“It was a night that will always stay with me”

FM's tribute to the selfless service of tens of thousands of nurses who confront the pandemic from the frontlines A COVID-19 story, as told by a nurse

“It was a night that  will always stay with me”

I have never faced a situation like this in my four-year-long nursing career — felt so helpless and terrified. 

When I signed up for the night shift on that day, little did I know how badly I would wish for it to come to an end. 

A patient was brought to us around midnight. One look at her was enough to tell me that she was one of us, a colleague. It was shocking to watch one of our own in that condition. 

The doctor looked at the patient and told us to prepare a ventilator as soon as possible. Her oxygen levels were dropping fast.

She asked me for a glass of water, but a patient about to be put on a ventilator cannot be given water. 

Her condition started deteriorating in front of our eyes. 

“We are going to give you a sedative, and put you on a ventilator,” the doctor whispered. 

I’m not sure how much of it she took in.

I readied the ventilator, got hold of some water and sponge to wet her lips, and went back to her bed.

The doctor was still talking to her. 

“If you want to talk to someone before being sedated, you can do so,” I heard the doctor say to her. 

I watched her fumble with her phone, desperately trying to unlock it. She seemed to have forgotten how to do it. I tried to help, but couldn’t. Meanwhile, her condition started worsening and she started losing consciousness. 

We quickly sedated her and put her on the ventilator.

Later, when the rush was over, I asked the doctor about the patient. 

“There’s no certainty that she will come back. I just thought her loved ones would appreciate an opportunity to speak with her one last time,” he explained.

His words overwhelmed me. I found it difficult to hold on, my eyes started filling up. 

Suddenly, I had this dreaded feeling that my failure to give her that glass of water would haunt me till the end of my days.

Suddenly, I saw myself in that bed. The faces of my husband, my daughter, my mother, my father and my sister started flashing before me. 

I felt like running out and screaming aloud, but couldn’t.

It was a night that will always stay with me. 

In the morning, as I showered off the night, I could no longer hold it in. It was time for the pent up tears to let loose. 

I don’t know how long I stood there lost in thought, but I had never felt as terrified as I did in that shower.

In the evening, I wrote several letters — to Kannettan [my husband], and to everyone else dear to my heart. I wanted to make sure that in case something like that happened to me, I didn’t leave without being able to tell them all the things I’d never got around to telling them, all the things I’d left unsaid.

I gave the letters to my friend with instructions that should something happen to me, they should reach those they’re intended for. 

The next thing I did was to remove the screen-lock from my phone. I didn’t want to end up like my colleague. I also put my husband and my mom’s numbers on speed-dial. One must be prepared at all times, I told myself.

My colleague is still fighting the virus. I doubt anyone is praying for her as hard as I am.

Right now, my only wish is that before I go, God should give me a chance to say a final goodbye to my daughter who stays with my mom.

This hospital is full of people like me — wives, daughters, mothers, sisters, fathers, husbands and sons. 

I am sure, behind their smiles, they are just as terrified as I am. 

Please keep us in your prayers as we keep you in ours, and let’s hope we overcome this together.  

— Sadhika

Straight Talk

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