One More of Us Died This Week

2011 August 4

Rahmath

Rahmath died a couple of days back at the age of 53.

It is a good rule not to have favorites among patients. We should give them all our unconditional love and unconditional respect, whether they are smiling or crying, perpetually thankful or perpetually complaining, cheerful or grumpy.

But it was difficult not to give a special place to Rahmath in our hearts. Few people lived with so many adversities in life – very difficult family situation, poverty, and a cruel, unrelenting autoimmune disease (systemic sclerosis) which gave her unbearable pain in all four limbs and elsewhere.

She smiled through it all. She had little to give, but gave plenty – in smiles, expressions of gratitude and always, always, prayers. She would travel 225 kilometers each way in a five hour train ride for every consultation, and we could expect her never-failing call the next morning to reassure us that she got back home by midnight, yes, thank you, she is pain-free now. And then she would name every single member of our team whom she met the previous day and convey her thanks. And she would repeat, she would pray for every one of us, “That is the only thing I can do for you”.

She taught us fortitude. She smiled through suffering that few of us could possibly have lived through. Yet, when the suffering would become overbearing, her eyes would fill, as when she described how her two grandchildren who lived in an orphanage begged to be brought home to their mother during the summer vacation. Eventually, with some slight help from us, she and her daughter-in- law overcame the unbelievable barriers and it was such a joyous occasion for her when the children could be re-united with their mother.

Our guest from USA, Mrs Sunshine Mugrabi wrote about her:

Her smile is a wide as her face, accompanied by a bright twinkle in her bright blue-gray eyes. Her cracked teeth are spaced far apart. When she smiles it looks as if her entire being is infused by some wellspring of private joy. Pain cannot touch it, and in this, she touches everyone around her.”

During the last few days of her life, her suffering became intense. Dr Hyder Ali, Dr Susan Jaya Koshy and the rest of the team at Anwar Palliative Care Unit at Aluva took good care of her. But on the final day of her life, she insisted on coming back to us in Trivandrum. She traveled those 225 kilometers again in an ambulance, breathless, blue in all four limbs, and with a pain score of 10 out of 10. We feel so privileged to feel that we could give her some pain relief and peace during those last few hours.

Goodbye Rahmath. You gave us a lot and taught us a lot. Rest in peace.

8 Responses
  1. dr koshy varghese permalink
    August 5, 2011

    Sad to know of Rahmaths departure.At the same time relieved that she is eternally pain free.She really had much more within her, that even the most adverse of circumstances could not take away.And of that inner peace and composure, she freely shared.In my 6 weeks stay in Tvm, I met her twice and the encounters are still etched in my memory.Her silence, her tears ,her smile and her gratitude – all were infective.I consider her also as one among the faculty who sensitised me to human sffring and showed me that the human spirit can rise above it all. Thank you Rahmat and may your soul rest in eternal peace.

  2. Sunshine Mugrabi permalink
    August 5, 2011

    Rahmath was one of the first patients I met while in Trivandrum, and as you know I was absolutely taken with her. Such a gentle, enduring spirit. I feel honored to have had a chance to meet someone so huge. She leaves ripples of goodness on this earth, I am sure of it. Thank you for writing this.

  3. Dr Sithara permalink
    August 7, 2011

    Who else in this whole world,other than Rahmath,can give a big smile and hug all of us lovingly when she has 10/10 pain in all her limbs?

  4. Dr Iqbal Bahar permalink
    September 1, 2011

    I was in TIPS 2 years back when I assisted Dr Rajagopal in carrying out stellate ganglion block for Rahamat intracatble vasospastic pain in upperlimbs.

    I remember the gravity of kindness and care given to that lady.

    This also reminds me of a 500 rupee note given to Rahamat (probably for travel) after her pain was relieved.

    Pain relief as well money gift – this combination is rare to be seen!

    Long live Pallium India!

  5. anjum permalink
    September 2, 2011

    i remember Rahmats big smile, at kochi and trivandrum.
    she used to express the reduction in VAS scores
    with her fingers to us non malayali doctors.

  6. Aneeja permalink
    September 8, 2011

    Eversince I joined Pallium India Rahmath used to be the first one to wish me on all the important festivals. This Onam is the first festival without her amongst us. I miss her phonecalls and her heart warming smiles.

    Rahmath will be sorely missed and always remembered.

  7. September 8, 2011

    Rahmath’s story does not end there!
    Sunitha, her daughter, called me the other day. She says she wants to do something for her mother’s memory. Something that will help others. She has nothing to give; so she wants to pledge her eyes and her organs on her death. She seeks our help to get this done!
    Do you know this feeling, when one feels so,so small and humbled? Words fail!

  8. October 1, 2011

    Dr Rajgopal– as always your comments are so on point — I really enjoy reading Pallium India’s monthly newsletter and am always impressed by your work — so glad I could meet you and see it first hand this summer. Congrats esp on the new clinic and the HP partnership. Claire

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