#Personal Stories

I Was In Coma For 47 Days, My Tryst With Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Harshita Dariyani
Living With Guillain-Barre Syndrome: I was in Class 7 when I lost my mother. Since then, I have been staying in hostels. Everything was falling back in place until 2016 when I was in Class 12.

My mother’s death was a shocker for me because I remember her tucking me in bed a day before that and as soon as I got up, we got to know she was admitted to hospital due to food poisoning. I and my siblings were told to attend school as usual. We were told it wasn’t serious, but right after we came back from school we could see the tension on people’s faces. After some time we were told doctors are moving her from Bhilwara to Jaipur as her condition had worsened. After some time we got a call that due to high blood pressure she couldn’t survive, they hadn’t reached Jaipur.

People who stood by me all along the way were my father, my elder brother and my elder sister. At every step, they were the wind beneath my wings. Being the youngest in the family, I didn’t know how to handle this situation so I decided to move to a hostel, therefore since the age of 12, I’ve been living away from home.

The Year 2016

I play badminton. After a match, I experienced a weird pain in my left hand. I didn’t pay much attention to it though. But the very next day when the hostel warden came to wake us up for an extra class, I couldn’t get out of my bed. Everybody, including the dean, warden and my hostel mates, tried to help me get up but I could barely walk. The doctor on the premises was called and he carried out a regular check-up. But it all went in vain because, surprisingly, everything seemed to be normal.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome

I was referred to the hospital where several tests were carried out. When the reports came, I learned that I have Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)— a rare disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves. By the time it was diagnosed, my lungs had already stopped working and I was in an ICU. I was in a coma for 47 days and it took me four months to get off the ventilator. Even then only my lungs were functioning but the rest of my body was paralysed. It took me one whole year to get out of it. I thought I’d get an answer that to why GBS happened to me but unfortunately, I never got one. I learned that it happens randomly to any one person in 1 crore. (but the fine line at least I’m rare). Doctors still haven’t found an answer.

I knew deep inside I had the strength to cross this hurdle, be it coming out of the ventilator or learning to sit, walk or write again. We don’t know the kind of strength we have until it’s put to test. I believed that ” the one who has ‘why’ to live for can bear almost any ‘how’ “

Class 12th

I appeared for my Class 12 board exams in a wheelchair as I didn’t want to lose my academic year. Then I got into mechanical engineering. I wanted to be a marine engineer but I had to give up on that dream because of my medical condition.
Attending classes was something very very different for me. I wasn’t able to sit for more than 30 minutes because my feet would swell and my back would hurt, regardless I wrote my board exams, passed and enrolled myself in SRM University Chennai KTR. I took up Mechanical Engineering.

Looking Ahead

I was always an obese kid, but after GBS became very heavy due to my inability to do any physical task, once I got back on my own feet, I decided to get fitter. I couldn’t do anything high-intensity workout nor was I able to do anything against gravity (jumping is still a dream for me). When the lockdown happened it was the self-motivation that drove me towards fitness. I managed to lose more than 30kg and now I can lift more weight than most guys in the gym.

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I am now applying to business schools and hoping for the best.

Exactly five years ago I was struggling even to breathe and had to convey a yes or a no by blinking my eyes. Now when I look back at all of it, it gives me a lot of strength and most importantly these five years taught me, that everything gets better with time.

Nothing comes on a platter. GBS was a life changer and it still continues to change my life, but I’m always grateful for surviving this. I am never going to take life for granted. I want to be happy, satisfied and most importantly at peace with myself regardless of the bumpy ride which I’ve had.

The views expressed are the author’s own.