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21 Feb 2024, Edition - 3144, Wednesday

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Nurses Week : Nurses recount the last words of dying patients

Subhashini R


Chennai: The love and care delivered when one is weak and frail, the reassuring hand on the shoulders, waiting on one dutifully, all these become dearer when that comes from one outside the family.

This perhaps explains why nursing is represented with the White Heart – a symbol of purity and redeeming strength. The doctor diagnoses illness and prescribes medicines. But it is the nurse always at the bedside at every step of healing; sometimes even the last step. It is Nurses Week which makes recounting the experiences of those who have witnessed light dimming in the eyes of patients and even their thoughts shared through their last words.

Health Above 60, a leading geriatric home healthcare provider in Chennai, offers home nursing care to patients often bedridden and unable to take care of themselves. Hemavathy, the staff trainer of over 72 nurses, believed the main reason why nurses are passionate about their jobs is because of the total dependency of the patient on them which grows to a `greater bond than love’.

“That is why we train them to help them understand that aging process is one that involves loss of faculties and pyschiatric issues like depression and delusion. Tackling them along with proper training in nursing is what we specialise in,” she says.

Warden at the nurse’s hostel Prema believes that every nurse under her care succeeds in their profession as it is no longer just care but love towards the patient that is crucial. “Their training begins with taking care of me, their 62-year-old mother,” she says with a smile. She is all words about one of her star pupils, Kalaiarasi, who succeeded in making sure that a patient who could not walk would be able to climb a staircase.

Operations-in-charge Saraswathy P recounted her experiences with patients and her family members who sought her help as a nurse during their last days. “Most people think we have seen pain and can understand it. But a nurse cannot predict when her patient will meet his or her end as they have a very active aura around them before their death,” she says.

Saraswathy believes that a person’s feelings before death cannot be simplified but can be understood as just a sense of warm gratification towards life and a sense of contentment. With a break in her voice, she remembered a 92-year-old patient who was so dependent on her. “They hate feeling dependant on someone. It is that reason why they keep saying that they are going to leave this world.” Her eyes glisten because of tears and she says the blessings nurses receive when they take care of patients act as passion that drives them. “He was my patient for two and a half years ago. I have seen all his funny antics but his passing away is something I cannot accept even today”.

Arulmozhi and Sasikala chimed in saying empathy is necessary as these people suffer irrational fears and paranoia at the fag end of their lives. Giving them confidence and saying they are not alone and strength to fight the fear are what make nurses special.

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