Amma was fond of her daughter and anyone who looked like her – which to her was every lady between 20 and 50!
With amma making hospitals her second home for some years (especially in 2015 when she was admitted five times), she had found a new set of companions – nurses.
Every time I went into the emergency room to meet her she would immediately beckon the nurse attending to her, and after introducing me, hold the nurse’s hand and mushily say, “I consider you my daughter”. Sometimes, she waxed eloquent and went on to tell the nurse about my sister (who is also working as a nurse in the US), about me and how concerned she was that I had not yet settled down in life.
These sentimental episodes were embarrassing to me at first, but with time I came to see them as her positive, distinct characteristics. While other patients in the room were quiet, either because they were too ill or were scared of death, here was this funny lady trying to get more daughters added to her family basket while she could be gone the next day, thus subtracting one from it. 21
This was quintessential amma. During all her many emergency hospitalizations in the last ten years, she rarely bothered to ask me what her real ailment was. She was just present in the present, and not too worried about the future. 22 I’m so glad she was like that all her life. Bravo!
In a way, it is paradoxical that she was so concerned about trivial things like lights and locks, but hardly bothered about death. Perhaps this was the reason she lived the life she lived – a life with some concerns, but no fear.
While on the topic of nurses, they come in all forms – some of them are very good and some of them, real misfits.
A male nurse once accompanied amma and me in an ambulance for taking a CT scan. Right from the start, it was apparent that even I would have made a better nurse – and that is really saying a lot! He kept dropping things all along, did not fully know how to operate emergency equipment, and while getting down from the ambulance, he hit his head hard against the roof, resulting in severe pain and a small swelling on his head.
Once inside the scan center, as he sat next to Amma clutching his head with both hands, twisting and turning, everyone thought that the nurse was the patient.
The message about his poor career choice couldn’t have been more forceful.
21. I’m not sure how the nurses felt about or responded to amma’s mushy conversations, but a study in a Seoul hospital showed that balancing information exchange and psychosocial exchange is most effective interactions in the emergency department – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20220286/
22. Studies suggest about 40% of people like amma – those, with chronic, life threatening illnesses – suffer from significant psychological stress during and post hospitalization.
Read Amma the fun way!
Do you know that you can read specific chapters alone of Amma depending on who you are and what interests you? So, we have selected chapters that could be of interest to young, middle-aged and old men & women, to medical and white collar professionals, to those wishing to know specifically about heart problems, blood pressure or leg ailments, medical management of seniors & elders, and even those interested in reading some fun and humour.
We even have a treasure hunt designed for you to ferret out 100+ interesting facts.