A glimpse into the world of pain and hope: Ravi’s Story

Categories: Care and People & Places.

The hustle and bustle of our daily lives makes us often forget about the silent struggles that people around us face. One such story that left an indelible mark in my heart is that of Ravi’s.

Ravi is a 38-year-old man who is battling fourth stage lymphoma. His journey to me is a poignant reminder of the power of compassion and the resilience of the human spirit.

Ravi is a soulful volunteer and an auto driver, who led a simple yet beautiful life which he shared with his loving wife and two children. Mahesh (name changed), is Ravi’s friend and neighbour.

One fateful night, Ravi began experiencing excruciating pain which landed him in the local government hospital. His admission set the stage for a series of events that changed his life forever.

I vividly remember visiting Ravi in the hospital, as requested by Mahesh While.  I expected Ravi to be pain, what I actually encountered at the hospital was a scene of despair. Ravi was confined to a wheelchair and had tears streaming down his face. Beside him was his devoted wife who shared his anguish. I observed that he was in unbearable pain, as it was evident that something was wrong.

As I began talking to him, Ravi shared that his stomach pain was unbearable, and that he hadn’t yet received proper medical attention. To my horror, his wife repeated to me, the chilling words a doctor had just told them. I understand that the doctor had told them “I will prescribe medicines for the pain, but your husband has only a month and a half to live”. The pain medication prescribed, T. Morphine, hinted the gravity of Ravi’s condition.

My shock switched to concern as I learned about Ravi’s struggle with bowel movements. I learnt that Ravi was enduring constipation without relief, for a month now. I also noticed that in addition to prescribing the pain medication, the doctor had handed Ravi’s wife a Dulcolax suppository and had instructed her to administer it rectally, without providing any guidance or gloves. It was evident that the junior nurse too only followed the doctor’s instructions, leaving Ravi in agony.

Without even a hint of hesitation, I took matters into my own hands. I took Ravi’s consent and gathered the gloves, some newspaper, and jelly (Lignocaine) and initiated the Per Rectum Evacuation (PRI). As I began evacuating his bowels, Ravi began experiencing relief and was able to finally pass stools. His relief was palpable.

Once done, I left to purchase the prescribed tablets, and couldn’t help but fear what I might find upon my return. When I returned half an hour later, my heart sank when I saw Ravi lying motionless with his eyes closed. His wife was in tears, fearing the worst. After consoling her, we left the room, hopeful yet uncertain.

Today, five years later, Ravi has defied the doctor’s grim prognosis and has resumed his role as an auto driver to support his family. Ravi’s story to me serves as a powerful testament to the unpredictability of life and the resilience of the human spirit.

The image of a helpless Ravi in a wheelchair, with his wife by his side, remains etched in my memory. It serves as a painful reminder of how many patients like Ravi might be unprivileged as they are forced to endure suffering in silence due to a lack of access to resources and support. Ravi’s story demonstrates to us how the compassion of a stranger can be a glimmer of hope even in the darkest of moments and change the course of one’s life.

As we navigate our own lives, let us remember Ravi’s journey of pain, perseverance, and the enduring power of human kindness. I hope that it inspires us to extend a helping hand to those in need and reminds us to cherish our precious moments.

About the Author:

Ms Subadra O is a a home care nurse from Chennai and have cared for patients with palliative care needs for over 10 years now.





Note: This article is a republication from the December edition of the Indian Association of Palliative Care‘s free monthly e-newsletter.

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