Loading...
Processing... Please wait.

“Precious Gems 8″ – Seeing DOUBLE
30 December 2016

During this festive season, HCA’s work – and that of our patients’ caregivers – goes on. I would like to share two stories of dedication and care to remind us that there is much good in the world, even in the toughest of times.

Although I was struck with a wave of sadness, seeing two elderly, terminally ill people in the same house, I felt so proud of Mr Tan who resigned from his job to look after both his parents.

We called out to Mr Tan*, our patient’s son and caregiver, as we stood at the gates. The square living room was spacious and an assortment of toys was neatly stacked along one wall. A religious alter stood on the opposite wall and the air had a light tinge of aromatic joss-sticks. There were two bedrooms facing each other and a helper came out of one to open the gate for us. Mr Tan had gone out to run an errand.

As I stood between the two doorways, I could see a pair of legs, with bandaged feet on a hospital bed, in the room on my left. In the room to my right, Aunty Chan* was also lying on a hospital bed. Our nurse quickly explained that we were there to see Aunty Chan, who has severe heart failure. Before we could say our hellos to Aunty Chan, the helper asked our nurse to check on the diabetic wounds on Uncle Tan’s* feet. Uncle Tan also suffers from dementia. Our nurse obliged as Uncle Tan was also our patient. Uncle Tan was drowsy and barely opened his eyes, whilst our nurse helped with the dressing of the wounds.

In the meantime, Aunty Chan waited patiently for our nurse. At 72, she was hard of hearing. She had just been discharged from the hospital yesterday and grumbled at how little human contact there was at the hospital. She went on to tell us that when she used the call button, a robot would come. When she wanted to get her diapers changed, the robot would bring her a new diaper and would also help her dispose of her used one. The nurse and I wondered if Aunty Chan was confused or if we were behind the times and did not know that hospitals were using robots to help with nursing care. I found out later that indeed, robots are used in some hospital. She went on to say that she had also met Hades, the god of the underworld, and she was very afraid. Our nurse encouraged her to think positively and to let her son know if there was anything else she wanted or needed to do.

Although I was struck with a wave of sadness, seeing two elderly, terminally ill people in the same house, I felt so proud of Mr Tan who resigned from his job to look after both his parents. He is probably having a difficult time and I wish him the strength he needs to continue with this difficult task.

These two ladies were taking very good care of Mr Ali and I felt very glad that even during this difficult time, the family was harmonious and at peace.

At our next patient’s home, we were greeted by two ladies, one slightly older than the other. The older of the two told us that our patient, Mr Ali* had just had his bath and she went into the room to wheel him out. Mr Ali, who has a brain tumour, could not speak and only his left side was mobile. She expertly lifted Mr Ali out of bed and put him on the wheelchair. In the living room, the younger lady gave him a shoulder massage. Both of them provided updates to our nurse on Mr Ali’s well-being. They were as close as sisters, describing that Mr Ali would have two pratas for breakfast, some rice with vegetables for lunch and dinner and four pieces of biscuits for tea. The ladies asked if they could engage a speech therapist, so that they could communicate with Mr Ali. Our nurse suggested to get a board with the alphabet and other pictures, for Mr Ali to point to, as a start. She did a small test with Mr Ali, writing a few letters on paper and asked Mr Ali to point to “A”, “G” and “J”, which he did successfully.  Mr Ali seemed happy, smiling from time to time and co-operating fully while our nurse examined him.

I was trying to figure out the relationship of the three and our nurse informed me that the two ladies were Mr Ali’s wives. These two ladies were taking very good care of Mr Ali and I felt very glad that even during this difficult time, the family was harmonious and at peace.

*not their real names

Have a peace-filled and healthy Christmas and New Year!