Panama 2018 Day 16: Good-Bye at Minga’s

To make the despedida a little easier for us, everyone who could do so gathered at Minga’s house — so our driver wouldn’t have to  navigate all around the village. Much to my surprise, the dispute over Minga staying in the city v. coming home to Rio Hato after her treatments erupted in full force. More on that later, when I have a chance to reflect. Minga got to say strongly what she wants for her life, with me standing there to support her. The difficulty is that her adult offspring feel that they are not ready for her to die, and so the decision about how she handles dialysis should be theirs. This is not an easy chasm to bridge, and would not be in any family anywhere in the world.

Minga asked if I am coming back soon. She said she needs something to look forward to.

I don’t honestly know how Minga is doing physically. Her spirits seem good, the dispute with her family notwithstanding. She seems even tinier to me than she used to be, as if she is shrinking. I have no access to her dialysis numbers. In November, she was receiving dialysis for three hours at a time, because four hours for a person of her size seemed to be too much. Now, she’s been on the machine for four hours and feels much weaker and dizzier when she gets out.  She doesn’t seem to know why the four hours, if the nephrologist’s order has changed or if the nurses are being careless in not winding her up before the others.

I hear that at times, out of frustration, Minga has said she’s not going to do this any more, or that she wants to rip the catheter out and be done – – although she’s never said that to me. But she hasn’t acted on those feelings, and she’s going to dialysis three times a week.

Sigue in la lucha. Continuing in the fight. It’s what she’s done all her life.

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