Transformative Journey in Palliative Care: A Nurse’s Story

Ms Deepali Rajesh Kumar and Ms Maya Nair, Indore

Context: We, Maya Nair and Deepali Rajesh Kumar, are nurses from the Palliative Care team at Sri Aurobindo University in Indore. Through this article, we would like to share our transformative journey (both professional and personal) in the field of Palliative Care. Interestingly, the both of us firmly believe in Mark Bezo’s words, “Not every day is going to offer us a chance to save somebody’s life, but every day offers us an opportunity to affect one.

A little over a year ago, the both of us blindly stepped into Palliative Care not knowing what to expect or what our roles would be.

I (Maya) was formerly an Operation Theatre (OT) charge nurse, who focused on assisting surgeons while they operated on patients. Each of my work day usually ended with limited interaction with these patients. My only ever interaction was when the patients would come into an OT for a surgery. My recent experiences in palliative care have however, expanded my vision and boundaries, both personally and professionally.

I (Deepali) worked in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) during my initial years, following which, I worked as a resident nurse in a school before joining Palliative Care at Sri Aurobindo University in Indore. Working with kids gave me satisfaction for sure, but it is palliative care which has given me a deeper sense of purpose and fulfilment.

One of the first challenges that we as nurses faced in palliative care, was to treat our patient as a family. It was only then we realized that we had never cared about how patients were doing after their treatment or what they were going through during their stay in the hospital. Our CTC training sessions, meetups, and constant training from our palliative care colleagues at our hospital by Dr Pankaj Singhai (In-charge, Dept. of Palliative Medicine), Dr Dipti Saxena (Head, Dept. of Anaesthesiology), and Dr Swapnil Kumar Barasker (Assistant Professor, Dept .of Anesthesiology), have all taught us what it truly means to be a medical nurse, including the importance of providing meaningful emotional and social support for patients and their families.

Despite our short journey in palliative care over the past year, several cases have transformed us both professionally and personally, at a very deep and an inner level. We would like to share a special story which touched our hearts deeply.

This is the story of Kishor (name changed).

Kishor is a young man who had been in a road traffic accident. Before his accident, Kishore worked as a puncture repairman to support his family. He was therefore socio economically poor.

When we first saw Kishor, he was unconscious, paralyzed, and was connected to several medical devices, including a Naso Gastric Tube, a Foley’s catheter, and a tracheostomy tube. We noticed his poor hygienic state, his multiple injuries and bedsores, and realised that his general condition was also deteriorating. The ICU team had predicted poor prognosis for Kishore, after almost a month of caring for him. This is what led Kishor to be transferred to the palliative care department.

Our palliative care team decided to not to give up on Kishor’s care despite his condition. We provided him total care, which included regular hygiene checks, physiotherapy sessions, and providing him with a well-balanced diet. Although our initial goal was to provide end-of-life care, we did everything we could to improve his quality of life.

After a week of care, Kishor started responding to our conversations and was able to move parts of his body. Eventually, he had his tracheostomy tube removed and was able to breathe on his own. With two and a half months of care, Kishor became like family to us. We even arranged meals for his family members when we noticed that they were struggling to make arrangements for food. All of this, made Kishor feel a sense of belonging and prevented him from feeling abandoned by the world.

Over time, we noticed a significant shift in Kishor and his family’s perspective on life. They also began to adopt a positive outlook in life as Kishor began showing signs of improvement. The holistic care provided by our team also helped Kishor regain his liveliness. Due to the privilege of being a nurse, we were able to closely monitor Kishor’s condition, administer medications, and perform the necessary medical procedures with love and compassion, which we believe to have also played a crucial role in ensuring Kishor’s comfort. As a part of providing care for Kishor, we were also proactive in educating both Kishor and his family about Kishor’s condition, the available treatment options, and support services, in a language and pace they understood. Fortunately, we also had access to resources which allowed us to provide invaluable guidance and support to Kishor and his family throughout the entire process, all of which resulted in significantly improving Kishor’s physical and emotional well-being.

Kishor was soon well enough to be discharged. Kishor still maintains contact with our team. He has made a remarkable recovery and is able to now walk, ride a bicycle, and has also returned to his job.

This experience made us realize that end-of-life care should not be viewed as someone’s last days, but as an opportunity for a new life. It is essential to not give up and treat our patients with the utmost love and care, regardless of the outcome.

This story for us, is a testament that palliative care is not just about medical treatment but also about providing compassion, empathy, and support to patients and their families. We believe in the power of holistic care that addresses physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Our belief encapsulates the idea that we can make a difference in someone’s life every day, even if it is not in the form of saving their life.

We feel truly grateful for the opportunity to be able to work in the field of palliative care and witness the profound impact it has on the lives of patients and their loved ones. It has not only transformed our professional careers but has also touched our hearts deeply. We are committed to continuing our journey in palliative care, bringing comfort, dignity, and hope to those in need.

Together, we can create a compassionate and supportive healthcare system that truly values the well-being of every individual.

About the Authors:

Ms Deepali Rajesh Kumar is a mother to a high school son. She maintains a disciplined life that includes practicing meditation and finding solace in reading novels during her leisure time. She is also a great listener and loves music.

Ms Maya Nair is a mother to an artistic daughter. She possesses a keen interest in fashion designing, gardening, and cooking. Her creative nature allows her to readily take on challenges effectively.

Leave a comment