RECAPTURING LIFE IN THE HOSPITAL

Someone said –

“Airports see more kisses than wedding halls. And hospital walls have heard more prayers than church walls.”

Indeed! Each of the hospital beds and walls has hidden many heart-wrenching stories. If we start jotting down such stories of our lives at the hospital, it would show us the real picture of human life.

Jotting down a couple of my hospital experiences:

While in high school, I met with an accident in which one of the nerves of my brain was badly damaged. This caused memory loss for a few hours and later on resulted in a severe headache. Mom took me to consult the Neurosurgeon. While in the waiting hall, a 70-year-old man was sitting by my side having the same neurological issues. But his condition was worse than mine. His head was twisted completely to the right and he had lost his speaking ability. His screams of pain were terrible. Honestly, I have never seen any human in such horrendous pain. Those screaming sounds and the scene is still alive in my mind.

After a few years, the second terrible experience I had, was seeing the death of my only younger cousin sister. It was the late night of 5th January 2010. My only younger cousin sister was on the ventilator. She was breathing with the help of a machine. We, as a family prayed for her fervently as we waited in the hospital. Mom asked me to go to the washroom to rinse a tiffin box. When I came back from the washroom, all of a sudden I saw that my beloved only younger sister stopped breathing. I ran to the doctor, but the doctor just covered her facing telling us ‘sorry’. She was the closest person to my heart and my secret keeper.

Though I have never been hospitalized, yet everytime as I try to recapture my hospital experiences it always reminds me of a Bible verse –
“As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; when the wind passes over, it vanishes, and its place remembers it no more.”

As we look at life through these stories the question that we need to ponder upon is –
“everyday we proceed to our graveside and we have no guarantee about our existence tomorrow, so think –
“FOR WHAT DO WE TAKE PRIDE OF OUR LIVES?”

I AM SCARED OF HOSPITALS

“I am scared of hospitals”

I get really anxious when I have to go there. Actually I shouldn’t be feeling such things. The two times I got hospitalized and operated upon it was a joyous occasion, as it was for the birth of my two children through C-Section. I don’t have any bad memories of that time everything went smoothly and I went home happily with my babies.

But still whenever I visit someone who is in hospital my heartbeat increases. I shudder inwardly. I still haven’t been able to pin point why this happens. Maybe it is the atmosphere there, or the distinct smell of disinfectants or the endless wait for the doctor to come and pronounce his verdict. Most probably it is the pain of seeing your loved ones lying on the hospital bed and at least one or if not multiple tubes attached to him.

When my father-in-law was hospitalized I was a newly wedded bahu in the house. My mother-in-law understood my discomfort with the hospitals and gave me the duty to take care of the house and the small daughter of my sister-in-law at home, while all the other family members were taking turns to be in the hospital.

But it is not avoidable always. When my husband was in hospital for a unique combination of dengue and malaria, I had to stay overnight in the hospital with him. And at times I had this insane urge to remove all the tubes and just tell him to run out with me and go home. My brain told me it’s insane to even think like this but the urge was definitely there.

When a person is in hospital he or she is in a bad condition and is suffering. But here I try to bring the spotlight on the family members who are sitting outside waiting, hoping, praying. They too are suffering. Trying to strike a balance between making things normal at home and waiting outside the ICU in an usually uncomfortable seat. Waiting for hours for the next round of the doctor and who will come and give some news about the patient. The feeling of helplessness that a person gets because all they can do is wait and pray for good news.

When my nephew was born he was diagnosed with sever jaundice and was put in neo natal ICU. The mother had to sterilize herself, change clothes, wash hands etc to go inside and pick up the child and feed him. Everybody else in the family used to helplessly just look through the glass and see the baby.

Recently my uncle got brain hemorrhage and is in ICU fighting for his life. When my family and myself met the doctor we had a huge list of questions. Is he out of danger? How much time for recovery? etc etc. There was a barrage of questions directed at the doctor. After patiently answering a few of our questions. He effectively silenced us with only one answer. “I won’t be able to say the words you want me to say right now. We will have to just wait and watch.”

