Finding the right ‘Partner’

By The Health News Team | January 17, 2024
Dr. Sriyani De Silva of San Diego with her husband, Henry

Dr. Sriyani De Silva, a nursing professor at San Diego State, calls her husband, Henry, "the right soul for me."

The words alone bring Dr. Sriyani De Silva to the verge of tears. “The best feeling you can get,” Sriyani says, “is doing something for somebody else.”

Sriyani’s selflessness goes beyond the fact she was formerly a nurse at Sharp Memorial Hospital. It goes beyond being one of Sharp’s Partners, a program that provides invaluable support to Sharp caregivers each day.

It stems from how much she cares about her husband, Henry, and how much of an impact Sharp HealthCare has had since he was first treated by Sharp in 1995. “Because of Sharp, he became a person who could enjoy his life to the fullest, knowing we have people out here for us,” Sriyani says.

Finding the perfect match

Sriyani always knew she wanted to become a nurse, even when she was a little girl living in Sri Lanka. As a young adult, she met Henry and immediately recognized they were suited for each other.

“We were very good friends first and we thought we would be the best couple,” Sriyani says. “It was the cardinal truth.”

The two of them moved across the world to Southern California, where they both would pursue their studies at San Diego State University.

“He knew I really wanted to be a nurse,” Sriyani says. “He told me, ‘This is the best place, now you can start from the beginning.’”

Henry helped her with her studies. “He’s my dictionary,” Sriyani says with a laugh. And he was always there to encourage her.

“I found the right soul for me,” Sriyani says. “I don’t think anybody could come between us.”

The Sharp support system

Henry has encountered many difficult times over the years, from a heart attack to being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. In 2016, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

There with him every step of the way was Sriyani, who worked as a medical-surgical nurse at Sharp Memorial from 1991 through 2005.

“If I didn’t have that knowledge, I don’t think I’d be able to do all the things I’m able to do,” Sriyani says. “I can provide everything, and I think that’s because of the beauty of nursing.”

But Sriyani, now a nursing professor at San Diego State, knew she could do only so much. That’s when the specialists at Sharp stepped up. They provided her with the resources and guidance to help ensure Henry could control his health, from routine lab work to the proper treatment plans and medications.

Dr. Julius Conner called me and said, ‘Sriyani, you are doing a superb job for your husband. Even though you want to take care of him at home, he needs us to take care of him for him to get well,’” Sriyani recalls.

A true ‘Partner’-ship

As a supporter of Sharp HealthCare, Sriyani wanted to give back to Sharp Memorial, thinking of the warm care she was provided and all the times doctors would call her with guidance and reassurance. When she learned about the Partners program, she didn’t hesitate to join.

Dr. Sriyani De Silva

Sriyani is grateful for the caregivers of Sharp HealthCare, and the devotion they have shown her husband.

As a professor, Sriyani would bring her nursing students to different hospital sites so they can receive firsthand experience. She always felt deeply committed to ensuring Sharp’s mission of improving the health of the San Diego community.

Then she thought about Henry. “My husband has all the highs he has now because of Sharp,” Sriyani says.

Henry hasn’t been able to play tennis or field hockey since his Parkinson’s diagnosis, but Sriyani notices his progress. Not only is he receptive to the care he’s receiving, but he can stop some of his tremors and can eat and walk by himself.

Recently, the two of them sat on their porch together, holding hands and reflecting.

“Do you know how far we came?” he asked. “We had a lot of challenges when we came here — studies, work, finances, all of that.”

Adds Sriyani: “We were saying in our own love language that no one could hinder our success.”

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