Totally humbled. That’s how I felt this Monday morning. Reading, editing and publishing the story of Moses Byomuhangi after a weekend of partying and rock climbing has inspired me to be back in the office working for a palliative care organisation.
After a weekend of having a lot of fun I made my way back into the office of the African Palliative Care Association where I work. I was feeling a bit ‘Monday morning’ when I started to work on an article submitted by a recent graduate, Moses Byomuhangi.
I would really encourage you to read Moses’ story.
Reading his account was a really inspiring start to my week. It left me feeling not only humbled but also inspired to keep working for the roll out of palliative care. It reminded me just why it is so important to communicate palliative care to a wider audience: because no one should have to experience what Moses’ parents did and no 15 year old should have to watch their parents die in pain.
There was so much of Moses story that took my breath away. I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it would have been for Moses, at the age of just 15, to watch his parents die in pain.
At the age of 15 I was playing football and drinking cans of beer in the local park with mates. To this day I have not experienced such a level of responsibility that Moses experienced at the age of 15. I am not sure how I would cope with being the primary care giver if my parents fell ill. If I had that responsibility at 15, I am not sure if I would have coped at all.
This is, at least in part, because growing up in the UK I was sheltered from suffering. If someone was dying or in extreme pain I would (we would?) take it for granted that they would be prescribed strong pain killers. They would almost certainly go to hospital for medical attention.
As a result, the prospect of watching (let alone caring for) a loved one in their dying moments suffer excruciating pain simply does not occur. In the age old British adage, ‘it doesn’t bear thinking about’.
It is worth reflecting though quite how unusual this is though. It is thought that about 90% of those who are in need of palliative care around the world do not receive it. In fact Australia, Canada, New Zealand, US and parts of Europe account for over 90% of the global consumption of opioid analgesics (strong pain medications).
In short, Moses’ parent’s reality of dying in pain is the crushing, devastating and completely avoidable reality for the majority. My British experience of being sheltered from such suffering leaves me in the absolute global minority.
But it is not the suffering that Moses has experienced that left me feeling so humbled and inspired. It was the fact that he used this suffering as catalyst to work so incredibly hard to work towards such an admirable goal – the relieving of suffering of others.
I hope that I can take on just a little bit of Moses’s passion, dedication and spirit in my work.