The Ladies sans the lamp !
I went down memory lane when I spotted the picture of a couple of nurses from the KEM hospital distributing sweets welcoming the Supreme Court verdict pertaining to the Euthanasia of Aruna Shanbaug.
I too had a chance encounter with some good souls.The year was 2009. I was finally a graduate and cherished dreams about my first job. Little did I realize that God had something else in store for me. I embarked on a trip to my native with my family in tow. This, I did ignoring a mild fever which I assumed was largely innocuous. Later I realized with dismay that I made a worst mistake. The auspiciousoccasion back home had a cornucopia of traditional cuisine. My taste buds succumbed.
Slowly what was once considered mild turned catastrophic. Since medicines administered to me were having less or no effect on my condition, I was referred to the Gov. Hospital in Alapuzha. When I was confined to the wheel chair and was led to the ICU, I saw my world turning upside down, from hunky – dory to pain and gory. I’ve never been in terms with injections throughout my life. The paraphernalia surrounding my bed intimidated me to no limits. The fellow patients carried the unmistakable sign of white plasters attached to various parts of their lanky frame.
Remarks such as rampant bribery, sloth like actions and reactions and abuses by nurses were what one encountered in Gov. Hospitals. All these thoughts came rushing forth into my mind. Adding fuel to fire was the fact that not even a single soul was allowed into the ICU unless the ephemeral visit had some real purpose. The descendants of the Lady with the lamp were a far cry from her.
However these stereotypical images in my mind about them were reduced to rubbles as my stint in the ICU unfolded. The day began at 5 pm. After a pleasant smile which carried me away by storm, she made sure the mandatory drill of injection and the painful drip was conducted smoothly. She made it a routine to rub the nearby part of the skin where the drip was being administered. This helped me alleviate the pain. A conversation enquiring about my life and other topics followed. The sight of blood makes me bid adieu to my consciousness. The head nurse could not take it anymore and rolled up her sleeves to put an end to this rather unwelcome scene. I knew that a severe reprimand was hanging above my head like a Damocles sword. But this embodiment of patience sat me down one day and put some sense into my head. She began by narrating the plight of my fellow patients in ICU. The pain they endured was way beyond mine and I should learn to take it easily!! She tried her own therapy with words on me and she succeeded. At the outset it was difficult to look at the crimson liquid being injected out of my body for conducting blood cultures, nevertheless her words were ringing in my ears and it got me going. A kind hearted sister (they are addressed so) helped me fulfill my desire to take a stroll. It was an ephemeral but effective and at the end of it I gave her my word that I won’t attempt it again. The nights were lengthy and I pestered another nurse by asking her to remove and put on my shirt persistently. She did it without chagrin. My mundane questions such as “When will I be discharged?” , “Why should I consume this medicine?”, “Can I drink juice?”, “I can’t remember things! Is it amnesia?” were all greeted with a smile and were kind enough to explain things to me.
When I was out of the ICU, I wanted to have a glimpse of them but was told that they were all unavailable owing to their duties. The sad part is that I don’t know their names. Their demeanor towards every patient was the same. My plight is not worth comparison with the one endured by Aruna Shenbaug. The care showered upon her by the nurses of the KEM hospital needs a special mention.