Martin and Joanna (Joan) Pistorius when they married in June 2009. Picture: Jeff Turnbull.com
Martin and Joanna (Joan) Pistorius when they married in June 2009. Picture: Jeff Turnbull.com

by Martin Pistorius and Megan Lloyd Davies (Simon and Schuster, R165)

Dr Civil Mills of Pretoria, was left paralysed by a motor car accident in 2000.

He developed what he called a locked-in syndrome, a condition in which an individual is fully conscious yet all the body’s voluntary muscles are completely paralysed.

In spite of this he eventually obtained technology that made it possible for him to type his life story. He wrote about it in a book called This Too Will Pass.

Martin Pistorius, also of Pretoria, underwent a similar experience.

In January 1988, at the age of 12, he fell and within 18 months he was mute and in a wheelchair. Doctors could not diagnose the cause of his illness and eventually gave up trying to help him.

They told his parents he had an unknown degenerative disease that had left him with the mind of a baby. This was not true as his mind began to wake up, making him a prisoner inside his unresponsive body.

Ten years later an aromatherapist sensed some part of him was alert and his parents realised that their son was as intelligent as ever.

With no memories from before the time his illness set in, he remained in a wheelchair and unable to speak, but he became adept at computer technology.

Against all odds, he fell in love, married and set up a web design business.

Pretoria surgeon Dr J (Loubie) Loubser, who took an interest in the cases of Mills and Pistorius, says of all the people he has met, Pistorius has impressed him the most.

In his prologue, Pistorius writes that in the room where he was watching TV, the children were lying motionless on the floor or slumped in a seat.

A strap held him upright in his wheelchair. “My body, like theirs, is a prison I can’t escape. When I try to speak, I’m silent; when I will my arm to move, it stays still.”

He continues that there is one difference between him and those children: “My mind leaps and swoops, turns cartwheels, conjuring a lightning flash of glorious colour in a world of grey.

“But no one knows because I can’t tell them. They think I’m an empty shell, which is why I’ve been sitting here listening to Barney or The Lion King day in and day out for the past nine years, and just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, Teletubbies came along.”

He says he is 25 years old, but his memories of the past only begin from the moment he started to come back to life from wherever he had been lost.

This book is deeply moving and tells the heroic battle of recovery and the power of love.

If you have a problem finding the book, call Loubser at 012 333 7029.

If, after you have read this amazing book, you wish to learn more about Pistorius you can visit his website: www.martinpistorius.com. – Cyrus Smith