By Clara Presman
María did the treatment that the doctor prescribed to the letter from the first day. She had lost her hair and her appetite, but she never wanted to knit. He said that it was therapeutic and that this way he left booties for the grandchildren who would come. That day after hearing that there was nothing to be done, he put the needles away and did not use them again.
Palliative care is a multidisciplinary specialty dedicated to improving the quality of life of patients with serious illnesses and supporting their families. They specialize in medical care focused on the relief of pain and other symptoms of a disease. They are a form of active and comprehensive medical care, aimed at reducing physical, mental and spiritual suffering. People do not choose when or how to be born, but we can choose how to let go of what prevents our flight. The sense of dignity that we give to our last days will depend on the personal project and the possibilities of each one. Choosing how to die is our right. As is accessing a health service and palliative care assistance.
The premise in health is first of all to defend life. But the central thing is not how long we live, but how we live. Not only heal, but also caring and accompanying. Each year, approximately 40 million people around the world need palliative care, including 20 million children. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that less than 14% of those who need it receive them.
The idea that a patient receives palliative care usually refers to the fact that he is in his last days of illness, is erroneously associated with the “beginning of the end”. Contrary to this, research conducted by the American Society of Clinical Oncology in the United States maintains that participation in discussions about the patient's own disease and benefits when receiving palliative care helps them make different decisions about the types of health care they they want to receive. At the same time, they improve the quality of life for the patient and help alleviate grief for family members.
Various prejudices led to palliative care being administered late on many occasions, when disease-modifying interventions are no longer an option or the patient is no longer willing to do so. The WHO and other international organizations recommend that public and private institutions integrate early participation in palliative care together with therapies aimed at prolonging life.
In addition to this false conception, there is the idea that palliative care means an additional expense to the budget allocated to the health system, which in general is tight in most countries. On the contrary, it has been proven that the incorporation of this type of care reduces costs for health systems by avoiding unnecessary visits to the emergency services, excessive hospitalizations, pharmacy, laboratory and intensive care expenses.
More than just attending the end of life, palliative care teams provide support and support to help patients, physicians, and their families navigate painful moments and make the journey easier. Make Maria weave. Make so many others able to sing, dance, write or play soccer. Make living and dying worth the joy and not the pain.