Eman Ahmed, once the world’s heaviest woman, is a changed person.
A week after Eman’s sister Shaimaa Selim made her disappointment, displeasure and anger at the course of treatment and the ‘rude’ behavior meted out to her sibling at Mumbai’s Saifee Hospital, Eman has become surly.
Speaking to My Medical Mantra, on Saturday, April 29, Sister Sheryl Koshy, the head nurse who has been in-charge of Eman’s care since the day she arrived at Saifee Hospital on February 11, said she felt terribly hurt.
Weeping quietly, Sister Koshy said, “In the last 80 days, I did not even visit my mother who is fighting cancer. We ensured Mona (Eman’s pet name) gets the best care possible. I had even asked my relatives and friends to pray for her wellbeing. It hurts that today our efforts are being questioned by Shaimaa. To be honest, Shaimaa has hardly been by Eman’s side.”
Eman is all set to be transferred to VPS Healthcare at Abu Dhabi in the next few days for her further treatment after Saifee Hospital refused to treat her in the wake of Shaimaa’s allegations. Read Shaimaa’s version here.
Apart from the nursing staff, the team of dieticians and physiotherapy staff, who have spent the maximum time with Eman, said they feel cheated by her sister’s allegations that Eman was not looked after and the staff was rude.
They say their ‘Emo’ (one of several pet names given by the staff to Eman) refuses to smile or greet them. “Every morning, despite her slurred speech, she used to wish us ‘good morning’. She used to shower us with flying kisses. She was such a happy person. But since the last 10 days, she looks at her sister (Shaimaa) for approval before she even acknowledges us. The smile has vanished from her face. We believe that it’s Shaimaa’s doing,” said Belinda, in-charge of the nursing team at Saifee Hospital.
Nurses say that while they have attended to many bariatric surgery patients and foreign nationals, Eman was special. It has been an uphill task and a testimony to the dedication and care of the nursing staff that Eman’s personal hygiene has improved substantially.
“The day she arrived, though she was very lively, she was in pain. She had multiple bed sores. She had fungal infections. She had cracks on her skin. It took us four hours to give her bath as she didn’t seem to have had one in many months. She had never brushed her teeth in the last 25 years,” said Koshy.
Belinda added that the nurses feel a sense of satisfaction and achievement at the marked improvement in Eman’s health. “When she arrived at our hospital she could only move her neck a little and her left hand. Today, she can sit on her own with support. Her right side is paralysed because of her stroke history, but she can move her right hand a little and her left hand movement is now much better,” said Belinda.
Apart from physical health, there was the huge problem with Eman’s diet. Dieticians assigned to Eman described the tough time they had in prescribing her diet. “Eman loved food. On her first day here, she had at least four chicken-cheese club sandwiches. She loves chicken and custard. It was tough for us also because she was allergic to many things like cow and goat milk, and egg. We tried vegan protein supplements that were low on sodium. Since she had difficulty in swallowing after her stroke, a feeding tube was inserted. It was a challenge for us to help her lose weight and we are glad that we overcame all the challenges,” said Carlyne Remedios, the dietician.
The other team, which met Eman every day were the physiotherapists. “Eman, who had actively participated and was enthusiastic about her physiotherapy sessions, has turned passive and indifferent now. We had two-hour sessions twice a day. We are happy to see her improvement, but sad that the smile is now missing from her face. We still wish the best for her. We still continue to treat her till the time she is with us,” said Dr Swati Sanghvi, physiotherapist.
When asked about the claims of making Eman walk by VPS Healthcare in Abu Dhabi where Eman will be shifted soon, Sanghvi said one had to be practical. “She has been bedridden for 25 years. Her legs are deformed. We don’t even know her bone density. It may take years for her to walk. It sounds impractical as the right side of the body is paralysed due to her stroke history,” said Sanghvi.
Dr Sanghvi added that if anyone has been affected by the last week’s drama (Shaimaa’s video controversy), it is Eman.”She has been instructed by her sister not to smile at us. Eman looks at Shaimaa, the moment we ask her anything. This new attitude has affected her physiotherapy sessions as she is not that responsive anymore,” said Sanghvi.