What kind of a patient was Jayalalithaa? Did she throw tantrums?

A Jayalalithaa who joked and played Apollo Doctors King Kong nurses on her final days
news Jayalalithaa Thursday, December 08, 2016 - 08:49

What kind of a patient was Jayalalithaa? Did she throw tantrums? Did she cooperate with the doctors? Did she follow the right diet?

The answers to these questions emerge from reports in Times of India, The Hindu and The New Indian Express.

There were some really heartening moments, according to the doctors and nurses, who spoke to the reporters during a condolence meeting held at the hospital. Here are some excerpts from the reports. 

"Several times, she would say, 'You tell me what to do. I will do it'," said C V Sheela, one of the nurses. "She smiled at us when we walked in, chatted with us, and, on most occasions, cooperated. When we were around, she made an effort to eat despite difficulties.

She would have one spoon for the sake of each of us and one for herself," Sheela added.

Jayalalithaa was brought to the emergency room on the night of September 22 in severe discomfort. Four hours later, when her vitals were stable, she woke up and asked for some sandwiches and coffee. "It had been a long journey for her since then," said Dr R Senthil Kumar, senior consultant, who led a team of intensive care experts. When she wasn't too tired, she would chat with duty doctors. She would give tips on skin care and sometimes 'ordered' them to change their hair style. "She always advised women to give themselves some time however busy they were," said medical director Dr Sathya Bhama.

One day, she told a room full of nurses and doctors to pack up and come to her Poes Garden residence. "Come, let's go home. I will serve you the best tea from Kodainadu," said critical care expert Dr Ramesh Venkataraman.

A team of 16 nurses, working in three eight-hour shifts on rotation took care of her right through, till the end. Three of them, however, were extra special. “She called these nurses, Sheela C.V., Renuka M.V, and Samundeeswari ‘King Kong’, and would ask for them, keeping track of their duty hours,” explains Sunitha, nursing superintendent at the hospital.

When physiotherapy was started, she would apparently make a game of knocking little balls around, chucking them at the nurses. “And when we started oral feeds, she would say each spoon she took was for a nurse, mentioning them by name,” Sr. Sunitha chimed in. She would play old Hindi and English songs from a pen drive, and moments of nursing care were filled with songs.

 It is said Dr. Beale gathered together the younger staff who were completely in awe of her in her room one day and advised them in her presence that in the hospital they would call the shots, even if their patient was the Chief Minister. “Though she was unable to speak then, she gestured to Dr. Beale: “No. Here, I’m the boss” with a beaming smile. Everyone burst out laughing then,” recalls Babu K. Abraham, critical care specialist.

Whenever someone entered her room, she would smile and ask, ‘What can I do for you?’” chief nursing superintendent Suneetha R recalls, adding that the nurses were moved by Jayalalithaa’s trust in them. “She would throw balls and play with us, in accordance with the physiotherapists’ instructions. She never refused our suggestions. Even when she wasn’t fond of her exercises, she wouldn’t refuse them, but say, ‘I’m tired, can we do this later?’”

But everything changed on that fateful Sunday evening. She was watching an old Tamil soap opera when an intensivist (name withheld) walked into her room. Jayalalithaa didn't smile or talk. She seemed breathless. By the time the doctor adjusted the ventilator, the monitors around her had flat-lined. She had suffered a cardiac arrest.


Read the full story on TOI by Pushpa Narayan here

Read the full story on The Hindu by Ramya Kannan here

Read the full story by Sushmitha Ramakrishnan here