A joyous tossing of yusheng, a traditional Lunar New Year dish. Elders presenting children with red packets. The convivial buzz as extended family members catch up with each other in a welcoming, beautifully decorated home.
Festive gatherings are always special but because of one of my patients, a 98-year-old gentleman, this year’s Chinese New Year celebrations were especially poignant for me.
It all began last December, when Speedoc was engaged by this patient’s family members to manage his recurring lung infection. He was already frail, his condition worsened by his symptoms and was at an age where even eating and drinking was difficult. We were all prepared for the inevitable.
He had only one wish.
“Will you help me see everyone one last time for one last Chinese New Year?”
At Speedoc, we are often called in for end-of-life care. This is when elderly or terminally ill patients and their family engage our 24/7 doctor and nurse housecall services to provide the patient with the care they need in their final days.
Every case we handle is unique and different but there is one common reason connecting all those who choose this option – home is where the heart is. During these patients’ precious last days, our aim is to bring the hospital to them so they do not have to be warded or waste time making trips to a clinic. It is emotionally wrenching for the team but at the same time very rewarding to see our patients being much happier and more comfortable at home, surrounded by their families and loved ones.
For end-of-life care, instead of seeking out invasive and immediate, all-encompassing treatment, our Speedoctors do our best to ensure the patient feels comfortable and lucid. We understand that these last weeks, days and sometimes hours or minutes, are for spending quality time with their closest and dearest and want to help them make the most of it.
So, I’ve seen our nurses and doctors quietly brush away tears and put on a brave smile while administering treatment as unobtrusively as possible. All this to allow the family the space to say their goodbyes in a dignified and meaningful manner.
The case of the 98-year-old patient and his final request struck a chord with me. It reminded me of why I chose to become a doctor – not just to treat the ill but to care for those in need.
It was also a rather complicated situation. While it is not unusual for a terminally ill person to ask a medical team to prolong his life for as long as possible, this patient had a specific time frame in mind that was much longer than the initial prognosis.
When we first met him, the patriarch was looking forward to the upcoming festive season more than a month away. This would be when his 10 children, grandchildren and even members of his extended family would fly in from all corners of the globe to see him for the last time. As he was already so weak, the team was unsure if he would be able to hold on for such a long time. Nevertheless, we promised we would do everything in our power.
For the rest of December and January, I stayed in constant contact with the family. Besides conducting regular housecalls, I made it a point to look out for updates on his condition via Speedoc’s in-app chat, so that I could offer advice – as well as reassurance – whichever better suited the situation.
Perhaps it was the renewed hope and comfort he felt at being in familiar surroundings, or the careful, personalised medical attention he received, but we all got to experience a small miracle. He pulled through and was able to spend a joyous final Chinese New Year with his family. I will always remember and draw inspiration from his determination and willpower and I am honoured he chose the Speedoc team to help him along the way.
THIS is the reason why we continue to do what we do at Speedoc. We will move mountains for our patients and we will always care for you just like you are our family.
This post was written by Dr. Shravan Verma, MD, Founder & CEO of Speedoc.