Nursing wasn’t my first choice of profession. Originally I wanted to be someone who works in an office but that perspective changed when I took up nursing. Nursing has taught me love. I joined Nursing in 2009 and for the past three years, I’ve been attached to the Palliative ward. In a ward where nursing is so much a part of life and death, every day is different. You meet different people and you learn their stories and life. For instance, I had few elderly patients whose spouse visited them every day, buying or cooking their own food to care for them. And yet, there were also patients who were left alone right until their passing. It is really scenes like this that makes you reflect and learn to love unconditionally and not take life for granted.
One of the most unforgettable moments was when I had to nurse a young patient. She was barely 19 years old and was very ill. As she was still young, she was very conscious about other people helping her bathe and change and would only want her mother to look after her. She was also strong willed and didn’t want anyone looking after her. To get to know her better, I bought her a bear and a get well card and slowly talked to her. Eventually she opened up and shared with me her frustrations. She had wanted to get a diploma and have a staycation with her family but given her condition, she knew she wouldn’t be able to realise her dreams. Knowing her wishes, although we were not able to fulfil her wish of getting a diploma, we did our best to make her staycation come true. As she was too weak to be discharged, we decorated her room and planned an indoor staycation for her at the ward.
One day, I was going on a week’s leave and I assured her that I would be back to look after her soon. However, two days into my leave, my colleagues told me she passed away. It was one of the saddest moments for me as I was unable to be with her when she passed and I felt that perhaps had I not gone on leave, I would have been able to be with her. But at the same time, I was glad that in the time that we looked after her, we were able to cheer her up. Our team also worked with the Medical Social Workers to follow up with her mother to ensure she was coping properly.
In a way, working as a nurse in the Palliative Ward, it changes your character and mentality. Seeing this delicate balance of life and death, it makes you reflect on your own life and what you want to bring to your patients. Most of the patients who get admitted, they are in pain, some of them are alone and some are still very young. Yet each patient has their own unique story and personality and it is how we try to understand them that we are able to bring comfort and cheer them on.
Nurshilawaty Binte Jamaludin
Senior Assistant Nurse, Ward 83
Tan Tock Seng Hospital