Days after AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa’s demise, the doctors, nurses and paramedics at Chennai’s Apollo Hospitals narrated how she was sometimes funny, usually cooperative, and occasionally firm during her 75-day stay.
Times Of India, in its report, cited three nurses who took charge of Jayalalithaa’s care, who explained how she looked forward to visits by ‘King Kong’ – the name she fondly called them with.
“Several times, she would say, ‘You tell me what to do. I will do it’,” C V Sheela, one of the nurses was quoted by Times of India as saying.
“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.
Amma’s diet included her favourite upma, pongal or curd rice and potato curry, prepared by her cook. Of the three 16 nurses posted in three shifts, the ‘King Kong’ – Sheela, M V Renuka and Samundeeswari – were among her favourites.
Jayalalithaa was in severe discomfort when she was brought to the hospital on the night of September 22. But, four hours later, when her condition became stable, she woke up and asked for some sandwiches and coffee.
Dr R Senthil Kumar, senior consultant, who led a team of intensive care experts, explained how she would chat with duty doctors when she felt normal. She even gave tips to nurses 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.
While she did not like the Apollo’s coffee much, one day she asked nurses and doctors to pack 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.
However, there were occasions when she was firm. When UK-based Dr Richard Beale asked her to cooperate, telling her that in the hospital he was the boss, she gestured to him that ‘this state’ was her turf.
On November 22, when Amma won all three polls in Thanjavur, Arvakuruchi and Thiruparankundram, “she watched the news on Jaya TV and smiled”.
But on Sunday evening, when she was watching an old Tamil soap opera, a critical care unit expert visited her for routine inspection. She neither smiled nor talked and seemed breathless. By the time the doctor adjusted the ventilator, the monitors around her flat-lined as she had suffered a cardiac arrest.