Martin Pistorius' Unusual Memoir About Life Trapped in an Unresponsive Body

Martin Pistorius’ Unusual Memoir About Life Trapped in an Unresponsive Body

If you hadn’t noticed, my Memoir Mondays are mostly chef memoirs interspersed with the stories of media personalities. I like food and mostly work in media, so of course I like reading about people in those fields, but once in a while a friend will recommend me something outside my usual literary haunts that will totally snag my attention. Ghost Boy: The Miraculous Escape of a Misdiagnosed Boy Trapped Inside His Own Body is something I would never have picked up on my own, with a subject so peculiar and intimate.

Martin Pistorius was 12 years old when he fell into a mysterious coma and regained consciousness only to find his mind to be the only responsive part of his body. What makes this book such a compelling read is the universal horror any sentient person would feel had they been in Pistorius’ position, to be considered not a person but some kind of living object with perhaps no more feeling than a houseplant. That’s what life was like for Pistorius from age 15 to 26.

It’s hard to imagine growing when your body is unresponsive, but grow Pistorius did, through abusive carers and one attentive aromatherapist. It’s a remarkable story that reminds us all that the only difference between the disabled and abled is mostly circumstance and the tiniest of details that make life worth living.

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