MY LOVE STORIES WITH NURSES

Hospital has never been a place that people love to stay in or even want to hear the word in their ears. It is place which has always created panic in the hearts and minds of people. But just imagine about those terminally ill people who have no other options than to stay in the hospital or visit it regularly… I am one of them, ironically. But I had some beautiful memories associated with all those hospitals wherever I had stayed and I am going to share all that with you today…

In 1978, when I underwent my first surgery in CMC Vellore, I sparsely remember one incident which I love to explain. I was almost three years old then and there was another kid in the ward who used scared of me… Why??? 😛

A nurse gifted me a yellow paper mask which I used to wear and walk around the ward. And when I face that boy, he used too scream looking at me and cry. So my Mom and the beloved nurse used to take that lovely gift from me and then I used to start yelling at the top of my voice. This is how my love story with nurses started and I still cherish that love gift, that yellow paper mask in my memory.

I don’t remember the year exactly but between the year 1980-82, I had a small surgery for urinary tract infection in Kalunga Catholic Hospital. I was admitted there for two days only. But I fell in love with a kind hearted nurse who used to take me with her for rounds. She gave me chocolates and a toy as well… I don’t remember much. I was hardly 7 years old. I wept so much missing her when I came back home. You won’t believe she had come to our quarter one or two times as well afterwards. Probably, she fell in love too with the kiddo me. 😛

In the year 2001 on 20th of February I had my second surgery in Manipal Heart Foundation, Bangalore. This was the best ever experience I have in a hospital. I have some awesome memories associated with a couple of nurses during that stay in the hospital. I got discharged on 27th February 2001 from the hospital. But I made my home there in that ward, as we both Shyam (a patient) and me walked around with the nurses, meeting all the patients, sometimes encouraging them, sometimes translating from their language to English for the nurses. We had so much fun.

When I got discharged I asked my cousin to bring few packets of Cadbury Dairy Milk . There were 31 nurses in the tenth floor ward. I gave all of them one packet each. The head of the nurses, sister Patricia asked, “why did you spend so much ?”. My answer was “the service and care I received from you people is more expensive than what I spent for you, thanks a lot.” I waved my hands and came out of the hospital with my mom and cousin with a sense of victory given to me by God.

All the time if I expect love and care from the nurses then it’s definitely not possible. And when I fell severely sick in 2005, I was admitted in one of the hospitals at Kolkata. I literally had to shout at them to get their love and attention… while my health went on deteriorating.

Finally, I was taken to Narayana Hrudayalaya, Bangalore where nurses were professional and know how to take care of people like me. I remember there was one young girl, who used to walk around taking care of patients including me as well. She was a fresher but her hands were steady like any other experienced nurses. She never used to look gloomy while taking care of us. But one day she was looking down. When she held my hand to check my pulses, BP etc., as routine check up… I asked her, “Hey, what happened to you… Looks like your boss is too irritating and shouting on you unnecessarily.” She smiled and said nodded in agreement to what I said.

And this cute little girl never stayed gloomy afterwards till I got discharged from the hospital. Her service and smile was her gift to me and in return I gave her that warmth even if I was just a patient like any other for her in that hospital.

When I suffered with Dengue in 2017 September, I was in a private room for better care and attention of those beautiful nurses in Kolkata. The doctor under whom I was admitted once asked the nurses, I don’t think you will be having any problems taking care of this jovial and handsome patient!?” They just smiled and kept quiet without replying anything.

If you would have marked, throughout this article I have highlighted the word – nurse(s) because from the very childhood they have been a part of my life and might be there in future as well. I was admitted in the hospital more times than the times I’ve mentioned here and I have a greater sense of love, respect and honour for the nurses. May God always bless them for what they do.

I hope you all enjoyed my love stories with those beautiful nurses… Keep reading and keep leaving your valuable feedback…

Stay blessed!!!

FIRST TIME I DREADED HOSPITAL

You must be thinking why did I give such a heading to this article. This is because of the simple reason that earlier when I was admitted to the hospital (twice) was for the best reason- birth of my two sons.  Before that when I was hospitalized, I was too young to remember, which I already mentioned in “Who Was That Guy”.

