We have always read stories of hope, faith, courage, the indomitable human spirit and the impossible will to live. But how many of us read about the science and conviction that keeps doctors going? Sheela Devi’s journey is one such, of the doctors who struggle with her for 30 days in the ICU of PGI, Chandigarh, and who walked out of the neurology ward with her.
THE DAY OF THE ACCIDENT
It was a normal working day for Sheila, 40, a bus attendant at Carmel Convent School for Girls in Sector 9, Chandigarh. The morning of July 8 started early, about 4 a.m. to be exact, because the single mother of two teenagers, who finished her household chores to catch the school bus at 6 a.m. the morning Sheela, who has been working at Carmel for the past eight years, was on her way to the school’s auditorium when she saw a 250-year-old peepul tree on campus fall under its own weight, trapping students eating lunch under its weight . shadow Hearing screams of distress, Sheela rushed to rescue the trapped girls when a stray branch from the 70-foot-tall tree fell on her, causing severe head injuries. As many as 18 children were seriously injured, and even one lost his life in the tragedy.
THE MANAGEMENT OF TRAUMA
Sheela was rushed to PGI’s Advanced Trauma Center on July 8 in critical condition and in altered sensory with multiple severe injuries and fractures, including her spine. She was immediately intubated and her airway secured. She was transferred to the trauma ICU and underwent an X-ray of the head and spine. Imaging showed left extradural hemorrhage with cerebral edema, multiple maxillofacial fractures, and wedge compression fractures of the spinal area. She was mechanically ventilated and tracheotomized on July 12. Little by little, her senses improved and she was weaned from the ventilator on July 18, 26.
Sheela was subsequently transferred to the Neurology Care ward for further management and responded well to all treatment interventions, was hemodynamically stabilized and discharged exactly after one hospitalization of month at PGI on August 8. Professor Kajal Jain of the Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, Dra. Aastha Takkar from the Department of Neurology, Dr. Apinder Preet Singh from the Department of Neurosurgery, Dr. Ranjana Singh and Dr. Raman Sharma from the Department of Hospital Administration along with senior residents, nursing staff and assistants formed the core team. that treated Sheela. “To be honest, our effort is always to save lives, but we don’t know which clicks. Sheela reached the hospital early and I am proud to say that PGI has a robust trauma system,” says Prof Jain.
‘HE MUST ADAPT TO SITUATIONS. WHAT IS IMPORTANT IS TEAMWORK’
Trauma claims the lives of young and old alike and hence there is a need for the medical fraternity to give a structured program that favors our environments in India, instead of following a program from the West. PGI’s internationally recognized Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) program is the only one of its kind in the country that creates a team that understands the nuances of accidents and emergencies in the triage area.
“Our regular drills, tests and simulation scenes in the event of natural disasters and accidents have trained our senior residents and emergency team to take immediate action. The logistics and systems are in place, the residents are absolutely thorough with the steps and no one has to be told what to do.From rushing in with the right equipment when the ambulance arrives with the patient to the entire treatment, it’s a seamless flow of steps, and I think that helped Sheila get the best immediate treatment,” reflects Professor Jain. The first 10-minute interval after trauma, the platinum ten, adds that Professor Jain is vital before the golden hour and saves lives.
Professor Jain says Sheila’s recovery was made possible by the teamwork of doctors and health professionals from various departments working together to take care of every aspect of her medical treatment. “We were all very excited. It was emotionally trying to see her children crying in the hallways, because their mother is all they have. We, at that time, had 11 other patients in the ICU and also two children who had suffered serious injuries. So yes, we were struggling. But Sheila is young, has no comorbidities, and we had a strong support system. It was wonderful to see her recover and walk on her own after discharge,” says Professor Jain with satisfaction.
On August 8, Sheela was given a grand send-off at PGI’s homecoming, with the brave woman receiving a standing ovation from the students and staff of Carmel Convent School, her two sons, family and friends, and the team of PGI, responsible for it. miraculous recovery Prof. Vipin Koushal, Medical Superintendent, PGI, recalls how Sheela’s daughter, had full faith in the almighty and the PGI team. “Every time I found her, she told me that her mother would talk and open her eyes, and this has been possible thanks to the enormous teamwork of the doctors from different departments, the nursing staff and her supporters. Our director, Prof. Vivek Lal, a neurologist himself, was personally involved in every aspect of this case,” shares Prof. Koushal. The only earning member of his family, with Covid taking a toll on health monetary, financial and emotional support Sheela received from various sections of society, including the Chandigarh administration and school staff.
“THE PGI TEAM GAVE ME A SECOND LEASE OF LIFE”
Sheela is back home and her children are taking care of her. He hopes to return to school after making a full recovery in another eight to nine months and completing his follow-up treatment at PGI. “In this month of struggles and difficult times, there were a thousand moments of fear and anxiety for the unknown, hopelessness and despair. But the PGI team, with their constant medical and psychological support, helped me emerge victorious and get out of this near-death situation. I am deeply touched by the care and compassion. Indeed, words are not enough to express my gratitude to the PGI team for giving me this second life,” says Sheela.
Life has come full circle for Sheela, who was awarded a certificate of commendation for her bravery by the Chandigarh Administration on Independence Day, with her children describing her as their strength and pride.