Instructor: Connie Giles
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Meningitis – Heartwarming Story of a Real Survivor
I saw him last month in Burnsville when I went to help one of my friends to move her furniture to a different house in Shakopee. I realized that he looked like someone from Srilanka, which is my home country. The fact that his car was parked in the accessible parking space took me by surprise because he didn’t show any visible disability nor did he have a wheelchair or a walker. Although I was reluctant at first, I determined to talk to him since I learned in the Sensitivity to Disability class that we shouldn’t be afraid to talk to a person about their disability. And that is when I noticed it; he had a slight limp and attempted to get ahold of the arm of the chair a few times before he succeeded to sit on it. I realized he had a hidden disability but I did not have a clue as to how I should react to it or even if I could ask him directly if he was unwell.
I think he sensed my awkwardness as I introduce myself to him and offered to tell why he was limping and had less coordination on one side of his body. He had gotten sick with meningitis when he was 18 and survived, but the damage it did to his brain has left one side of his body weaker and uncoordinated than the other. After the short the short conversation we became friendly and he also showed up to one of the nationality events organized by the Srilankan Student Association at Minnesota State University Mankato in the first week of November. He is still a good friend of mine and agreed without a second thought when I asked him if I could interview him for my class. Although he doesn’t live in Mankato, he visits here to meet his friends frequently and last week I met with him to ask questions and learn more about his disabilities. This is the inspiring and heartwarming story of “Nalaka Dias”.
Background and Interview
Dias was an ordinary kid who had big dreams for his future. He was in his senior year of high school excited about graduation and further education when he fell ill. He was kind and generous. He had lots of friends and people loved him everywhere he went. He didn’t come from a lot of money, but his parents provided him with a good life and he wanted to give them the luxuries they couldn’t afford when he grew up. Just one week before his high school graduation he got sick with a bad flu and all he did was take a few painkillers thinking it will go away. He had too many plans after graduation and he wouldn’t let something like flu get in the way of them.
Unfortunately it wasn’t just flu. He got extremely sick and started throwing up; his whole body went weak with high fever and the next thing he remembered was collapsing on the floor and everything going blank. His parents had rushed him to the hospital where he was taken in to the Intensive Care Unit immediately and they waited outside praying for good news. Regrettably, they did not get any good news. The doctors told them that Dias had viral meningitis, which had gotten worse over the last few days and chances of making him alive out of the hospital were very unlikely.
Dias said that his parents later told him about the shock that they had gone through after realizing they might never get to see their son alive again. He said it was a traumatic experience for them as well as to everyone that was close to him. After the doctors tried everything for one whole week, they delivered the bad news to Dias’s parents, saying that it would be only a miracle that could save their son because all possible medical treatments have been done so far. Dias’s mother had gone to every possible religious place that people believed had miraculous properties and prayed her heart out, asking a higher power to save her son. Dias old me that his father never believed in God or had any religious beliefs, but he