Visits to the hospital with my elder son, Arjun, wasn’t new to me as he has gone through staples, stitches, fracture, etc. Yeah! Quite an adventurous life he witnessed already before the age of 5. 

But this time it was different. He got high fever which refused to go even after giving Paracetamol. His pediatrician suggested to get his blood tests done as Dengue fever was on outbreak. However, his body showed no symptoms of of Dengue except high fever, so my husband and I were keeping calm and positive. The blood test reports however proved us wrong. His platelets were 1.2 lakhs and Dengue NS1 Antigen came out positive. The pediatrician suggested us to admit him to the hospital straight away so that his platelets could be monitored. 

Arjun dreads going to the doctor, even though he hardly cried on getting immunization shots. Breaking down this news to him was very difficult. As we started packing up the basic stuff for going to the hospital, I couldn’t control my tears and started crying. Just the thought of watching my son getting admitted scared me. Gathering myself, I got determined to stay strong so that my son could stay that way. 

As we got into the car, we told Arjun that we were going to a different doctor and as we entered the hospital, he started questioning hysterically- “ Why are we here? Is the doctor here? But, shouldn’t he be in the clinic? Am I getting another blood test? “

We calmly told him that he had got Dengue, which was a serious illness if not taken care of. So, for better care, we were at the hospital, assuring his mumma being next to him all the time. 

We were taken to the emergency ward where some blood test samples were to be taken. As we waited, we saw a serious case where the patient was being put on a ventilator. My heart sank as I was hearing the sounds and talks of the nurses, doctors and the attendants. I immediately wanted to leave that area. 

Soon, Arjun was taken to ICU. Electrodes were pasted on his chest for monitoring heart and a Cannula was to be injected in his veins, before which, the nurses asked me to wait outside to which Arjun immediately shouted- “No, mumma will stay with me.” I smiled and told the nurses to go ahead with the insertion, while I held my son tightly. 

The blood samples were needed every morning and evening. Every time the blood was taken out, Arjun would hold me tight and hide his face, while l just watched the vials of blood being filled. 

Since the time he was admitted, there was only one question in my son’s head- “When will we go home? “ And with that question, he lost his smile. His favourite books, games or even mobile videos failed to lift up his mood. 

Every two hours his blood pressure and temperature was observed, thankfully both remained in limits. 

The doctor strictly told my son to drink lots and lots of water if he wanted to get discharged soon, which Arjun religiously followed. 

For the next two days, we stayed in the hospital and the third day my son smiled because he was getting discharged as his platelets showed improvement. 

Getting back to home was nothing less than a celebration. Those two days proved to be very long for both of us. While my son was full of joy as he entered the house, I thanked God for embracing him. 

THE ONLY PLACE IN THE WORLD WHERE WE WANT THINGS TO BE NEGATIVE…

During my childhood, the hospital was almost like my second home. I never had fear for hospitals, nor I am scared of visiting one. I have good memories associated with hospitals. As an 8-year-old girl, I used to go alone to take my vaccination. Of course, my parents used to be waiting outside the room, as I always insisted on going through the process of injections alone. For almost 3 years in a row, when I was 12, I had typhoid. Trust me when I say this, I always had the most severe attacks of typhoid. Even a spoonful of water intake resulted in vomiting. So, I had 3 weeks of hospitalization once, and I still remember how I used to enjoy my stay there. My parents were working full time in an organization that also owned hospitals for employees. They have to go to work ( I understand that), and I had so much fun with the hospital staff. Hours of time on IV fluids restricted to bed, refusing to eat the deadly idly (that is south Indian comfort food), reading my school books to pass the time in the night – Ah, lot of memories.

