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19 Minutes Natalya Nyawade

I've always had the greatest amount of faith in healthcare; when asked what I would be when I grow up it was always veterinarian, doctor, nurse, public health educator, etc. For interests and hobbies I was more than happy to volunteer in hospitals and animal shelters. In fact most of the TV shows I watched in high school were heavily centered around hospitals or fire departments. This led me to believed that healthcare systems are founded on the basis on helping people recover and be healthy.

My family is all scattered across the globe between three time zones so we communicate mainly over WhatsApp. On July 25th 2019, in the early hours of the morning I received a text message from my mother that my grandmother was rushed to hospital.

Thursday, July 25th 2019

"Nyanya" and "Dani" are the two names I grew up calling my grandmother. The text messages I include below are sent to me by my mother.

Friday, July 26th 2019

Updates on my grandmother's health trickled in day by day and everything seemed to be going well. She wasn't as ill but was nonetheless hospitalized and receiving care as advised by the medical staff. We continued to stay hopeful trusting the process of her healing.

Monday, July 29th 2019
Monday, July 29th 2019

On the 29th of July her recovery seemed very promising and quite honestly I wasn't worried. People get sick but hospitals make them better than when they arrived. My naivety calmed my emotions about her illness when I should've been critiquing her care from the moment she stepped into the ICU.

Slightly after the good news, the doctors changed their diagnosis as her condition worsened. She had acquired an infection from her time in hospital that was causing more stress to her breathing.

Tuesday, July 30-31st 2019

I began to feel as through the doctors did not have a firm handle on her care and diagnosis. It seemed suspicious that a diabetic would be rushed to hospital in relation to her blood sugar and a week later be battling with lung infections, and possibly pneumonia.

Monday August 5th, 2019

As her breathing continued to be an issue, one of her lungs collapsed so the Doctors scheduled a tracheostomy. The procedure provides patients with breathing assistance by means of a ventilator; the side effect of that was unable to speak. The surgery went well and she spent some days on the ventilator, and others trying to breathe unassisted.

Once again good news came around on what marked her forth week in hospital. My grandmother was finally getting discharged and her health was looking good. She was taken back home with all the recommendations the doctors suggested, including a home care nurse.

Thursday August 22nd, 2019

When we spoke to the family, she was extremely happy to be back home. She slept well through the night but by the next morning, she was rushed back to the hospital emergency room. After being admitted to general ward for observation, the nurses confirmed that it was her oxygen levels that brought her back. They recommended food, rest, and the purchase of an at home oxygen tank for assistance.

Thursday August 29th 2019

So much frustration and filled our hearts at this point. So many complications had arose within the month and all due to her stay in hospital. Her breathing and infections got worse. Doctors seemed to be always one step behind when it came to her diagnosis and treatment.

By September 24th 2019, my grandmother had been in the hospital for 9 weeks and she had lost a lot of her energy in the process. She was then moved into isolation due to the persistence of her infections.

Throughout her time in hospital my mother made sure there was always a family member present for her care. The nurses have many patients to attend to and you can never be certain that they will respond to her needs. A problem in this particular hospital.

Saturday October 5th, 2019

On this particular night, the nurses were to handle her care between visiting hours. My grandmother was moved into a private unit for the night where the nurses said we would need a family member present to watch her through the night. She suffered a heart attack and it took a 19 minutes for them to respond and stabilize her. Nineteen minutes.

Take a moment to think about how many things you can accomplish in 19 minutes. Think of how far you can drive, how much you can read, and how long of a tv-show you can watch. In nineteen minutes, the doctors and nurses on duty could not or did not respond to her care on time.

"There is generally a better neurological outcome with a shorter duration of CPR in survivors of cardiac arrest however a cut-off beyond which resuscitation is likely to lead to unfavourable outcome could not be determined and is unlikely to exist."

My grandmother lay there with a heartbeat but comatose and showing no signs of brain activity. Within the next two days, her organs went through failure. On the 7th of September 2019 at 6:45am in Kisumu, Kenya, Nyaya passed away. 10 weeks and 4 days after being hospitalized for blood sugar.

A hospital signified a place where nurses and doctors did everything they could to provide care to patients to see them recover. My grandma went into hospital for aide and never came out.

This is a call to healthcare system in Kenya. The attitudes nurses and doctors have need change. Patients should not require family/friends to ensure they aren't being ignored.

Citation: Welbourn, Clare, and Nikolaos Efstathiou. “How does the length of cardiopulmonary resuscitation affect brain damage in patients surviving cardiac arrest? A systematic review.” Scandinavian journal of trauma, resuscitation and emergency medicine vol. 26,1 77. 10 Sep. 2018, doi:10.1186/s13049-018-0476-3

Credits:

Created with an image by Anthony DELANOIX - "untitled image"