The book was released in India by Sasi Tharoor MP. Currently Dr Rajgopal is In the US for book- reading
"The days or weeks prior to dying can be the time of healing and mending broken relationships--giving love and celebrating life with dignity. You and I will be voiceless when we find ourselves dying in ICU beds; we have to speak out now. It is not about "them"; it is about "us," says Padmashree Dr Rajagopal, founder of Pallium India .
Dr Rajagopal's book "Walking with the Weary, " revolutionized my ideas of life and death. It will teach the readers lessons in humanity, love and compassion, especially in health care. In his book, through a series of encounters with people who he has cared for and walked alongside, he tells us the story of his life and his calling.
I read Dr Rajagopal ' Walk with the Weary' at one go, as the book was simply 'unputdownable.' Holding his hand tightly, I walked along - my tired mind often faltered my steps. The result was good and bad. He, with that rare quality of equanimity, was able to heal my wounds of past experiences. Now, I am trying hard to forgive, if not forget, some cruel and unpardonable acts meted out to us - my husband, a stage 4 cancer patient and I, an ignorant, helpless woman, by some of my husband's treating physicians. Dr. Rajagopal opened my eyes to the importance of empathy, compassion and other noble qualities that make him a true physician, a superior being- a living 'God,' in my opinion. My God died along with my husband. But I still worship living Gods and Dr Rajagopal is no doubt on the top of that list.
Dr Rajagopal talks about his life on a two- acre farm in Muttacaud, a village on the outskirts of Trivandrum, with his Ammachi and Appooppan ( grandparents) . He developed the habit of reading books from a lending library where Bhagwan uncle (God Uncle) was the librarian. Impressed by the young voracious reader, Bhagwan relaxed the rule of one book a day to four books a day. Dr Rajagopal was also tremendously influenced by Gandhi's life and writings. I quote" I remember his words when I have to walk unknown paths. "Whenever you are in doubt or when the self becomes too much of you, apply the following test: Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man (woman)whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him.Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny?"
At the age of 17, Dr Rajagopal got admission to the Medical College . That was the first time a boy from that village was going to learn medicine . He describes his experiences in the Medical college as humiliating. From ragging and the amusing attendance roll call to the futile exercise of dissection of cadavers, he regretted the education he received. He laments that it did not provide the learners, knowledge of assessing pain and the ever so vital skill of pain management. Doctor went on to complete his Post- graduation in Anesthesiology at All India institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi .
As Dr Rajagopal was often haunted by the painful screams of his ailing cousin in his village, he was determined to further his knowledge in the management of pain. He showed a keen interest in the assessment and management of patients in pain, even outside the operation- theatre. He once wanted to relieve the excruciating ischemic pain of a patient who had developed a severe obstruction to a major blood vessel in his body . All other doctors had given up after conservative treatment . He wanted to insert an epidural catheter into the patient ,to administer pain medication . But he was denied permission to do so by his seniors. This incident reaffirmed his conviction that physicians had to learn to treat not only the disease but also the person. Throughout his book, he gives us examples of various such incidents.
In the book, Dr Rajagopal also speaks about his love and marriage to Dr. Chandrika. His marriage did not entail a pompous wedding, quite contrary to the norm. I have been a witness to many grand weddings and a vulgar display of wealth by doctor families in my hometown Kottayam. In his own words," It was a modest ceremony which had all the cheer of an average funeral.There was no wedding feast."
As Sreedevi Krishnan , a word for those who are reading the article .This is not just a book, it's like the Bible or the Quran . It gives answers to all your questions and solves many of your conscience- torturing past events .When you come to the last chapter, you will come across relevant questions that will haunt your mind. Why isn't Palliative care integrated into all healthcare settings, as recommended by the World Health Assembly in 2014; to relieve suffering alongside actual treatment of diseases? Is Palliative care not lucrative enough for the healthcare industry? Is it all about profit margins for the health insurance companies?
Please read the book and read it again and again . I, who, unabashedly admit, have read hundreds of books in this long span of my lifetime, recommend this book very strongly to each and everyone of you.