Recently my visits to the hospital have become very frequent. I am on diagnosis for symptoms that are pointing towards a weak heart. It all started 3 years ago, during a trek, when I experienced a very high heart rate. Not that I was climbing too fast, but I had discomfort breathing. As always, I thought I may have been too tired, or as my body is not adapted to exercise for some time then, maybe it wasn’t able to cope up climbing the height. This happened two more times, and that’s the much-needed alarm to schedule an appointment. Echocardiograms and blood tests showed PAH (Pulmonary Artery Hypertension), and that is something that won’t show up on the Blood Pressure readings. It is almost a year, I am going through several tests that really have not given conclusive results. I have lapses of dizziness, shortness of breath, and pain – so, there are symptoms. Doctors say I have a weak heart ( I wonder how ??) and should be careful. There are no blocks as such, but I am on the higher side of the risk factors of my heart giving up. Does that scare me? Of course. Who wants to die early? But, the bright side of it is I am aware of the shortcomings of my heart. All the diagnosis is only possible because there are hospitals.

Okay, so that’s about diagnosis what about emergencies? Few months back, I had very severe pain in the abdomen while I was at work. Post lunch I started having sharp pain in the right side, which was only increasing exponentially. By the time I reached home, I felt so weak, helpless and my whole body started sweating. I was out of energy when the cab arrived. The cab driver was very supportive to leave me till the emergency section. The pain was so excruciating that I could not even lay on the bed in one position. I suspected it might be appendicitis, but the pain was too much to bear. After several rounds of pain killers and my screams in the emergency room, the pain subsided 7 hours later. Until then the doctors could not perform CT because I am unable to stay still. An hour later, I underwent CT and ultrasound, which depicted a stone in the kidney. When I was going through this trauma, I had no idea whom to talk to. The nurses were very caring and supportive. Maybe, I should write a dedicated article describing how scared I was. I was in so much fear until I knew what the problem was. The only relief was I am in the hospital and for anything that happens there are doctors around. So, for emergencies also, we are helpless but to visit a hospital. 

The very word ‘hospital’ scares a lot of people, but I feel that is the place that gives us solace. Hospital is not always for bad. How many mothers go for birthing to live those happy moments holding their newborn. How many families feel relieved when they get to know their loved ones are completely healthy when they suspected something wasn’t right. How many people with chronic illnesses are getting better only with the help of hospitals? We are scared because of what’s happening in our bodies. We are scared when we are unaware of what it is. We are scared to learn something that may not be right, but hospitals are the go-to places to recover. I have massive respect towards doctors, lab technicians, the nurses, and, most importantly,  researchers who are in the constant quest to understand human anatomy. Without them, the hospital would have been a really scary place to be.

SHE WOKE UP AND ASKED FOR “SOUPS”

The word, “hospital” itself scares everyone to the core. But at some point of our life, we all come face to face with this word, at least once in our life time. So did we…

In March of 1992, my husband and I heard the most terrifying news. Our precious 2 year old daughter had a tumor growing behind her right eye. A biopsy had to be done as soon as possible.

The day of the surgery, we arrived early in the morning and were assigned a room. I had packed a bag for both myself and my little girl. There was no way I was leaving her alone. As I changed her into that little hospital gown, I prayed: “Dear Lord, please watch over my little girl as they operate on her. Guide the hands of all who will be involved.”

As we waited, one by one, all those who would be a part of the surgery came in and talked to my husband and I. The surgical nurse and the anesthesiologist came in last, greeted us and then focused on our daughter Amber. We walked to the waiting area, my husband carrying her. The nurse went to make sure everything was ready. Finally, the anesthesiologist said it was time and held out his arms to our daughter. She smiled and went with him with no fuss.

Now the waiting began. Friends and family joined us during our vigil. I don’t remember exactly how long the surgery was but I do remember the nurse came out at least 4 times to keep us updated on how she was doing. She was so very kind and patient, answering any questions we had. Other nurses came around asking if we needed anything. 

Finally the nurse came out one last time to let us know that Amber was being taken to recovery. As we sat there in that quiet room, waiting for her to wake up, I was surprised to see the anesthesiologist walk in just to “check on her.” 

Within the hour, Amber woke up and asked for “soups”. And that time we realized we were now out of the soup. 

I will never forget the kindness and patience that the staff showed us on that nightmarish day. They kept our spirits up and made sure that we were as comfortable as possible. 

Incidents like this, always remind us of the God, who fits everything and everyone around us as our helps when we needed the most.

I am sure you all will have many such interesting and touchy incidents or experiences concerning hospitals in your life. My co-writers will be sharing their stories in subsequent days and if you have such hospital related stories, you can also share them all in the comment sections to encourage and motivate others.  

