Love makes life worth living

S. Deepa1, A. Letsonya2

Nursing Supervisor, Kauvery Hospital, Cantonment, Trichy, India

Critical Care Technician, Kauvery Hospital, Cantonment, Trichy, India


The greatest moment of satisfaction, which is also the most unforgettable and encouraging for an ICU nurse, is when she sees the happiness on the face of patients who come back to thank her for all the services rendered by her during the tumultuous course of their illness at the hospital.

This is one such story.

I woke up as usual. Unlike every other morning I was feeling strange that day. The thought of getting to the hospital in time for the hand over at the ICU was worrisome. I was asking myself, why am I a nurse? What am I getting for doing this tiresome and demanding job? Why should I do the many things I do as what I do goes unnoticed?

With this heavy heart, I went to the hospital. As I was waiting in the corridor for the elevator, I saw a man and a woman who walked toward me with happiness radiating from their faces. It was Mr. Anand and his wife.

Mr. Anand was a successful businessman. His wife was a great homemaker. They had a child who was school-going.

Anand was not feeling well for about 3 years; he was having easy fatiguability. It got so bad that it started to affect the efficiency of his work. He was diagnosed with diabetes 2 years back and was on treatment for the same. But he continued to worsen. Then he had the mild covid infection. He also began to lose weight steadily.

Two months later, he developed a low-grade fever which was evaluated at a hospital but was not diagnosed. He was empirically started on antibiotics as his cultures were negative.

As he did not improve, they came to the hospital where I was a nurse, on a night. He had a high-grade fever, with stable vitals, and mild respiratory failure, requiring minimal oxygen. He was complaining about pain in his left ear, cheek, and neck, and paresthesia on the left side of the body.

He was empirically started on antibiotics after sending all his cultures. He was admitted in ICU. I was on duty that night.

He was a cheerful man, but neither he nor I knew what we will go through for the next 3 weeks!

His investigations were not conclusive, and findings were rather nonspecific on the MRI of brain and cervical spinal cord. CSF examination was negative for meningitis. CT chest showed multiple mediastinal lymphadenopathies, left upper lobe pneumonia and patchy infiltration in other lobes.

I was there when the doctor explained his wife about these things. He told her that the infection could be melioidosis or tuberculosis. He started him on empirical treatment for melioidosis. On the next day, his condition worsened drastically. He developed rapidly worsening respiratory failure, severe hypotension with renal failure and stress cardiomyopathy. He deteriorated so rapidly that within the next 12 hours he was on mechanical ventilator in view of encephalopathy. Dual inotropes were started for his hypotension. His wife was in tears and was completely heartbroken after listening to the doctor saying that there was only thirty percent chance of his survival which would be even lower if he develops a secondary infection.

The next day the cultures grew Burholderia pseudo mallei, which causes melioidosis. As the patient was already on an appropriate antibiotic, the same was continued. Patient had severe melioidosis with multiorgan failure.

That evening, I asked her to get some medications. She spoke to me about the traumatic and hopeless situation that she was going through. I had no words to comfort her. For my part I decided to do my best for the patient. Being a senior staff in the ICU, I decided to do everything possible from the nursing side for the betterment of the patient. As the chances of his survival may become almost nil with a hospital acquired infection, we decided to reinforce our strict aseptic precautions including hand hygiene and its “five moments”.

Aggressive physiotherapy, ventilator care, diet and other care for the patient were done with tender loving care. After ten days of continued attention, Mr. Anand opened his eyes for the first time. It must have been a long sleep for him. He was feeling uncomfortable with the tracheotomy tube and he was not able to move his limbs. He had developed critical illness neuropathy.

That day when he saw his wife ‘apparently for the first time’ in his second life, he wept. His wife could not cry as she was motivating him and knew that her tears would hinder his recovery. She was a wonderful lady. She made me see the beauty of the greatest love among humans which is marital love. She lived her love. She would be at the bed side whenever possible just to talk to her sedated husband. She would motivate him and speak words of encouragement and never shed tears next to him.

This made me do my part as perfect as it could be done. Over a period of twenty, we could wean him from the ventilator to just oxygen. His LV functions improved and so were his other vital parameters. We were happy to see that he was shifted out of the ICU with no secondary infection and no bed sore during his ICU stay. God had worked his magic through human love.

I had not seen them after that but had heard that he got discharged about a week after he got shifted out of ICU.

The day I saw that couple, happy again, I was so excited to see him walk and be normal. He was blessed to have such a lady for his wife. All the events they and we went through flashed through my mind as she hugged me and said “Thanks for giving my husband back to me. You had cared for him when he was sick. We owe you our gratitude for life”.

These words humbled me immediately and, in an instant, made me feel that I was doing the right thing in my life as a Nurse.