From one day to the next, Martin, who was born in 1975 in Johannesburg, South Africa, was becoming weaker and weaker. He lost his voice, stopped eating and eventually lost control over his motor skills. Doctors believed this was caused by cryptococcal meningitis and after 18 months, he was completely mute and mostly just slept. After informing his family that the boy had just two years left to live, they sent him home where they would need to look after him.
Around the clock care
Martin’s mother and father had to completely change their lives in order to take care of their son. During an interview with a news source called NPR, Rodney Pistorius explained that he used to set his alarm for five in the morning so that he could take his son to a specialist clinic where he would leave him to spend eight hours every day.
Eight hours later, I’d pick him up, bathe him, feed him, put him in bed, set my alarm for two hours so that I’d wake up to turn him so that he didn’t get bed sores.
‘I hope you die’
Martin’s mother Joan was desperate, so much so that she used to whisper that she wished her son would die. She whispered the words in his ear, unaware of the fact that her son could hear everything that was going on around him. Then, as Martin explained, his spirit slowly started to wake up again after about two years.
He was forced to watch his family suffer because of him and wanted more than anything to tell his mother what a good mother she was and what a good job she was doing – but alas he could not. Then he heard this phrase:
I hope you die.
This became a turning point for him and Martin, like so many others before him who have been in a coma for a long time, struggled to come back to the real world.
Thanks to a voice computer, he gradually learned to communicate again. Today, he is a successful web designer, has published a book about his experiences, is married and lives with his wife, a social worker named Joanna, in London.