“I Was Aware Of Everything”: Man Awakens From 12-Year Coma

“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. “

When we think of a continuous vegetative state we usually think of a person who has no sense of where they are, of time passing, or any awareness of those around them. For Martin Pistorius that was not the case.

In 1987, at age 12, Martin fell victim to cryptococcal meningitis and soon after went into a vegetative state that doctors said he would never recover from. Indeed, they said he’d die soon but he didn’t. He lingered in this state for 12 years while his parents painstakingly took care of him. Pistorius, now a healthy 39-year-old, says he was aware of everything almost the entire time. From NPR:

“Yes, I was there, not from the very beginning, but about two years into my vegetative state, I began to wake up.”

“I was aware of everything, just like any normal person.”

These were his thoughts:

“No one will ever show me tenderness. No one will ever love me.”

“You are doomed.”

I never felt angry with my parents as I knew they loved me and they did the best they could. But I felt furious about the situation. There were many times when I cried inside. I reached a point where I essentially gave up.”

Being locked inside his body, Pistorius also had to hear some things that no child should have to hear, specifically his mother’s desperate wish, spoken out loud in his presence, that he die.

“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 says that as he reoriented his thoughts, his body began to respond, and he started to be able to make small movements.

…one day, in an incredible twist of fate, Pistorius’ aromatherapist, Virna van der Walt, picked up on his subtle “language” — virtually imperceptible smiles, gazes and nods he used to indicate he was paying attention. He was about 25.

Soon after, his parents bought him a computer with a communications software package that allowed him to begin communicating with his family. His progress took off.

He taught himself to read and write and create websites. He graduated from university and, in 2003, was able to get a job. In 2009, against all previous odds, he married his girlfriend Joanna who, he says, has taught him his greatest lesson.

“It was she (Joanna) who has taught me to understand the true meaning of the Bible passage we were having read at the service: ‘There are three things that will endure — faith, hope and love — and the greatest of these is love’,” Pistorius said.

“My life has encompassed all three and I know the greatest of all is indeed love, in all its forms. I’d experienced it as a boy and man, as a son, brother, grandson and friend, I’d seen it between others and I know it could sustain us through the darkest of times. Now it was lifting me closer to the sun than I ever thought I would fly.” TC mark

featured image – Twitter

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