After my long years of practice in the
field of critical care medicine (since 1993) and disturbed at the state of
lonely, painful and undignified deaths that patients face, I embraced
palliative medicine in 2006.....working closely with the dying and their
families made me reflect upon the unknown facet of spirituality and its close
associate, religion. I practice mostly in situations that people frown
upon....marginalized population in rural and tribal settings in some of the
most backward regions of India.....though I did have my share of working with
all luxuries, including ready access to morphine.....Let me make one thing very
clear....morphine alone cannot cure pain....so even if morphine is available,
the scenario in which I am working will not change much! I had recently
volunteered to work in a hospice in Rishikesh where morphine was freely
available and I did not feel that it made much of a difference. The question to
those of you (privileged ones) who work with morphine is “Can you work without
morphine”.....and THAT is the challenge.
Addressing SPIRITUAL and RELIGIOUS
issues is the key! That is what I have learnt from ground
zero...repeatedly...without fail....medications do have a role no doubt, but
small in comparison.
This tempted a strong atheist like me
to take a peek into religion and I completed a course on Vedanta, which is the
backbone of Hinduism.....and then into Buddhism....compassion....and I am still
on the path....its bliss for sure....and there has been no looking back....
I even brought out a small handbook on
'Spiritual issues in the last days of life....a perspective of Sanatan Dharma' ,
which I have incorporated here.
Tat tvam asi.
Kanti Dam passed his MBBS with honors from R.G.Kar Medical college, Kolkata in
1990, MD in Anesthesiology from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New
Delhi in 1995, Fellowship in Palliative Medicine from Poland and Calicut,
India, Fellowship in Interventional pain management, and Masters in Palliative
Medicine from Cardiff University. He has also done a course in advanced
Vedanta, Care of the Elderly and Contemplative practice in end of life. He has
extensive experience in the fields of Anesthesiology, Critical care medicine,
Pain medicine and Palliative medicine. He is a National faculty of the Indian
Association of Palliative Care. He has been associated with KOSISH which is a
NGO providing palliative & supportive services in Jharkhand, Bihar &
West Bengal. His current passion is developing a Long term care facility for
the Elderly and terminally ill providing holistic care, which is nearing
completion. He lives in Bokaro Steel City, India.