I initially specialized in stoma and also in cancer patients. After that, I joined a cancer hospital as a principal senior tutor. Within six years, I was promoted to Principal of the College of Nursing. We started a College of Nursing and a Principal College of Nursing. In 2015, I retired after almost 24 years of life.
I had a passion and was fully focused to serve the patients for reparative care, so I did a summer course after my retirement. Post that, I joined the Ostomy Association of India. Now, I am a nursing aide for the Ostomy Association for India for all the conferences, patient-specific problems, and preparation. The typical patients are referred every day of the consultation. I aid the patients in what the therapies to go for, what can be different solutions, and how to take care of the wound. This is what I specialized in.
Helping patients cope with trauma
Most of the time, when the patients find that they have cancer, they are shocked. Most of them are in denial. There is denial to accept that it is cancer or what is the stage of their cancer. The important thing in cancer is the stage. Once they grasp whether they have 2nd, 3rd stage, or operative, non-operative. We show them some videos to convince them. When they accept, we assign caregivers to consult with. We do dedicated counselling as well as general counselling. And that’s how we convince the patient. Many of them go to other hospitals. Then they come back again. Most of them are still reluctant to go to the doctor after the diagnosis because they think that there’s no hope in their life.
Motivating the patients
Generally, patients get convinced there’s no way. When they see the videos and notice that other patients are living. So they interact with other patients to know how they leave. This is how they get self-motivated to undergo the operation, undergo chemotherapy and rest other things.
Colostomy bags are a big problem for the patients. they don’t want the colostomy to be done to them. They ask if you can do anything but not get a colostomy. If they don’t go for this and keep their condition untreated then it can turn into cancer. So, it’s better to go for a colostomy and live a life.
Support groups for caregiving
We have got support groups, there are 16 support groups just in Bangalore and others in cities like Kerala. We are interlinked with each other so we know each other’s contact numbers. If a patient approaches us then we refer them to our support groups. Support groups are very important. The ones leading these groups often conduct webinars to tackle any problems. The colostomy is traumatic for the patients and causes a lot of skin problems when one puts the bag. They have to take it out ten times a day. We teach them how to put back the bag, how to keep it for you, how to change it, when to change it, and what their diet is. They must be educated so that there won’t be any complications and patients should be completely confident.
Many patients have financial problems while going through chemotherapy, radiation, and operations. We also are in contact with social workers and we refer them to our patients. We try to get help in different ways to meet whatever their needs may be and try all things that help in the recovery apart from the routine treatment, considering all the other factors that help in the easiest recovery of the patient first. Psychological acceptance is very important. So you need counselling for mental acceptance and hope that they will recover. Counselling is required from different angles i.e economic angle, physical angle, psychological angle, social angle, and also spiritual angle. Spirituality is also very important because they are frightened to die.
Why did I choose this specialization?
I specialized in Ostomy and earned the certificate. I believe that I have quite a good hand skill. Most of my patients are healed in my journey of 35 years. I don’t like anybody personally undergoing any problems. Even my family members are in similar fields and they refer stomach patients to me if they cannot handle them.
Managing personal and professional life
It’s difficult to manage sometimes. My family knows and is completely aware of what I’m doing because they are all in the same field and I have great support from my family.
Message to other caregivers
I would ask the other caregivers to have hope and faith who are still going through their cancer journeys. They should also pray because prayer is very important according to me.