Knowing Our Neighbors: Salma Malik

The Knowing Our Neighbors series is an attempt to acknowledge and affirm the humanity that’s right around the corner. By talking frankly about our choices, dreams, and realities, we hope to uplift our community through shared experiences and the relief that, in the end, we really are doing it right.

“My mom was diagnosed with Guillain Barre Syndrome during my freshman year of high school. Basically your body attacks its own immune system.

“They couldn’t diagnose it because she has diabetes too. She couldn’t walk, her fingers and toes were numb. She even fell on the floor in the bathroom, that’s how bad it was. She was in that hospital for about a month and a half. They put her on this drip thing – they caught it early – the disease starts at your feet and moves up.

“After that she had to go to rehab to learn how to walk again.

“When my mom came home, she wasn’t able to drive, go to the bathroom, any of it. And she did everything for us. She drove us all to work, to school, she did the groceries. So when she got sick, that was a big problem for all of us. I was the only one still living at home so I was with her. I was cooking, taking care of the house, everything she did.

“Through rehab she was getting all her facilities back. We thought my mom was never going to be able to go back to everything, and thanks to the home nurse she has been rehabilitated. It’s amazing. That’s why I went into health care.


“In 2019, I’m going to graduate. I’ll have my BSN. Obviously I want to start working. I want to get my masters in nursing too, because I want to be a nurse anesthetist. And I want to get married the same year as I’m done.

“We start clinicals this semester. We do lab at school, but when you start going to the hospital, it’s kind of bittersweet. Exams and humans are two different things.

“How do I feel? Wow – I’m growing up. This is actually happening. Things are actually getting real. I’m a student nurse.

“I’m fine with all the medical procedures. When I was younger it was scary, but now it’s not a big deal. What scares me is people being mean. I understand that people have been suffering, but I’m really sensitive.”

Learn more about your neighbors!

Marie BarbaraJessicaAngel Kelly

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Mel Kozakiewicz a professor, editor, writer, and mother of two.

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