So our family is again facing an endless wait. My uncle is fighting a battle inside the ICU and the family is fighting a battle outside in the waiting room.

But there is only one thing that makes this wait bearable .HOPE. The hope that the patient is getting better slowly and steadily. Hope that we all will go home hale and hearty and life which had paused for a while will again be back to normal.

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!!!

DIWALI IN HOSPITAL

It was the morning of Diwali of 2016. It had been 3 days of us visiting emergency room of Columbia Asia every 4-6 hours. My son was 1.5 years old and was suffering with high fever and wheezing since a few days. Unfortunately, Diwali was a long weekend and doctors weren’t regular – OPD’s were closed. So, we had to go to Emergency ward even when it wasn’t an emergency. 

Doctors had said that he needs nebulization every 4 hours to start with and since his saturation level was too low, it had to be checked with every nebulization. That meant we couldn’t nebulize him at home, we had to go to the hospital every 4 hours – day or night. 

On the day of Diwali, we realized that his health is only getting worse. His fever wasn’t coming down in spite of all the strong meds that he was being given. To add to the problem, he was not eating. He had spent 3 days only on a couple of biscuits and water. He refused to take milk or any solids and puked when fed forcibly. So, that evening we raised our concern AGAIN to the doctors. This time he was advised a chest X-Ray and blood work. We came back home and my son slept off. 

It was the first Diwali after my Brother in law got married which meant it ideally was supposed to be a big celebration. I was in no mood to do anything for Diwali at all, but we still had relatives over for dinner. I hardly prepared anything and my Mother in law did all the work. I was totally disconnected. Soon after we finished dinner – my son started screaming really bad. He had fever greater than 103 degree. It was a panicky moment for us. Kapil (my husband) was in the hospital to collect his reports. Me and my in laws were quick in sponging him and managed to get his temperature under control. Meanwhile, the reports confirmed that he had lung infection – a typical case of pneumonia. 

We were keen to admit him right away after looking at his condition but hospital refused. To my surprise, the reason was that all medical staff is busy attending the Diwali emergency cases. My husband explained what he had witnessed – emergency ward of that hospital was crowded with cases where people were burnt while burning crackers. And that was just one hospital – doctors mentioned that it is same case in all hospitals every year on Diwali night. It was very disheartening to hear this. In spite of being disturbed with my son’s health, I felt extremely sad about what all pain people go through in the name of celebration. Also felt horrible for all the medical staff that is busy attending the patients on the Diwali night. 

Next day morning, my son was admitted. He was very scared and so was I. He was sleeping on my lap in the Emergency room when the doctors came in to put his IV. I was made to step away so that doctors could deal with him and curtains were drawn so that me and my son were blocked from each other. I remember my palms hurting because I had my hands clenched so tight when he started to scream. To make things worse, he started saying – “Sorry mumma, I will be a good boy!” and many things like that. In his cries, he even started reciting his favorite nursery rhymes. I was in tears standing just outside the curtains. I realized that I should never tell him that doctors give injections to bad children. I am sure he was smart enough to think that he was being given the injection (and pain) as a punishment. That moment was very difficult to go through. 

Once we moved to his ward, things started to improve. Within 24 hours, he became almost normal. The only reason that meds were not working was because he wasn’t eating. 2 units of glucose did the magic and his infection was reduced by 80% by the end of 24 hours. At the end of 36 hours, we walked out of the hospital hoping that we never have to experience something similar again. 

However, we again landed in the same state 1.5 years later after his 3rd birthday. He got lung infection again at the same spot. Well, that hospital visit is yet another story that I will write about some other time. As of now, he is 4.5 years old and the infections did not recur since last 1.5 years. Fingers crossed! Doctors suspected weak lungs by birth and I hope (pray) that this isn’t the case.

Hospital visits aren’t delightful for sure. The only time I was elated in a hospital was when my son was born and I saw him for the first time. 

Diwali is just round the corner – I really hope and pray that hospital emergency wards are not full like we saw that years.

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.