The Director of “The Big Sick” Discusses His Wife’s Still’s Disease

According to an article from The Daily Herald, “The Big Sick” was Kumail Nanjiani’s first feature film. Released in 2017, the movie received widespread praise from critics. The story was based on the relationship between Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon. They co-wrote the film together.

The film describes the first diagnosis of his wife’s adult-onset Still’s disease. Eight months after the two started to date, Gordon got very ill and was placed into a medically induced coma. Her organs began to fail as doctors struggled to determine what was wrong with her.
Adult-onset Still’s disease is a rare systemic autoinflammatory disease that is characterized by three primary symptoms. These include a unique salmon colored bumpy rash, joint pain, and a high fever. Most people recover from the disease, but it can cause severe complication that could be life threatening, and it can affect the kidneys, heart, or lungs. Other symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, high white blood cell count, and enlarged spleen and liver. Adult-onset Still’s disease (AOSD) is usually treated with anti-inflammatory drugs. To learn more about this disease, click here.

The comedian was inspired to discuss the situation after Emily’s mother found his old hospital visitation badge that he used to give her parents his phone number during the tense period of days when Emily was still in a coma at the hospital. Nanjiani took to twitter to reflect on that time, and said that the period when Emily was in the coma was the longest that the two had gone without talking to each other since they had met. Nanjiani described sitting in the waiting room day after day. Since AOSD is a rare condition, it took the doctors a while to determine what exactly had happened to her, which made the waiting time even more tense and stressful. There was even a point when the doctors suspected leukemia.

Gordon was able to recover, but now she has to monitor her health closely, and it is perfectly possible for her to develop symptoms again in the future. Since the success of the film, Gordon has become an advocate for people with AOSD and spreading awareness about the disease.

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