Kathmandu: While moving across the ICU Ward, tending one patient to another, it’s not unusual for Seema Subedi, a 24-year-old nurse working at Nepal Armed Police Force (APF) Hospital, to grow a strong emotional bond with her patients.
She recalls one incident involving one of the patients that have left an indelible memory. The patient in question was in a critical condition, awaiting death. He was in no condition to speak, but he could write. “He wrote on a piece of paper that,” Subedi recalls, “he wanted to go home and die with his family beside him before he took his last breath.”
Subedi’s voice broke when she recalled this memory. For her, these kinds of incidents happen almost every day. She said she feels like crying but her job requires her to stay strong.
Subedi has been a nurse at Nepal APF Hospital for nearly two years, having been in the job for just about a year when Covid struck. The virus has got her too. At the time of this interview, she had just recovered from Covid and was now back to work.
Subedi says that she does not only take care of her patient’s medical needs but also tries to be there for them emotionally. “Not having the family around while one is sick can be very difficult,” Subedi said. “Instead, the patients get in touch with their family through phone calls or video calls.”
For her, being around those calls gets quite emotional. Most of her patients are usually in a critical condition, she said. Some of them are sure of not making it back home, therefore ask their family to visit them. “They ask their family to visit them because they don’t want to die alone,” said Seema.
Although families are not allowed inside the ICU ward, she makes sure her patients aren’t alone and stays with them while they take their last breath. “Their eyes search for a familiar face till the end,” she said. Observing all this can be heartbreaking; she feels like crying her heart out, but she cannot afford to do so, she says. “Being a nurse means to fight back your tears and start drawing smiles on people’s faces.”
“Being a nurse means to fight back your tears and start drawing smiles on people’s faces.”
There are times when she is able to bring back the smiles on many faces. She reminisces about the moment where one of her patients was transferred out of the ICU ward. “He had a bright smile on his face and he said he will remember us all and that all the nurses were like his daughter,” shared Subedi. This was one moment in her duty that really made her heart warm. After a long time, she had tears of joy while saying goodbye to one of her patients.
While she goes about her work, Subedi’s phone gets busy, with calls and messages from her family, though she can’t pick it up. “They are really proud of me, but they are also worried,” she said.
Not being able to see each other for days is difficult for both her and her family. But she is ready to make that sacrifice if it means to save other people’s lives. She believes that this is what she was meant to do.
“I am really happy to be of help in this crisis,” said Subedi. “I vow to serve people as long as this pandemic requires me to.”