Why Waking Up From Coma And Seeing Daylight Again Is A Privilege I Don’t Take For Granted

Harshita Dariyani
When 22-year-old Rajasthan resident Harshita Dariyani asks me, ‘what’s the worst that could happen? I’ll manage it’, I feel overwhelmed to an extent that it’s difficult to write. It’s not what she says, it’s what got her to this point that made her who she is and, unfortunately, was a result of all the unfathomable physical, mental and emotional difficulties she faced right from the age of 11.

Her challenges aren’t over yet but she is determined to face them all and this story of courage is what we need to read at a time when we’re all facing one challenge or another. It’s Dariyani’s spirit that to a huge extent shows what grit is and what it means to face uncertainty and never back down.

Dariyani, who is currently pursuing a Master’s in International Business at WHU, Germany, is studying to become not just an entrepreneur but also develop all-around skills to better her professional career.

She opens up to SheThePeople about her journey, the medical and emotional challenges she powered through, how she uses her ability to go past her disability, and what courage means to her.

Harshita Dariyani: The Powerhouse

“I was 11 when I returned from school one day and learned that my mom had passed away. Her death broke me in many ways and processing that grief was difficult. I was entering my teenage years and wanted a robust support system to back me up. I decided to go to boarding school in Jaipur thinking it would get easier there. It was hard when my boarding mates’ moms visited them and I couldn’t see mine. I channelled that grief into sports. I started playing badminton. In 2016, at 16, one day after a critical game at school I returned to the hostel and felt a sense of pain in my left arm. We thought it was an after-game effect and I went to bed. I couldn’t get up the next morning. Everyone tried to help me stand up but it was in vain. I could no longer feel control over my body and the pain spread. The medical staff at the boarding did not have an answer for it and I was transferred to the city hospital. My family came in and I was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), a rare neurological disease in which the immune system attacks the nervous system. My lungs stopped working by the time I was diagnosed. I was in ICU and I slipped into a coma for 47 days – was on a ventilator for 4 months.

While my lungs started to function, the rest of my body was paralysed. It took me a year to get out of paralysis. My entire life changed in the blink of an eye. I went through an emotional roller-coaster after I woke up from a coma. I was confused, shocked and helpless once again. The girl who once played sports could no longer move a finger by herself. The transition from a stretcher to a wheelchair, to a walker, to crutches, to walking independently made me want to give up a lot of times, but the courage to face it also made me learn significant lessons. GBS did not just break me physically but mentally too. Seeing dad sacrifice everything to save me was difficult. Seeing the daylight again felt like a privilege. I gave my 12th boards sitting in a wheelchair.

I cleared and got myself admitted to Chennai University. I gained massive weight during the process and my fitness dropped to an all-time low. I can’t do activities against gravity, but I worked hard in 2020 and lost more than 30 kgs. I passed out as a mechanical engineer and got an opportunity to work as a commodities trader. I am now in Germany pursuing my Master’s as a differently-abled student in this new chapter. I still have a Foot Drop condition, because of which I wear a special kind of shoes every day to walk.

My dad taught me amidst challenges we faced together that if we look forward to massive things waiting for us and move towards them – that if we cross that one layer, to uncover the potential we have to achieve those things – our purpose in life is served. I hope mom knows how much we love her, everything I do is to make her proud, too. I don’t know what really the definition of success is for me but I do know that merely walking, breathing and having an opportunity to just be is a privilege I will never take for granted.”

Narrated by Harshita Dariyani. Written and edited by Bhawana, Team SheThePoeple.

Harshita Dariyani

Harshita Dariyani with her father.

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