Panama November 2018: Having Lunch

I have to say that the thing I find most touching is the relationship between Minga and her eldest daughter, Ana. Minga is quite restricted in the amount and kind of food she can eat and liquids she can drink. Ana monitors her mother’s intake religiously, but gently. She said again that as long as it takes, she is there for Minga. For starters, that now means getting up at 3am to fix a hot breakfast, which Minga needs to counter the debilitating effects of dialysis, getting Minga ready to go to the dialysis unit, making breakfast for Miley before she goes to school and Raul before he goes to work, taking Minga to her appointment, staying in the corridor while Minga is receiving treatment, and starting her own day at around 10am when they return. Ana is a seamstress, and she has projects underway that are due for the people who have ordered them — often dressy gowns for a quinceaneros or other festive event. Plus Ana keeps up the house, shops, cooks, and does all the things women do here in Panama.

As long as it takes. Such loving words.

Lily, too, is extraordinarily kind to her grandmother. Because Lily is a pharmacist with knowledge of medications and medical terminology, she often accompanies Minga on her medical appointments. She sees to her grandmother’s medication regime, answers questions from the rest of the family, accompanies Minga to the dialysis suite when she is able — Lily has little flexibility in her work shifts even though she is the chief pharmacist — and procures things like the wheel chair and walker.

I’m also struck by the fact that although Minga never went to a restaurant until I started coming back to Panama ten years ago, she is perfectly comfortable. She doesn’t read the menu — she doesn’t read at all — but we describe the offerings and she says what she would like. One would think she’d been eating restaurant meals all her life. She is unfailingly gracious to the servers.

I find her well and healthier than I expected. She is thinner because of her restrictive diet. Her unexplained leg pain — high on her thigh, not in her calf as I thought — has subsided even though no one seems to know what it was or why the episodes happened. She’s had a ton of doctor referrals trying to figure it out, and while there is no clear answer for the leg pain, she’s gotten a clean bill of health in every other aspect.

For one year and counting in dialysis, I’d say she’s doing quite well.




Minga and I are discussing coloring our hair. Really.

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