Man Recalls Years Awake but Trapped in Unresponsive Body
Born in South Africa in 1975, Martin Pistorius suddenly began to succumb to a mysterious illness when he was 12. After going home from school with a sore throat one day, he stopped eating, started sleeping almost constantly, and stopped communicating.
He gradually began to lose control of his body. He was treated for both cryptococcal meniningitis and tuberculosis of the brain — but no one really knew what was wrong. Doctors told his parents he was left with the mind of a baby and that they should take him home to die.
But he lived on. Pistorius left the hospital but spent more than a decade at home and in day care centers unable to move or speak. His family was told he was unaware of the world around him, but he says he actually began to wake up a couple of years after he became ill.
“For so many years, I was like a ghost. I could hear and see everything, but it was like I wasn’t there. I was invisible,” Pistorius told NBC News in an interview in his hometown in Essex county, England — his first U.S. television appearance.”