Juntos Contra el Dolor, AC (United Against Pain) a palliative care non-profit in Guadalajara, Mexico produced its 2nd International Palliative Care Congress (II Congreso Internacional de Cuidados Paliativos) at Expo Guadalajara October 29, 30, and 31, 2015. Physicians, psychologists, social workers, tanologists, nurses, and hospice volunteers participated in a study of the theme, Health Crisis: A Threat or an Opportunity for Growth?
Juntos Contra el Dolor 2nd International Palliative Care Congress, Guadalajara, Mexico October 2015
Dr. Marcos Gomez Sancho, pioneer and thought leader in palliative care from Spain’s Canary Islands, was the main speaker. He spoke of the History of Death in Different Cultures, the Agony of Death vs. Dying in Peace, and, Advice for Family Caregivers in Terminal Situations. In addition to his own conclusions, he chose quotes from poetry, music, psychiatrists, and authors, as well as art work, to illustrate his main points:
the family must allow the ill person to make their departure
the experience of the person who is dying can help those who are witnessing their passing
the worst deaths are for those attached to machines (extreme personal pain, extreme financial costs)
the care team must be inter-disciplinary for best positive outcomes (attending to psycho-social, economic, physical, and spiritual needs of patients and families)
Dr. Marcos Gomez Sancho of the Canary Islands, Spain, thought leader in palliative care signing one of his books
Dr. Gomez played a tape of Greek singer Demis Roussos’ Morir al Lado de Mi Amor (To Die Beside My Love), which reiterates a common last wish. He also quoted Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud, “If you want life, prepare for death.”
Here below are You Tube links to Demis Roussos’ music in Spanish and French. (The Congress heard audio only, it did not view photos):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=193oMUtQzGE with Spanish sub-titles
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5pu-FheBAo woman admirer’s production with no sub-titles
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTBQm5RWUcw in French
Other compelling lectures included anesthesiologist Dr. Beatriz Angelica Flores Garcia’s controversial topic Morfina vs. Marihuana. She outlined how morphine and marijuana can be used for pain relief. No one on the panel of professionals, nor anyone from the audience, could agree about use of either or both, and/or effects.
Psychologist Ortencia Gutierrez Alvarez focused her talk about crisis in the family as it relates to decisions. Conclusion? Allow free will of the patient. Psychologist Fabiola Montoya Martin del Campo who has worked with youth with cancer for over 20 years shared stories of the bravery and wisdom of children facing crisis. Dr. Cristina Orendain, a well-known naturopath with a number of health food stores in Guadalajara, spoke about tryptophan for pain relief and as a mood enhancer in our food and in supplement form.
Juntos Contra El Dolor founder Dr. Silvia Susana Lua Nava, an expert in palliative care and a nun, was the guiding light behind the conference together with Sister Martina Zumaya Tamayo, a nurse nun with a specialty in bio-ethics. They offer an integrated model for Mexico including best possible professional care with support for both patient and family. They welcome persons of diverse socio-economic background, religion, age, and race at their hospital for care, counseling, or to arrange in-home services.
Hda. Madre Silvia Susana Lua Nava, MD
Dr. Lua offered her own account about suffering and pain as an opportunity for spiritual growth. In 2015 she experienced three invasive surgeries, one to correct a surgery gone wrong. From age 19 to 2015 she endured five other surgeries. The presentation of how she learned to confront and overcome pain and the unknown was both amusing and inspiring. Dr. Lua is also the author of a book about palliative care which shares her insights, El Enfermo: Terreno Sagrado (The Ill: Sacred Ground).
Dr. Manuel Centeno from OPD Hospital Civil Guadalajara (the new civic hospital Dr. Juan I. Menchaca) addressed the most frequent problems treating patients with cancer of the colon. Nurse Elisa Gutierrez Andrade spoke of placement and complications involved with surgically implanted PEG’s (percutaneous endoscopic gastronomy), stomach feeding tubes. In both instances, explicit photos were shown and the lessons about care were clear and convincing.
Maria de Jesus Gonzalez Romo spoke of home nursing care and a not unusual circumstance – attending to men who have two families – two “wives” and two sets of children all meeting at the man’s death bed. Gonzalez spoke of what the patient suffers physically, psychologically, and spiritually – and how survivors deal with the patient’s pain and their own. Lots of drama – anger, forgiveness, fighting – but also a lot of love.
