Episode 15: Misbah


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In episode 15 of the Our Voices podcast, we hear the story of Misbah, a nurse from Pakistan who is adjusting to living in the UK while confronting the sadness and trauma of having lost her grandfather during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Misbah’s story is deeply connected to family.  Her greatest inspiration is her mother, who worked as an antenatal midwife.  Misbah describes being in awe of her mother’s “patience, hard work and passion”.  From watching her mother’s empathy and dedication to her work, Misbah learnt that nursing was the best profession for establishing a connection with others, allowing you to “put yourself in others’ shoes”.  There were times during Misbah’s childhood when she was confused by her mother’s calmness and selflessness, she would ask her why it was that she never seemed to lose her temper and how it was that she managed to behave so unselfishly.  Her mother responded: “life will teach you many lessons…when you help others, you help yourself.”

The patience that Misbah’s mother showed was something that Misbah struggled to replicate in relation to her grandfather.  Suffering from dementia and having a particularly poor memory, he would often repeat himself and make requests for food and water which had already been provided.  Misbah describes becoming irritated and angry with her grandfather’s behaviour and resenting having to deal with his incontinence, something she describes feeling extremely guilty about following his passing.  On the verge of tears, she describes losing her grandfather and not being able to attend his funeral as “breaking [her] into pieces”.  She is haunted by the moments she was not able to show the composure and kindness that his condition required.  For her now: “each and every patient…just reminds me of him.”

It is with his memory in her heart that Misbah now operates as a nurse.  During the 5 months she has been in the UK, she has noticed great changes in her attitude and outlook.  She describes feeling more empathy for her patients, particularly those with dementia, and no longer minding taking care of those patients who experience incontinence due to their conditions.  She communicates just wanting to make her patients happy and hoping that, in so doing, she will be able to make her grandfather happy too.

On working in the NHS, Misbah expresses pleasure at being in the UK: “it was my dream country…but I never thought I’d come here”.  She states that working in the NHS brings true dignity and significance to nursing and she is happy to have achieved her goal of coming here after experiencing a journey with so many ups and downs.

As the pain of her grandfather’s passing starts to subside, there is every chance that Misbah will be able to carry out her profession in honour of both him and her mother, the woman whose patience and empathy she witnessed as a child and who she has strived ever since to emulate.

Also, if you’re a medical professional who is looking to work in the UK, and you need to pass either IELTS or OET, go to www.swooshenglish.com .

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