What it truly means to be alive!

Nov  19  2015
This is a story of an exceptional young couple who were able to overcome one of life’s difficult challenges with courage and love.
Hamsa was a youn .....
This is a story of an exceptional young couple who were able to overcome one of life’s difficult challenges with courage and love.
Hamsa was a young man eager to experience the glory of life. Having just gotten married the year before to Jasmine, life seemed miraculous and wonderful. Unfortunately life had other plans in store; when on one fateful day in June 2001 he fell off a bridge and became a paraplegic.
Hamsa was until that day extremely conscious of his health and physique. A karate instructor by profession, he exercised regularly and was proud of how strong his body was. The accident resulted in paralysis of his legs and his lower body. The first few years saw him admitted into a number of private hospitals and he even had spinal surgery. He was constantly given false hope and doctors and nurses kept him optimistic just to keep the coffers flowing. It was only during a visit to the Physical Medicine Department (Kozhikode Medical College) when the truth was revealed. It at last dawned on them that this situation was going to be permanent. They understood the finality and realized that all their earlier attempts had been futile - he would forever be confined to the bed as a paraplegic.
It was tragic! Hamsa missed his carefree independent life and was appalled that his body did not want to get better. Whatever he tried, it just didn’t respond. Things at home too weren’t going as well as there were some financial problems and a little friction with a few family members. But mostly it was difficult for Hamsa to accept and deal with the reality of the situation. He could not understand why life was so unfair? He got moody and felt embittered, and even the comfort and sympathy shown by family and neighbors didn’t go down well. He was so desperate that he almost gave up.
It was in 2004 that they heard about Pain and Palliative Care Clinic (PPCS) from a local health center. Admissions for inpatient care at the Institute of Palliative Medicine (IPM) had only begun the year before and mostly dealt with malignancy issues. However on hearing their story, they were given admission right away and stayed there the first time for 15 days.
Those 15 days would be the turning point as it would change their lives forever. When I asked him whether the care was exceptional, he replied ‘good care can be bought anywhere’. It was much more at IPM. The love, compassion and kindness shown by doctors, nurses, volunteers and staff were simply incomparable. The work they did was always guided by their heart.
Hamsa and Jasmine went back energized and refreshed only to return three months later. The second visit helped Hamsa more as on doctors insistence, Hamsa attended a wedding at a neighbor’s house. Forced out of his shell he realized that he loved people and missed their friendship. This inspired him to continue to meet and talk to others. Hamsa and Jasmine kept returning to the IPM every 3 months. Each time they came, they felt more hopeful realizing that all was not lost & that life still had a lot to offer.
Hamsa assures me that the care and compassion shown at IPM has remained the same. “Everyone is as generous and loving as they were at the beginning”, he says. He feels indebted as they have helped him to appreciate life again. They consider IPM as their second home and view the doctors, nurses, staff and volunteers as their immediate family. Nowadays they are like any normal couple doing fun things like going out or watching movies.
There is no one at IPM who doesn’t know them or has not heard their story. They have now dedicated their lives to helping people deal with difficult situations by accepting change and keeping the faith.
Although Jasmine is able to provide all the care Hamsa needs, they still enjoy coming to the IPM every now and then. As the primary carer, the stay at the IPM definitely gives her some respite care but the real reason is because of the relationship they have formed over the years with everyone at IPM. ‘Are the people here like your family’? I asked. ‘Not like’ Jasmine corrected, ‘they are family! This is our second home and we are visiting our family’ she says.
As Hamsa and Jasmine narrate their true life story, I am amazed by the power of love and the ability to build success from life's misfortunes. I have from them also finally understood what it truly means to be alive!

Author: Anjali Cherian, Editor, Occasional Letters

Paying Tribute to APJ

Jul  28  2015
The great visionary passed away… we at Institute of Palliative Medicine Kozhikode, also got an opportunity to meet A P J Abdul Kalam 'the people's .....
The great visionary passed away… we at Institute of Palliative Medicine Kozhikode, also got an opportunity to meet A P J Abdul Kalam 'the people's president', and to hear his inspiring words.
During his busy schedule APJ accepted our invitation to launch a project ‘SREE’, a platform for Support, Rehabilitation, Education and Empowerment for the needy and hapless fellow beings, which was conceptualized jointly by Institute of Palliative Medicine, Community Volunteers and Student Volunteers in Palliative Care in Kozhikode, and Police Personnel. The project was launched by Kalam on 15th October 2009 in a function held at Government Medical College, Kozhikode.
Along with the nation, we express our deepest condolences over the sudden demise of the great leader.

“In Remembrance”

Jul  21  2015
Balakrishnan M.O.
(29-05-1935 - 21/6/2015)

Balakrishnan M.O or Balettan as he is fondly remembered by everyone at PPCS was a quiet and simple man .....
Balakrishnan M.O.
(29-05-1935 - 21/6/2015)

Balakrishnan M.O or Balettan as he is fondly remembered by everyone at PPCS was a quiet and simple man and a generous soul. Having joined PPCS as a volunteer after his retirement, Balettan’s work focused primarily on the process of rehabilitation for patients and their families. Under his guidance, a more organized approach to the rehabilitation activities was brought about which helped determine the patients’ needs leading to the formation of the Palliative Care Patients' Benefit Trust (PCPBT) in 1999. Balettan was one of the founder members of the Trust.
The PCPBT is our sister charity that was created to help rehabilitate patients and their families. The trust supports patients with a range of expenses from education aids, providing vocational training, food expenses and travel support and sometimes even with the cost of medicines. In the early days, PCPBT also supported patients and families living in far off places when organizations offering palliative care programs were fewer. Balettan along his colleagues at the Trust visited patients at these places to see how best they could help them. Described by Dr. Anil Kumar Paleri (Director – IPM) as the ‘face of all rehabilitation activities at PPCS for last many years’, Balettan worked tirelessly and passionately making changes to lives of the suffering people.
A committed worker, Balettan’s health unfortunately began to deteriorate and he could no longer be as active as he wanted to be. On Sunday, June 21st, 2015, he passed away while at his daughter’s house in Mysore. He is survived by his wife Indira, son Sanjay and daughter Supriya.
Balettan…….your hard work, dedication and compassion inspires us all! Your memory continues to be with every one of us and especially the patients and families whose lives you have touched.