by Gill Randall, Physiotherapist, Grad Dip Phys, Banbury, UK
I work as a physiotherapist in palliative care. Now, physiotherapy and palliative care are not always words that we might put together. I have often received perplexed looks when telling people where I work initially, and the response often comes with ‘how sad and dreary that must be’, but no, on the contrary, that is not true. However, I do understand their confusion. Physiotherapy is associated with healing, recovering, getting better, or rehabilitation. Palliative care can imply coming towards the end of life, giving up or giving in at the end of the journey. But I consider that we all have the opportunity to learn or to feel a difference in life, right until our last breath, and in the hospice environment, we aim to keep people as well as possible, even in the last days of life.
Life is the journey that we are all on to learn and to evolve. This isn’t a ladder going upwards, it’s often a reflection back for us to observe.
What we don’t learn in this lifetime, we will be shown again in the next one. What I have observed is that most palliative care patients are in a place of being very open to understanding this. As their present life is closing in, they are more willing to be aware of what they chose not to feel and see when they were well.
This is sometimes uncomfortable depending how they have lived, but sometimes there is an acceptance of their situation. They have often been on a rocky journey throughout their illness, have had a number of different treatments of radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy, been faced with lots of decisions, but also had many hopes and dreams raised and fallen.
No matter where we are or what our beliefs, the wake up call of a diagnosis of a life-limiting disease is going to stop most people in their tracks, to evaluate their lives and how they have been living. Some will feel passive and blame their genetics, bad luck, or feel guilt; others will be more open and philosophical about their situation. I have observed that many have an awareness that their past decisions may have affected this lifetime. For example, someone who has been a heavy smoker may be dying of lung cancer and become aware that their actions from the past have contributed to their illness. This awareness seems heightened at the end of life with all the emotions it may bring, sometimes regret, sadness or grief, sometimes frustration or anger that their lives have been curtailed and at other times, an acceptance of ‘it is what it is’.
As a physiotherapy practitioner, I bring my energy to support them physically, to aid their mobility, to assist the gentle movement of their limbs, to assess what walking aid they need, to encourage them on the parallel bars or up the stairs, and to keep them as well as can be.
As a person, I support the nurses and health care assistants, the doctors, the caterers, the gardeners and the administration staff as to how we can all look after ourselves. I am in a team of moving and handling trainers and in this mandatory annual training, we discuss how we can care for ourselves first and foremost and how this is our responsibility.
As a student of The Way of The Livingness, I bring my understanding of the bigger picture of life and death for everyone to feel how death is not the end of the road; we have many lifetimes and they are simply coming to the end of this lifetime in the cycle of lives and deaths. When someone receives a deep treatment of Esoteric Connective Tissue therapy with me, they may not have had a cure for their illness in this lifetime, but they have a choice to connect to something that they can feel is inside them, and receive a great healing if they choose to accept this. When they feel this to be true, they become very accepting of their present journey and can sometimes let go of a lot of their emotional reactions.
The energy of the hospice is one of support to the staff, the patients and their close family and friends who are also affected. These people have been supporting the person with cancer for many months or years and are often completely exhausted. They are usually very relieved that their loved one is out of the hubbub of the acute medical system and often feel the state of calm as they enter the door, but there is also sometimes a raised awareness that this may be the final move on the journey for their loved one and all the staff are very supportive of them.
I am greatly appreciative to my colleagues, working together in a multi-disciplinary team in a loving and lovely environment. And I am ever-grateful to Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine, for showing me the way to reconnect to the love that lives within me, and within us all, for the teachings on self-care that offered the steps to that love, for the wonderful healing modalities, in particular Esoteric Connective Tissue therapy, and for re-awakening me to the bigger picture of life and death, that allows me to work with dying people with such grace and joy.