Kumail Nanjiani has opened up about the real life events that inspired his film The Big Sick, which chronicles meeting his wife, Emily V. Gordon, and the horrific weeks when she was comatose in hospital, suffering from an illness the doctors couldn’t diagnose.

He posted on Twitter that Emily’s mum had found his visitor’s badge from the first time they met, on which he’d written his phone number in case she needed to contact him.

“Certain objects have the power to pull you back,” he wrote. “Wow.”

The Big Sick – which is a funny, moving, utterly delightful film that you need to see if you haven’t yet – was co-written by Kumail (who plays himself) and Emily (played by Zoe Kazan). For most of the latter half of the film, Emily is unconscious in hospital, and Kumail, her ex-boyfriend, navigates dealing with the doctors and her family.

Nanjiani and Zazan in The Big Sick.

He wrote:

“I hadn’t seen [the visitor’s badge] in ten years. Probably not since that first day with her mom. Looking at it, I got pulled right back into that moment. And the strongest feeling I felt was this kind of fearful floating. Emily’s condition and disease at that point felt so big and unknowable.

“The extreme fear and not knowing & the vagueness of it all created a bubble. And you just kinda float around in this bubble. Everything you see is through this bubble. I remember going to Walgreens and getting angry at someone just buying gum. Why do you get to live a normal life?

“And you expend so much energy to not think about the one thing that’s unthinkable. So much of your entire being is spent trying to not think of the worst case scenario. And every day was a new theory on what it was. I remember the day they thought it was leukaemia.

“I had a family member who had passed away from that disease. And the doctor just said it nonchalantly and walked out. I thought ‘Well if it is that, at least we’ll get to talk to her again. Her parents will get to say goodbye.’ That was an actual thought I had. Oof.

“I played Mario in the waiting room for days on end, and couldn’t hear the sound of him collecting coins for years after that. I remember thinking how unfair it was. And Emily is always so full of life and fills a room with her energy and seeing her like that felt vulgar.”

Emily was eventually diagnosed with adult-onset Still’s disease, a rare but treatable auto-inflammatory disease.

“Basically, your organs can start getting inflamed as if they’re under attacked and have an infection, but they’re not,” she told The Hollywood Reporter last year. “Because I wasn’t diagnosed or being treated for it, it just kept getting worse and worse. My organs kept getting more and more inflamed until I had to be hospitalised.”

She ended up staying in a medically induced coma for eight days, which Kumail tweeted is “still the longest we’ve gone without speaking since the day we met.”

He continued:

“I’m proud of her for being open about it and for sharing her story with people. I think sometimes people feel shame for having a disease or condition. But they shouldn’t. It’s not your fault. She’s dealt with it by talking to people about it, and people have talked to her about theirs.

“Her condition is part of her, but it’s not all of her. It doesn’t define her. But it’s something we’ll deal with for the rest of our lives. And that’s ok. Whew. I’m really done now.”

You can read his tweets in full below – and seriously, take two hours and watch The Big Sick. You won’t regret it.

Image: Getty Images / Frazer Harrison