Panama 2017: Update on Minga

Minga has now completed a month of dialysis. She is still living with her daughter Ita during most of the week, and getting to a 10pm dialysis appointment on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights. Her extended family tries to get her home from Sunday morning until Tuesday afternoon, when she has to be back in the city for that night’s dialysis. She is managing all these changes, because she is not yet done with life.

I reached out to a number of friends who are in my age bracket, or close, to ask what they think of Minga’s shift from “I do not want dialysis” to “I will do what it takes because I want to stay alive” — what we think it says about our own carefully laid plans expressed in health care directives, instructions to our families, etc. I think we all agree that our best thought out intentions are subject to change when we are actually faced with potentially life-ending events.

Who knows what goes into having someone say “I”m ready to let life take its natural course … ready, if that moment has arrived, to die and be at peace about it. ” Clearly Minga has not reached that point. She is still fighting for those moments with her beloved family, which she is still able to enjoy. She’s still fighting to have the comfort of her home, the warmth of her own bed, to sit on her front porch and be greeted by neighbors walking by.  She is, she told me, fighting to stay alive to fulfill her promise: that she will be there when I return.

My trip this year is in mid-January, but I’m now attempting to arrange a few days in November when my focus can be just on Minga. That isn’t a reflection of her life taking  a turn for the worse, but the reality that I had two huge commitments in September that kept me here, and that October is equally difficult.

Balancing the needs of people I love is never easy. I love Minga, and will get to her side as soon as I can.

4 thoughts on “Panama 2017: Update on Minga

  1. Minga and I are the same age, but our lives and resources have been very different. I’m certainly not ready to die yet, if I can help it. Although I respected her earlier choices, I’m glad she is not done with life yet, and that you, her family, and the neighborhood will have more time with her. It will be special for you to have some “alone time” with her.

  2. for Phyllis: Yes, I think so. I really am aware how the differences between our lives and Minga’s have created a yawning gap in our health v. hers. She has had a much harder life, and in our 70’s, that difference is compelling.

  3. I think a lot about what they have to put up with in their health system. Most Americans would be screaming bloody murder if they had a 10 PM dialysis appointment 1 1/2 hours from home. The lack of choices would be very hard for me.

  4. for Phyllis: I think that’s right. Talked to Lily tonight, and she said Minga was seen by a psychologist as part of after care for dialysis patients. The psychologist told the family very strongly that Minga needs to be at home, not in the city, getting treatment. Duh. The family knows that. There just doesn’t seem any way for her to be in the village AND get dialysis. There doesn’t seem much coordination among the care team. Hardly matters what the psychologist says is the system can’t support the recommendation.

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