A heart-wrenching story from Tripura
We concluded a 5-day home based palliative care training for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and multi-purpose worker (MPW) in Tripura last week. We, a project officer and three trainers – Dr. Vidya Viswanath from Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, Dr. Iqbal from Silchar, Assam and I travelled from Trivandrum, Kerala to train palliative care teams from all eight districts of Tripura.
Nurse Bishwajeet shared with us a heart wrenching story that describes the dire need of palliative care in our society. In one of the home visits, the palliative team reached the patient’s house and found her with a knife in her hand and blood oozing out of a wound on her breast where the fungating ulcer of the breast cancer was causing excruciating pain. The family had isolated her and she was trying to kill herself. With no pain relief, a fungating ulcer and maggot-infestation, killing herself seemed the only escape for her. At the age of 42, she had attempted to kill herself earlier also by jumping into the river but the villagers had saved her. Her family had isolated her from the household. She was put up in a room away from the main house with separate utensils for her food. With the isolation and deteriorating health, suicide becomes an obvious choice to a lot of our patients.
The district palliative care team removed almost 200 maggots from her wounds, provided medicines and counselled her. Then they took her to the RCC, Agartala and provided pain relief with morphine. After the treatment in RCC, she was able to walk around. The family had left the patient alone in the hospital. With the intervention of the palliative care team, they took her back.
Pallium India’s new initiative, partnering with Regional Cancer center of Agartala and the National Health Mission (NHM) of Tripura hopes to bring about a positive change for a lot of such people.
It is many years since we started working with RCC to establish the state’s first palliative care center and we are proud of this new state-wide initiative.