A Mother’s Grief – A Page from my diary.

Image: AP Photo/John Moore

This is a true story from a diary, I used to maintain during my MBBS days. This event occurred in February 2002, when I was pursuing my internship at the District Government Hospital, which was then aided by the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Belgaum. While cleaning up some old stuff lying about, I came across this one and have decided to put it up here.

Many people pride themselves on being very professional. They don’t mix their business and personal lives and everything works out fine. Fine, at least, until tragedy strikes both.

I work with a nurse who is both an excellent nurse and a wonderful person. She cares more about people than anyone I’ve ever met. She works in the Intensive Care Unit of our hospital and cares for critical condition patients. Two weeks ago her nine-year-old son was hit by a van while riding a bicycle and was seriously injured. The boy suffered massive head injuries, including skull fractures. Although the prognosis was bleak, a top neurosurgeon thought the boy had a chance if surgery could be performed. At the time, surgery was impossible due to tremendous swelling of the brain, so the doctors waited.

30 nostalgic photos of manipal 1997 to 2001
Image: AP Photo/John Moore

As the night went on, complications set in. The boys blood pressure and heart-rate would soar to dangerously high proportions and then slow to low ones. After testing, doctors decided that this was neurological. If you’ve never felt sick from watching someone’s face, try looking into the face of a mother who knows her son is dying. A mother who knows everything about critical care and knows damn well her son is going to die. The fact that she has comforted other mothers whose children have died in her unit seems so insignificant now.

This event has been very upsetting for me. I watched the doctors work hard all night and I felt so helpless. I wanted to do something to help, but all I could do was go to the hospital temple and pray for the little boy and his wonderful mother. The following morning, I donated blood in his name as he used two units the night before.

At 11;45 a.m. last Friday, he died. Earlier that morning, a test called an electroencephalogram (EEG) was performed (This test measures electrical activity of the brain) The read-out was flat; his brain was dead, so the respirator that was keeping his body alive was unplugged.

The worst thing about this whole terrible event is that the boy died in the unit his mother works in every night. I don’t think that I would have the courage to return to work. I wouldn’t be able to care for a patient in the same bed my son died in. I do hope she has the strength, because if she doesn’t return, we will be without one of the best nurses and kindest people I have ever known. I really care about this lady and share her tremendous grief. And I’m not the only one.  A lot of people loved the boy and his parents.

Probably the one thing that impressed me the most was seeing the one surgeon there that thought the child had a chance. This is a rare event and was real proof that even doctors are affected by the death of a patient. I now have a lot more respect for the man than I ever did before.

Fortunately, this nurse has indicated that she will return to work as soon as she can. We will try to welcome her back as a friend that has been missed without over-doing the pity. We will try to make her return as easy as possible for her and we will pray that she is the same wonderful lady who had to leave us.

P.S.: Soon after this incident, I had to do a 3 month stint at a rural set up and lost contact with the nurse.

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