A friend whom she can count on for as long as she needs me.
I have been a nurse at the Specialist Outpatient Clinic for the past11 years, meeting patients from all walks of life. Some are more vulnerable, living alone with little or no family or social support. I would pay special attention to them as I recalled how when I was young, my parents were always giving away food to those in need even though we were not wealthy. In fact, I went into nursing to make my dad proud, he had always wanted me to help others and would constantly spur me to be a better person.
I first met Siti 3 years ago, when she came to the clinic for a wound dressing after her surgery. Siti suffers from end stage kidney failure, poorly controlled diabetes and intense chest pains. I heard from colleagues that she was frequently not in compliance with her dialysis treatment. Her health condition was not well-controlled, she had to return to the emergency room repeatedly.
I was curious and decided to understand what was causing her to miss her crucial dialysis sessions. I started chatting with her and learnt that she lived in Johor and made her way to Singapore for treatment 3 times a week. With her limited mobility, she has been struggling for many years. Her increasingly debilitating health conditions has rendered her unable to work. She also has poor family support and lives alone all by herself.
When Siti finally managed to secure a rental flat in Singapore last year, I decided to pay her a visit. The home was completely unfurnished, with no bed, table or chairs. I bought her a bed so she could rest and groceries. I mobilised my friends and family, who kindly donated basic household items to make the place more comfortable.
Siti’s favourite hobby is cooking and she loves to make curry. There are times when she suddenly experienced chest pains or dizziness while cooking and had to be rushed to the hospital. She would call me to give me the keys to her house, so that I could put her partially cooked food in the fridge.
Then I thought to myself, what would happen when she returned home? I decided to finish the cooking for her so that she would have something to eat when she discharged. As she uses a walking frame and has difficulties with her mobility. I vacuumed, washed the dishes and did the laundry.
I would often nag at her and make sure she attends her dialysis sessions. But I am also aware that dialysis makes her weak, with a tendency to black out. I would ask her to call me once she has reached home after each dialysis session. On a few occasions, Siti neither called nor answered any of her calls. I immediately went to her home and found her either unwell or unconscious. With my husband’s help, we would rush her to the Emergency Department.
Siti cherishes her independence and likes to go outdoors in her mobility scooter. However, she is at high risk of losing consciousness. To discourage her from heading out alone, I will organise trips to some of her favourite places, such as West CoastPark. Sometimes, we would bring Siti to visit her bedridden sister who has dementia after a stroke.
I am pleased that Siti is now more compliant with her dialysis treatment and medication. Yet, I am also aware her condition is like a time bomb. I just want to do what I can to bring her some joy. I will be here for her as a friend whom she can count on for as long as she needs me.
Zubaidah Bte Osman
About Ng Teng Fong General Hospital & Jurong Community Hospital
The Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH) and Jurong Community Hospital (JCH) are members of the National University Health System (NUHS), a leading academic health system and one of three public healthcare clusters in Singapore.
Known as the JurongHealth Campus, NTFGH and JCH are Singapore’s first integrated healthcare development designed and built together from the ground up. Designed around the patients’ needs, the twin development enables NTFGH patients who no longer require acute care to be easily transferred to rehabilitate and recuperate in JCH. Both hospitals are also managed by one healthcare team to facilitate integration at all levels to enable better patient care, greater efficiency and convenience. NTFGH is also the first in Singapore and ASEAN to attain HIMSS EMRAM Stage 7, with JCH at HiMSS EMRAM Stage 6 – an achievement which recognises hospitals with the highest level of adoption and utilisation of electronic medical record functions.
As part of an integrated academic health system, NTFGH and JCH, in collaboration with partners in the healthcare continuum, aims to transform healthcare to deliver holistic and seamless patient-centred care.
For more information, please visit www.ntfgh.com.sg | www.jch.com.sg | www.nuhs.edu.sg
Delivering ‘Incredible care and health, together!’