How Palliative Care Made One Woman ‘Whole Again’

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Ashla Rani
Ashla Rani

Joining Pallium India in 2014 gave Ashla Rani back her life.

Rani fell off a moving train and suffered a spinal cord injury that left her bed-bound and dependent on others for almost everything. She became depressed, asking herself, ‘Why bother to live’?

Finally, friends suggested Pallium India, an NGO through which palliative care is provided and advocated for.

“I was accepted into the fold, and moved to their headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram in 2014,” wrote Rani. “The impact my healthcare provider has had on my NCD journey is unbelievable; and nothing short of a fairy tale. I feel whole again, doing meaningful work, having a life purpose.”

Pallium India became Rani’s home. She said the team listened and treated her and her mother with empathy and care. They also focused not only on treatment but on wellbeing and quality of life.

“My medical needs were addressed on time, preventing secondary complications,” Rani wrote.

She eventually took up a role in the facility.

In her NCD Diary, Rani highlights other cases where Pallium India was able to help, such as a mother with type 1 diabetes who had a diabetic foot and was nearly blind. When she came to Pallium India, her sugar levels were out of control and she and her son were on the verge of starvation.

“We got her a diabetologist, who adjusted her medicines to maintain her sugar levels, which saved her limb from amputation,” Rani recalled. “She’s now able to walk with special footwear. We brought her to an eye hospital to receive surgery that allowed her to see her son after four years. With community support, she’s rented a house, where she lives with her son. He receives education support from Pallium India.”

Diverse challenges

Rani said that people living with noncommunicable diseases face diverse challenges and often do not receive adequate care. It is especially challenging in India, where rehabilitation facilities can be expensive or far away, so many people end up lying in their beds at home and dying of secondary complications.

“When there’s a person with some disability in a family, it’s not just that person who is suffering,” Rani added. “The family members around that person also suffer in different ways.”
She shared her calls to action:

Meaningfully involve people with disabilities in the NCD response in India and globally, ensuring equal representation in discussions and decisions.

Create interdisciplinary teams at the community healthcare level to prevent and manage NCDs, including trained staff to counsel and encourage people living with NCDs to live their lives to the fullest and not hide in private spaces.
Create support groups for each NCD as despite many shared priorities, different types have specific needs and issues to be addressed.

Establish rehab centers and home-based care for NCDs. This should include home-based palliative care for mobility-challenged people living with NCDs.

Read Ashla Rani full story.
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Image Credits: Courtesy of NCD Alliance.

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