet utterly alone.
For 13 long years, that was Martin Pistorius’s reality. After contracting a brain infection at the age of twelve, Pistorius lost his ability to control his movements and to speak, and eventually he failed every test for mental awareness. He had become a ghost.
But then a strange thing started to happen — his mind began to knit itself back together. In this moving talk, Pistorius tells how he freed himself from a life locked inside his own body.
Martin Pistorius is a South African freelance web designer, developer, and author, best known for his 2011 book Ghost Boy, in which he describes living with locked-in syndrome and being unable to move for 12 to 14 years. He began losing voluntary motor control and eventually fell into a coma for three years. He began regaining consciousness around age 16 and achieved full consciousness by age 19, although he was still completely paralyzed with the exception of his eyes.
He was unable to communicate with other people until his caregiver Virna van der Walt noticed that he could use his eyes to respond to things she said. She sent him to the University of Pretoria for testing, where they confirmed he was conscious and aware of his surroundings.
His parents then gave him a speech computer, and he began slowly regaining some upper body functions. In 2008 he met his wife Joanna through his sister Kim and in 2009 the pair was married. He co-wrote his autobiography Ghost Boy with Megan Lloyd Davies, which was published in 2011. As of 2011, Pistorius has regained limited control over his head and arms but still needs his speech computer to communicate with others.
Hear this miraculous tale straight from the horse’s mouth :