Attendees earned 20 continuing education credits and a diploma from the Colegio Nacional de Cuidados Paliativos de Jalisco, www.comecupal.com.mx
A note about palliative care in Mexico:
The Ministry of Public Health instituted a law in 2009 that all citizens should have access to palliative care (pain relief and comfort for chronic diseases and at end-of-life). In October 2014 the Human Rights Watch conducted a study which showed the availability of palliative care is uneven and limited throughout the country. There are also politics associated with obtaining opiods. See article at http://www.ehospice.com/ArticleView/tabid/10686/ArticleId/13355/language/en-GB/Default.aspx
A note about Juntos:
As with most non-profits, Juntos Contra El Dolor relies on donors – pharmaceutical companies, the Catholic church (which provides the housing), volunteers, and others. Throughout the year Juntos hosts weekly educational activities in an effort to support its professionals and its expenses. Dr. Nava and two other nuns are unpaid. Funds for cleaning supplies, diapers, kitchen items, linens, gasoline for in-home visits, nursing staff, nursing supplies, and upgraded office equipment are always in need. Juntos is registered as an international non-profit and all donations are tax deductible by deposit to the Juntos Contra El Dolor account at ScotiaBank CTA 01002517167. More information is available at tel. (52)(33) 3617-2417, http://www.JuntosContraElDolor.com, or at email@example.com.
The web site for Dr. Marcos Gomez Sancho is http://www.mgomezsancho.com
November 4, 2015 at 4:10 pm
On June 7, 2015 I had the pleasure of speaking to the Cotacachi Health Chapters group at Gran Hotel Primitivo about End-of-Life Planning for Norte Americanos. (Cotacachi is a charming Andean city 2 1/2 hours from Quito).
My hosts were community organizer Caroline Goering – a true delight – and a team of other amazing, supportive people – Dan and Janda Grove, Mike and Linda Munhall, and Bill and Ann Henry. What to do in case of a health emergency, especially if you don’t speak Spanish, is their focus.
Caroline introduces Wendy Jane Carrel
Cotacachi Health Group
We discussed physicians, who to call and why, transportation, the importance of having end-of-life documents prepared, attorneys and notaries, cremation options, and disposition of remains to North America.
Fortunately, bi-lingual nurse practitioner Mary Grover, a former Peace Corps volunteer, can be of service to the estimated 200 expats in the area. I introduced Mary to those who had not met her.
A special thanks to CHC for the invitation. I was exhausted by the time I arrived, but content to meet a group that understands the importance of planning ahead, just in case, when living abroad.
October 11, 2015 at 4:14 am
In March, I published an article on the importance of End-of-Life Planning for North Americans and others who live overseas. Here is a link to the article in case you missed it.
There was quite a bit of response. Most responders asked for a seminar.
For those of you who missed announcements in Cuenca High Life, Gringo Post, and Gringo Tree the last few days, here below is the information for the event which will focus on three main subjects:
1. Why you need a physician ahead of time
2. Why you need a legal document (an Ecuadorian document if you reside in Ecuador) stating your end-of-life wishes
3. What the process is for cremation and why it is so difficult
Cuenca Chamber of Commerce Sponsors End-of-Life Planning Discussion Wednesday, May 6
Mark your calendars for 11:00 am Wednesday, May 6 for an important discussion on End-of-Life legal matters and cremation/burial options in Cuenca, Ecuador.
Senior care consultant Wendy Jane Carrel will moderate a panel with attorney Grace Velastegui and Camposanto Santa Ana Funeral and Cemetery General Director Simon Toral.
Presentations will be followed by a question and answer session to address your pressing concerns.
May 6, 2015 11:00 a.m.
Cuenca Chamber of Commerce 3rd floor (there is an elevator)
Federico Malo y 12 de Abril facing Parque de la Madre (view map)
☎ 07 284-2772 ext 233 attn: Gabriela Maldonado
Here below is a photo from the May 6 meeting, deemed a success by the Cuenca Chamber of Commerce. Almost 250 persons were in attendance. There are approximately 10,000 North Americans resident in Cuenca , Loja/Vilcabamba, and places in-between.
Director General Simon Toral, Attorney Grace Velastegui, Senior Care Consultant Wendy Jane Carrel, Chamber President Atty Jaime Moren
May 3, 2015 at 1:05 am
Here below is a link to an article I wrote that was posted on CuencaHighLife. It’s about the importance of creating an end-of-life plan if you live in Ecuador. The bigger message is that it is wise to have such a plan in place where ever you chose to live.
Ecuador, is ruled by civil law. North America and England are ruled by common law. Different systems, different procedures.
Why creating an end-of-life plan in Ecuador is a good idea for expats | CuencaHighLife.
Camposanto Santa Ana, a
cemetery in Cuenca, Ecuador
March 5, 2015 at 12:01 am