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.