I WALKED…

I walked…
I walked close to death…
I walked so close to the valley of death…
Not this time only…
Not once…
But many times…
In many occasions I walked…
I walked close to death.

 

I missed…
I missed my loved ones at that moment…
A moment when I went through the valley of the shadow of death…
A moment I almost missed and lost all…
But I found them all back…
I found them all again…
Because He wanted me to live again…
He wanted me to stay for others again.

 

I felt…
I felt His presence…
I felt His Holy Countenance…
I felt His loving arms around me.
I felt…
I felt the warmth of His life…
As I walked in the ruthless cold of death.

 

I touched…
I touched the softness…
I touched the softness of my saviour’s palms…
His comforting bosom.
My feet touched His soft palms as He carried me through in His arms…
The smooth, the soothing, the soft touch of Him made me whole and comforted.

 

I thank…
I thank God for His grace…
I thank for the life given to me again…
A life dedicated for Him…
A life dedicated for those who are in need of me…
A life to be poured out once again for my loved ones…
A life to be sacrificed again for His purpose.

(Originally posted HERE)

IN THE AFTERLIFE

No, no, this isn’t a preachy sermon about how you should prepare for life after death. Well actually, this is about that except its not your afterlife I’m asking you to prepare for, but for those you leave behind.

Life has no surety. Death, however, is a certainty. We can get any number of insurances and jeewan bimas but nothing can ever prepare us for the final moment of death, not even when science has quantified the days, months, years of our lives. It’s hard to accept that all this skin, sinew, these memories, these people and their love that we have, all that we cherish, will be lost to us. But its harder for those we leave behind because they face the void created by us. And since we live in a material world, material matters do affect families hard. Enter family feuds, frozen bank accounts with no nominees, property wars, divisions of men over matter. Cheap it may sound, but these realities of life after the death of the dearly departed is what families are left to grapple with over and above their grief.

Why not make life a little easier for them? Why not leave them with a Will that clearly defines ownership and management of your assets?

I can see you shaking your head. You’re saying:

  • I don’t have that much property;
  • My spouse knows all that I have;
  • My bank accounts have nominees;
  • My children are too good to fight over the property after I’m gone;
  • I have a portfolio/asset manager who will know what to do, or worse still,
  • Meh, I’m still young and healthy!

All these are valid statements, even the last one, but a Will does not take care of just your monetary assets, it pronounces your wishes on all your assets, yes, even your collection of books or shoes or your kitchen utensils that your bank/portfolio/asset manager will not concern themselves with.

I have my mother-in-law’s example to assert my point. My father-in-law died at the age of 55, at the height of his career, within three months of being diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer. Needless to say, since it was sudden, his family couldn’t prepare for his departure, emotionally or otherwise. She was left with two years worth of struggles over bank accounts that had no nominees, some properties under his own name with no rights of joint ownership in the name of my mother-in-law, no mutation instructions about immovable assets, no power of attorney (POA) giving her authority to manage the assets, no knowledge of where or how his mutual funds were invested and a vacation notice from the government to vacate the government lodgings they had, all this while her two sons were still in school… and she herself was unemployed. Every time she approached a bank or a government authority she was asked to produce a valid will, a succession certificate, letter of administration or a POA, neither of which she had. So the general law concerning succession took over and we all know how long that takes! She suffered a lot because he would always tell her – there’s still plenty of time left to plan. I’m sure had he been alive he would have never wished such hardships on her.

A few figures for you to consider –

Not long ago, Daksha, an NGO that analyses the performance of the judiciary, published a report that said that out of all criminal and civil matters pending in courts in India, 66% were property related matters and 10% of them were family feuds over property*.

In my personal experience as a lawyer, land matters typically take anywhere between 5-50 years to resolve, sometimes even longer. A person’s next generation could be born and die within that kind of time-span. One family dispute I was involved in took as long as twenty years and that too only in the lower courts, and the parties were still willing to appeal to a higher court. The amount of time and resources such court cases waste is staggering! Besides, in India, if you die intestate i.e. without a will, the laws of succession (in case of Hindus, Parsis and Jains, it is the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. Muslims have personal succession laws and Christians are covered by the Indian Succession Act, 1925) take over and they take a mighty long time to settle property on the rightful heirs.

