For more than a decade, Martin Pistorius was living a nightmare. 

Late in the 1980s, when Pistorius was 12, he fell seriously ill. His health rapidly deteriorated over the next several months. Doctors did what they could to keep the boy alive -- though they were unsure about the exact cause of his illness. Within a year and a half of his initial trip to the doctor, Pistorius lost the ability to control his body. He was using a wheelchair and unable to speak or eat, he later wrote on his website
According to NPR, Pistorius' parents Rodney and Joan were instructed to take their son home from the hospital and, essentially, wait for him to pass away. And for 12 years, they did just that. They waited and waited, with no signs of life coming from their son. But unbeknownst to them, doctors and everyone else around him, Pistorius' brain hadn't stopped functioning. In fact, his brain was the only thing that still worked. For 12 years, Pistorius was trapped in his own body, only with his thoughts to keep him company. 

Imagine that for a moment, if you will. Trapped in your own body, unable to tell anyone around you about the horror you're experiencing. Stuck in front of a television day in and day out. Family members come and go. Your mind wanders, drifting to dark places.

Pistorius spent these years bouncing between his home and various care centers. In an interview with NBC News, he revealed that he had been the subject of verbal, physical, and sexual abuse at these centers. He was unable to put a stop to it.

One night, Pistorius' mother, whose life had undoubtedly been turned upside down, looked her son in the face and wished death upon him. "I had no idea that he understood that and I'm very, very sorry I said it," Joan told NBC, tears filling her eyes. Pistorius told the same interviewer that he understood why his mother said what she did. In fact, through all of this, he just wanted to let his mom know how great she'd been to him in life.

Years went by, and Pistorius' hope began to fade. He couldn't stand the "Barney & Friends" reruns that played on the TV above his bed, he told the "Today" show. He couldn't stand the inability to make decisions for himself. He was powerless. 

But that all changed in 2001 when a new care worker was hired at the facility where Pistorius had been staying. After spending significant time with Pistorius, the female worker noticed subtle signs that suggested he wasn't as unresponsive as she was led to believe. She recommended that Pistorius visit the Center for Augmentative and Alternative Communication for further testing, the "Today" show reported. It was there that his life began to change. With the help of "special equipment," Pistorius was able to communicate with the outside world for the first time in over a decade. 

His journey to recovery had just begun, but Pistorius was determined to regain all that he had lost. He never did recover his ability to speak, however, so he uses a computer to communicate — much like Stephen Hawking. In 2009, Pistorius married Joanna, a friend of his sister, after having met through Skype just a year prior. He told NBC that it was very much a "love at first sight" type of deal. Two years after his wedding, Pistorius co-authored a book about his experience. "Ghost Boy" was met with rave reviews, many of which can be read on his personal website. It's clear that people from all over the world were equal parts touched and fascinated by the story.

Today, Pistorius and Joanna reside in Britain. They told the "Today" show that they soon hope to start a family together.