Cancer patients suffer the consequences of barriers to access opioids
He was barely 19 years old and had to drop out of college as a result of his cancer….he had enjoyed the bliss of being in denial for sometime but when reality came crashing down on him mercilessly, he called his life a ‘timeless life’.
Then one day his pain increased and crossed the boundaries of his tolerance and thus compounding his existing spiritual, psychological and social dimensions of pain….a state of ‘total pain’ and despair.
“I feel like screaming out loud and banging my head against the walls” he would tell me, “I feel that this human existence is worthless” and “sometimes I feel like committing suicide, consuming poison or jumping off a roof. His spiritual concerns also would surface “I keep thinking as to which (previous) birth’s ‘karma’ I am suffering and to why was I born in this world?”
Availability of oral morphine is still an unrealised dream in most parts of India and if you live in a village or a small town, then its better that you do not even dream of it! But our hospice could make oral morphine available to him in a ‘consistent and accessible’ manner and we could thus control his physical pain. Ongoing compassionate presence and empathy went a long way in attenuating his psychosocial and spiritual concerns. We were thus able to restore a sense of ‘meaning’ to his life although he still would keep saying “I miss my college and my friends…”
- First international opioid survey – An Indian perspective, Nagesh Simha
- First international opioid survey – An Indian perspective, Gouri Shankar Bhattacharyya
Abhijit Dam: kosishthehospice.webs.com