Executing a will is thus not a futile exercise, especially when your assets are huge. It is a document that centralizes your assets and your wishes regarding the management of those assets in one document while avoiding legal tangles, delays and family feuds. A little planning at your end could ensure that your assets reach those you wished to bequeath them to at the right time.

In India, under the Succession Act, 1925, a will is defined as a legal declaration of the intention of a person with respect to his property, which he desires to take effect after his death.

Anyone of sound mind, not under the influence of intoxicants or under distress, over the age of 21 is capable of executing a will. Even a disabled person. More importantly, in India, it isn’t necessary for the will to be executed on stamp paper or registered even. Sure you can do that, it’s good practice. But even if you write –

“I want all my property to go to my children in equal parts,”

over a piece of paper, signed in your own hand before two or more witnesses, this bit of paper will also be treated as a valid will. But don’t do that. Seriously!

You can change your will as many times as you like in your lifetime, but once you die, your last executed will becomes the final word on your wishes.

A few things to consider before making a will –

Legal Advice: Consult a lawyer if you’re unsure about the legalities of certain types of assets, especially if your assets are many. Drafting (writing) a will is also an important aspect of making a will, one that you may not be well-equipped to do. Hence, consult a lawyer. There are sites online that offer you templates to make wills online and help you with other legalities pertaining to wills.

Avoid Duplication: There can be only one will at any given time. Try to include all your known assets in that single document because eventually only your last Will shall be considered your final will. Having too many copies related to different assets will defeat the purpose of making a Will. You can keep updating your will from time to time but ensure that each time you do so, you clearly mention that the last will stands revoked.

Minority of Beneficiaries: If you wish to bequeath something to minors (below the age of 18), appoint guardians on their behalf for the bequest.

Right Executor: An executor is someone who declares your will to your family and ensures that bequests in the will are properly disposed of. Appoint a person who is considerably younger than you, is capable and trustworthy for the job. Execution (the process of declaration and distribution) of wills is not required to be done before a court of law, but you could request for a Magistrate or a public notary from the authorities**.

Above all declare that you are making the will in sound mind, without duress or coercion, and in full control of your mental capacities.

There are no guarantees that making a Will will necessarily mitigate all legal issues and family problems arising therefrom, but you would have done your part in ensuring that your obligations towards your family have been fulfilled. You wouldn’t want them suffering or fighting amongst each other, I’m sure. Which is why you must invest in some time towards making your will.


** Importance of will and some essential points to be considered while making a will, Jagao Investor, November 14, 2010.

Image Source: RobVanDerMeijden for Pixabay.

 

THE DAY MUMBAI WENT UNDER WATER

Flooding is not new to Mumbai. Every year when the monsoon hits the shores of Mumbai there are at least a couple of days when things come to a standstill. All roads in the low lying areas like Gandhi Market, King Circle, Hind Mata are flooded and tracks are flooded so the trains either have completely stopped or are moving at snail’s pace. We the people of Mumbai (or Mumbaikars as we like to call ourselves) have learnt to take it (among other things) in our stride. If it’s raining very heavily The children will get a day or two off from school as a rainy day. Office goers will leave the office early so that they reach home safely. Or if they have an option they will work from home. That’s it! It’s life as usual!

That’s the reason maybe we were so unprepared for the day when almost the whole of Mumbai went under water. Here I tell you the story of what I faced during the Mumbai floods. I have tried to keep the mood a little light but that doesn’t mean I want to trivialise the devastating effects of the floods. I am just trying to show the disbelief that we had in accepting that it can happen to Mumbai.

It was the July of 2005, 26th July to be precise. The day started as usual. I and my husband both left for office. My mother in law and my 2-year-old son were at home. I was 7 months pregnant at that time. My friends used to tease me that I looked like a baby elephant because of my bloated looks and my funny walk. But I was working and continued to work till the end of the 9th month. I actually enjoyed all the pampering I used to get from my colleagues. Coming back to July 26th.

