Panama 2017: Minga

As I think I’ve mentioned before on the blog, Minga has been dealing with declining kidney function for a couple of years. She’s been maintained on meds and a strict diet, which she’s tried heroically to follow. Salad and a small bit of protein, healthy though it may be, is a hard shift in eating pattern for someone who’s eaten rice and beans for her entire life, and who thinks salad is about as appetizing as a plate of grass.

Last Monday something happened to put her into a medical crisis. She had swelling of feet and hands, a puffy face, and difficulty breathing. Remember that there’s no 911 in Panama, no ambulance service. Her daughter Rufina called Lily, who called her Uncle Angel and asked him to drive out from the city to get Minga and bring her to the public hospital, Santo Tomas. She was admitted, and is in the equivalent of an ICU. On Thursday, the doctor in charge of her care said she needed dialysis, or death was imminent. Although she’s said to me in the past that she didn’t want dialysis, she apparently agreed and that happened on Saturday morning. The way forward is not clear, although it seems that  assuming she survives this episode, she’ll need dialysis to stay alive. How she gets that while living in the village is beyond complicated to sort out.

To respect the family’s privacy, I’m not going to give a lot of detail. But as a friend and regular reader noted in an email to me:

Though Minga’s economic and cultural circumstances are vastly different,  am struck by some similarities that plague every group faced with medical crises and end of life. Families knit together and fray apart.  Stated limits on medical interventions become negotiable. And siblings land in a stand off when it comes to who rearranges their life to deal with the follow on care....”
Yes indeed.
Minga is a person of deep faith. If you are, she would be grateful for your prayers. In any case, your good wishes and loving concern for her and her family will be a comfort to all of them. Minga has always been very proud to have friends in America, in person through visits to Panama and via the blog. She will be touched to know that you continue to care about her now.

8 thoughts on “Panama 2017: Minga

  1. Hi Aunt Pam,
    I hope Minga is able to make it through this crisis. When her time comes it will be a loss for all who know her. Please get word to her that we (Bryna, Mike, Becca, and Max) are all praying for her and we will lift her up in our congregation with the healing prayer. Hopefully the strength of prayer in number and her willingness to fight are enough for her to come out on the other side of this difficult battle. Please also let Minga know although we have only known her for a relatively short time we love her and she and her family are important to us. Love to you and both our Klainer West family and Panamanian family.

    As stated health crisis are very difficult not only on the person in crisis but also to the family members involved and that care falls on to deal with all of the appointments and new or adjusted home routine that must take place once getting there as well as the preparation of the home so the person with the health crisis is able to return home, wishing the best for the entire family.

  2. for Bryna: Lily was able to assure Minga of the love and prayers of all of us here, and she broke out in a big smile. Thank you for continuing to care about her. I know you know, from supporting Sheila through her various health crises, how hard this is on family members. Minga’s nine offspring are not in the same place yet, but they are working on it.

  3. for Katie: Thank you, and thanks again for the long phone call with the helpful, knowledgeable information. So much of the discharge planning is left to the family, who have to take the initiative to coordinate among geographically separate agencies in Panama City. I know how hard Lily and her aunts are working to come up with something viable. Now that Minga seems stable, the plan will have to be ready within a few days.

  4. Hi Pam

    We have been at our grandchild’s bar mitzvah with a gaggle of cousins. It was very life affirmingand such a contrast to what is happening with Minga. I am so sorry to hear about where dialysis will take her. I cannot believe she would choose that misery to extend her life

    We are all victims of the circumstances we live in

    Thinking of you and her love Linda


  5. for Linda: She was clear in the past about not wanting dialysis, but being face with imminent death seems to have changed things for her. It isn’t going to be easy to continue the dialysis. Will keep everyone updated on how it works.Glad you got to grandchild’s bar mitzvah — those are happy and proud events.

  6. por Mary: Todos estamos pensando en ustedes, y rezando por Minga. Yo te mande un mensaje por email? Lo vio?

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