SOUTH AFRICA - For 12 years, Martin Pistorius says he was trapped inside his own body.
Doctors in South Africa were not sure what caused him to go into a coma, but some believe it was cryptococcal meningitis.
Eventually, his condition worsened and he lost all ability to move, speak or make eye contact with his family.
Physicians said he would die, but his family kept up a routine.
"I don't know if it is truly possible to describe what it was like. There are so many emotions that it is overwhelming, but I often say it was like being a ghost, which is why the title of the book is 'Ghost Boy," Pistorius told WGN. "You can hear, see and understand everything around you but you have absolutely no power over anything. For me, the feeling of complete and utter powerlessness is probably the worst feeling I have ever experienced. And if I can help it, I never want to experience it again."
"It is like you don't exist. Every single thing in your life is decided by somebody else. Everything, from what you wear to what you eat and drink, even if you eat or drink, to where you will be tomorrow or next week, and there is nothing you can do about it. I also think people don't realize what a pivotal role communication plays. Communication is one of those things that you never notice or think about until you can't. I have, on occasion, suggested people go a day without speaking. "
He said a psychiatrist finally realized he could understand and communicate when she noticed that he could smile and move his head.
"There is always hope, no matter how tiny, " he said.