Can you imagine losing control over the function of your body, and then your mind checking you out on what is going on around you without any logical explanation? The people around you are not able to understanding or able to explain what is happening to you or why. You continue to progress towards certain death, and then one day for no apparent reason, the process begins to reverse. This is exactly what happened to Martin Pistorius for over a decade, which earned him the nickname “Ghost Boy.”
From birth, Martin seemed to be just as normal as other children. He grew from infancy to being a toddler with the usual terrible two’s, and into early childhood without a hitch. Check-ups were healthy, and Martin ran around playing just like a normal boy until he entered his prepubescent years.
During Martin’s 12th year, he began being sent home sick from school. Martin, his parents, and two siblings had no idea that this was the beginning of a quick decline down to the point of losing their son while he was still present.
In a short time, Martin lost control of his muscle movements and then began having a difficult time communicating with others. His parents took him to doctors without a firm diagnosis or explanation of Martin’s state. Doctors were perplexed, but they did believe what was happening would continue to progress and take Martin’s life.
Doctors ran all the tests, asked all kinds of questions, and monitored Martin in hopes of figuring out the cause of his rapid decline in his health. The closest they came to a diagnosis was cryptococcal meningitis, a neurological disorder that is a progressive disease that leads to an early death for the person.
By this time, Martin was in what is referred to as a semi-vegetative state. When someone is in this state, the eyes are open, but they do not see, they may have involuntary muscle movements, but no purposeful movements. They are unresponsive to anything around them and not in control of their body. The expectation was for Martin to have a short life in this “vegetable” state.
During this time, Martin was unaware of what was going on around him because his senses were unable to take in information and process it the way most people do while they are awake.
Martin continued to grow and physically change, and those around him continued to grow and change as life does. Martin required full care. He would be propped in a wheelchair to appear awake like everyone else, and almost like a living doll he was moved around the house, but unable to respond to his loving family.
Martin’s family took care of him, but they also prepared themselves for the worst.
As Martin’s mother watched her beloved son deteriorate into a shell of his former self, she began to hope for his suffering to stop. During an interview with NBC News, she confessed to hoping that Martin would die.
She went on to say how she knew it was an awful thing for a mother to think, but she wanted both of them to have some peace. His mother told everyone that she knew Martin had heard her say this, but as with other things, he could not respond.
After a few years in this semi-vegetative state and his family fearing the worst, Martin began to show signs of a miracle in action.
Martin later tells that one day around 16 years old, he just “woke up” and started to be aware of what was going on around him again. It’s like all of his senses were suddenly unblocked to open his mind to his environment.
Martin continued to heal, and by the time he was 19 years old, he was aware of himself and his surroundings again. He was unable to speak, but he showed signs that he was aware and lucid. The family knew it was a miracle because there was no explanation for the changes Martin was experiencing.
While his senses and mind were waking up, his body continued to refuse to get with the program.
Thinking back, Martin reported feeling like a ghost while he was in the vegetative state. Being like a ghost, he remembers observing people when they thought no one was looking.
It was Martin’s occupational therapist that first noticed that Martin would have a response to certain statements or questions asked. She realized that Martin was aware and understanding what was happening around him.
Gradually, as Martin’s mind worked more, so did his body. He started the long process of regaining control over his muscles.
Despite his progress, Martin continued to be without speech. In today’s world, the advances in technology make speech happen through computers. Martin was wired up with a computer and took to a wheelchair to getting around.
Martin continued to work on his physical health and relearn the many things he knew and did before his illness. To the joy of everyone, he started taking driving lessons, something his family never thought he would be able to do!
From learning to drive, Martin then went on to college and graduated. All things no one ever thought possible.
Not unlike other young men, Martin grew interested in women. Martin’s appearance was not appealing to all women, but as they say, there is someone out there for everyone, and Martin finally met his match.
In 2008, during a family web chat session, Martin met Joanna, his little sister’s friend. The two quickly became friends and started chatting regularly.
Joanna lived in Britain, and she suggested Martin come there for the two to meet face to face. Martin was nervous, but how could he say no? After meeting, the two quickly fell more deeply in love.
As the two couldn’t stand to be apart, they couldn’t wait to be married. Now they have dreams of the fairytale ending and living happily ever after.