Martin Pistorius was just 12 years old when a mysterious illness began slowly robbing him of his ability to walk, talk, or communicate on any level. Finally, he descended into a vegetative state that left the doctors baffled and his family despairing. His parents were told to “take their son home because his time left was limited.” But his time wasn’t limited. “Martin just kept going, just kept going,” said his mother.
The first two years, Martin was indeed in a coma-like condition, motionless, unresponsive, and utterly unconscious. But some two years into his ordeal, his mind began to wake up. Unfortunately, his mind was the only thing that began to awaken. Martin was soon fully conscious, but unable to communicate with the outside world. No one, not even his closest caretakers or doctors knew that he could hear and see everything going on around him.
Martin felt trapped, claustrophobic, terrified, and felt that he would surely go insane. His lowest moment came when he heard his mother say, “I hope you die.” So full of despair, she later (unsuccessfully) attempted to take her own life. As for his father, “For the next decade, his father's life consisted of getting up early in the morning, driving his helpless son to a special care center, then picking him up eight hours later and driving him home, where he would be bathed, fed and put to bed,” reports the UK DAILY MAIL.
But Martin remained trapped in a frozen body. “‘I knew who I was and where I was, and understood I’d been robbed of a real life.”
Suddenly, after more than a decade of imprisonment within his own body, Martin began to once again feel his members. Slowly and painstakingly, movement followed, and then came rigorous rehabilitation. In his late 20s, he learned to use a computer to speak. Soon after, he got a government job. Then he graduated from college with a degree in computer science, started his own web design company and married his wife Joanna in 2008.
“Martin Pistorious' story may sound far-fetched,” reports Snopes.com, “but The National Institute of Neurological Orders and Stroke states ‘locked-in syndrome’ is in fact a real disorder:
Locked-in syndrome is a rare neurological disorder characterized by complete paralysis of voluntary muscles in all parts of the body except for those that control eye movement. It may result from traumatic brain injury, diseases of the circulatory system, diseases that destroy the myelin sheath surrounding nerve cells, or medication overdose. Individuals with locked-in syndrome are conscious and can think and reason, but are unable to speak or move. The disorder leaves individuals completely mute and paralyzed. Communication may be possible with blinking eye movements.
Martin’s amazing and unbelievable story is once again in the news thanks to a recent book THE GHOST BOY and a new NPR radio show Invisibilia which featured Martin’s story in its first episode January 9, 2015.
It's hard to imagine the claustrophobic fear, or the hopeless bondage of being "locked-in" one's own body, unable to walk, talk or communicate with the outside world. Sadly, there is an even more fearful bondage, one that is far more common. It's the vegetative state suffered by every person who is cut off from God by sin. Though robbed of real life, they do not live without hope. For in Christ, even those who are "dead in transgressions and sins" can find newness of life (Ephesians 2:1).
In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope" (Ephesians 2:12, NLT).
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:4-5).