They end up staying months on end and they bond well with us.
ICP was the first patient to come our way.Transferred from ICU in Nagpur due to brainstem bleed he stayed with us for almost three months before we discharged him for home.Every now and then he collapses and is wheeled into our casualty.
We had not seen him for seven months.His sons ,when we met them in the market would politely invite us to their place.They would tell us he is doing well.ICP could not talk ,would not respond to any of the commands when he came in .Our nurses diligently worked around him ,we counseled the sons about including him in conversations.We would take time in our morning prayers to specifically go up to his room ,sing some hymns and would share the gospel and pray.Tears would stream down ICP’s eyes.There was no knowing if we were actually reaching out to him.
Yesterday the son came to our hospital at around eleven o’clock to enquire if Madam could go to their house and have a look at ICP .He was staying just around the corner and was having high grade fever and was breathless.That was a one off request for a house-call.Having explained that I would not be able to do anything for him at home I called Kamlesh,our hospital driver who picked ICP from his home.
He was spiking 105 degrees and had on a winter warmer.
The urine out-put was nil.We started an IV fluid,pushed in some antibiotics and our young nurses ever so diligently did a beautiful cold sponging and at the end of one hour our man’s fever was down.He gave me a beatific smile.His son asked him how he is feeling and he nodded implying he is feeling much better.
He mumbled something ,lying in the comfort of the air-conditioned ACU,and it was -‘ Good night’.
The other gentleman was a school-teacher with terminal cancer of the colon who was ever so intelligent.
Each morning I would go up to his bed and greet him-‘Ramanjee,aap kaise hai?(Ramanjee,how are you today?).He would reply –‘Jee,ache hai.’ ‘Thank you,I am feeling good.’
We would talk about the knick knacks and then we would go through the procedure of doing some dressing,tying crepe bandages,just processes to make the patient feel cared for and comfortable.
As his gut started closing and we knew the time was near,we continued to greet each other in the same way.We continued to spend time with them in prayer.The wife did not want to take the patient home because she thought that she would not be able to manage the visitors.He had a lot of friends and families in and around Lakhnadon.
Ramnjee would meticulously chalk-out plans for his family’s future with his wife.On one occasion the family requested we allow him to go to a temple for a dip in the holy water.He went one evening and came back.
One day it looked like he would not make it past another day or two so when I went for my morning rounds I asked him ,’Ramanjee,aap ghar jana chahate hai?’(Ramanjee, would you like to go home?).He replied ,’Ji’.
I requested the family to take him home for the last time and they agreed.He apparently died the next day surrounded by all his friends and family.
We remember each of them,the ones who have passed away, with a pang in our hearts.
These palliative care patients not only leave us richer for the experience but they also allow us to walk into the life and struggles of the families they belong to.We feel greatly privellaged to be allowed to participate in so delicate a time .