It was raining heavily and incessantly since morning. Nothing alarming about it. There was a warning of High Tide also. Till lunch time it was work as usual after that we started hearing murmurs of flooding. We still thought that our areas never get flooded. It’s a problem for only the people who stay in low lying areas. But suddenly by 3 pm, it was announced that the office buses are leaving. We were glad for an early day off and went in the sat in the buses. It was only when the bus left the campus and reached the highway that we realised something was seriously wrong. The road was like a flowing river. At one point under the flyover, our bus was caught in swirling waters. Water on the road was so high that it was covering almost all of its tyres. The bus swayed as it moved through the water. After a lot of struggle on part of the engine and the driver, we finally came out of it and on to the next flyover. But the poor government bus engine had only this much life in it and it conked off. Still, no issues the highway ahead of us didn’t have much waterlogging. And we thought we had left the worse behind thinking that we will keep walking towards Navi Mumbai and we will take the lift from the vehicles coming and reach home.

All the vehicles coming from Mumbai were completely full people were hanging from the doors and sitting on the roof. With no chance of getting any lift we kept walking, a group of 10-12 people we walked around 10 km on the highway that day. Yes me too with my big belly! The distance which looked so short when travelling by car felt endless to us. No mobile network too. Once when I got network on my mobile there were more than 30 missed calls from my husband. He was so worried about me. I could relay to him that I was safe but still far from home.

When we left the highway and turned into Navi Mumbai I stared at the road ahead of us in complete disbelief. Our myth that this part of the city never got flooded was shattered. The road was completely submerged.  Only the top of the divider was visible. We all formed human chains and walked on the divider. One glimmer of hope came when we saw that buses were still leaving from Vashi depot. But one bus and there are hundreds of passengers scrambling to get on it. At this point of time, I can only praise the ladies accompanying me. They shouted on the top of their voice that there is a pregnant woman (me!) with us and made through the throng of people. They managed to get me a seat also on the bus.

As the bus moved through the bylanes of Vashi we saw to our horror half-submerged cars they seemed like floating on water. The bus was actually creating waves in the road and tearing through the water. On reaching my lane I was alone walking in the middle of the road as the water was least there. At the end of the lane was a stormwater drain. The water flow was so high that I felt that if I slip and fall I will be dragged into the drain. I called out to the watchman of our building to come out and help me cross the road. He held my hand and we waded through the water and I finally entered my building.  

It was midnight by the time I reached home. I was dead tired and my two year old had cried himself to sleep before I reached. But I must say I was much better off.

My husband waded through waist-deep water for 2-3 km. And reached home only the next day. Some places were so badly flooded that the whole houses were submerged. There was a colleague whose house was filled with water till the ceiling fan. The clothes, electronics, furniture etc were all rendered completely useless as the water was very dirty and filthy. Another friend of mine told us how they walked on the roof of parked cars to directly enter the upper floors of their house. People told stories of how water started bubbling up from the drains in the bathroom and flooding the house.

At least we lived to tell our tales. The official death toll of that day is 1094. Some people got sucked into the stormwater drains. Some died trapped in their car. This is a particularly sad story. When the water level started rising on the roads many people thought that they were safer in the car. But when the water rose further the central locking system got submerged into the water and stopped working, they got locked inside the car. And then the pressure of water was so high outside that they couldn’t open the doors manually too and were trapped inside and lost their life. This shows how unprepared we Mumbaikars were, how we took it lightly at first. They must have thought that they will wait it out in the car for waters to recede. Never thought that it was a life-threatening situation.

Of course, there are many other stories of how Mumbaikars helped each other. And how the famous resilient spirit of Mumbaikars helped the city limp back to normalcy.

But what we saw that night was unbelievable. The whole city was submerged in water. And the first reaction of everyone was disbelief. How can it happen to our Mumbai? But it did and you know why? First and foremost is the combination of incessant rains and high tide. And secondly, the British era drainage systems which are taking a load of a city growing uncontrollably and destruction of mangroves that used to work as a barrier to stop water from coming in. The sea reversed the flow of the very same drains that threw sewage into the sea and brought the water on to our roads and inside our houses. It was natures warning to us.