Smriti Rana, a Consulting Psychologist at Pallium India and Programme Director of Pallium India’s Children’s Palliative Care Project shares her inspiring experience with children she meets at the Thursday Children’s Palliative Care Clinic. One child in particular, suffering from chronic kidney disease, has won her heart with his amazing ability to rise above the unpleasant symptoms and often excruciating pain related to his condition. She writes…
What can I tell you about the Thursday Clinic that would adequately sum up the essence of what we witness and experience? Most people’s first reaction to the idea of a clinic for children with life-limiting and life-threatening illness is to recoil – either with the imagined pain, horror, denial and sadness that accompany such an idea, or with the belief that this is the realm of only certain “types” of people, who are “brave”, “courageous” and whatever other associated synonyms you can conjure.
The simple truth, though, is that the people who work at this clinic are not flapping around with halos or wings attached to them. These are everyday folk and by that token, feel everything from intense joy at small victories that are witnessed, to the darkest of despair at the helplessness in some situations.
What makes this space extraordinary, as you can guess, are the children.
The Children’s Palliative Care Clinic was set up in 2012 by Pallium India in collaboration with SAT Government Hospital at the latter’s premises in Trivandrum, Kerala, for 4 hours every Thursday. The vision was to reach out and provide free palliative care to children with a vast range of conditions – neurological disorders and impairments, metabolic diseases, auto-immune diseases, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, malignancies and congenital diseases.
Every week, children of all shapes, sizes and ages stream in, mainly from underprivileged families, most often with their mothers (many of whom are single, after having been abandoned by the husbands once a child with a birth defect is born), sometimes accompanied by both parents or a grandparent, and very often a sibling. The clinic oscillates between chaos and calm, depending on the children that week.
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