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As it turns out, not going to Uncle Bobby's funeral isn't going to be the drama I was dreading. The funeral is on a Wednesday, so unless I wanted to miss a week's work (and therefore a quarter of my monthly income), there was no way to do it. I'll be saying a rosary on Tuesday while they have his rosary service at Holy Cross, and I'll try to take a half day on Wednesday so I can go to the noon Mass at St. Matthew's here in DC and do a funeral pray-along. (My family is mainly Catholic - French, Irish, and Italian - so this is an act of solidarity with them.)

I actually had a conversation with my dad today. He's pretty down about losing his only older sibling, and is expressing it in angry terms, as he often does. He says he's lost four pounds this week, and with the way I was eating and sleeping on Wednesday and Thursday, I believe it. He and my little cousin A., who is going into her Senior year of high school and was really, really close to Bobby, are going to do the eulogies. I am proud of my cousin for being strong enough to make herself so vulnerable.

I am still very upset. We will miss him very, very much.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Uncle Bobby fell asleep in the Lord tonight at about 5:35. Thank you all for your prayers and kind messages. May his memory be eternal.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
For all of you who have been praying for Uncle Bobby - we just got word from his doctor that he is in multiple organ failure and will most likely die in about a week. It does not help at all to know that he is cancer-free.

That's your update, folks. I'm just sorry it wasn't better news.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Uncle Bobby is doing better, and on his way to feeling a lot better, too. From my point of view, there is this: I now realize that the chances of my uncle surviving leukemia are very, very slim. That may sound like a bad thing - and it is, in its way - but it's also a good thing. I was really, really shocked by the suddenness and severity of the revival of this cancer. It threw me for a real loop. That is not going to happen again. When he goes home (and it really looks like he may go home), we are all going to realize that there will probably be a lot more medical intervention coming. The focus is soon going to be keeping Bobby as lucid and comfortable as possible, for as long as possible.

And that's OK. It's almost good news, really.

Thank you all for your hugs, good wishes, and prayers. Please keep them going.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Today, I talked to Farba Sow (my Mauritanian brother) via Skype. He found me about a week ago on facebook, and we've been writing back and forth a lot since. Apparently, Mali ("book name" Mutar) misses me, and I miss her, too. We used to sit together every evening and discuss things before dinner: cooking, TV shows, words in English and Pulaar, and we taught each other songs and folktales. Farba and Idrissa were mostly away at school (the town had no high school), but home on many weekends and for the summer. Ceerno and Bebe were younger; Bebe (book name Jeri) was one of my students. Ceerno was a little young - he was still in elementary school. Mamadou, who died two years ago, was in Nouakchott being a young rogue. Aissata, who is now an English teacher, was in Nouakchott until she got pregnant with Jellia. It's encouraging to know that she's finished her studies even though she had a husband and kid. Marieme, our aunt, was unhappy with Aissata's pregnancy because she believed it would be the end of her studies and career aspirations. Fatimata is still married to a soldier and living in heaven-knows-where.

Mali has two kids now, a remarkable feat for someone whose husband lives hundreds of miles away and gets back to visit only every couple of years. As [livejournal.com profile] papertigers pointed out, it only takes a few minutes.

Sadly, one of my favorite kids died. Little Zakaria had such personality. Fate has made a clean sweep of that family. While I was living there, his mother died, followed by his tiny, sickly baby sister (my particular pet, only about six weeks old) and his grandfather - all within a few weeks of each other. His dad was despondent, and sat around the compound like so many clothes. The dullness behind his eyes was terrible to see. Now father and son are both gone, too, giving a little more credibility to the idea (voiced by my friend Miranda) that it was AIDS that killed the mother. There's no way of knowing for sure; there was no HIV testing to be had in the village, or even in Kaedi, and in general, when people die and you ask the question "What did so-and-so die of?", people look at you blankly and respond, "They were sick." Malaria? Influenza? Dehydration? Heart disease? Who knows?

Some things have changed, but most stay the same. Jeynaba Moussa and Kadja Silley are still at their regular posts. Their kids are well. Little Aissata must be eight or nine by now, and little Jeynaba as well.

The number of names is limited - I was also Jeynaba in the village, better than my Boghe name, which was a nickname (Boobo) rather than a proper name (their daughter in Nouakchott who was called Boobo was also - surprise! - Jeynaba).

I'm rambling on, but it's been an interesting day. Tonight, I'm going to call Uncle Bobby and talk to Aunt E. a little.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
My Aunt K., whom I bless for so many reasons, has sent me a true update on my uncle's status. Some excerpts from her email:

A. and I were by to see Bobby yesterday. He was up in dialysis (it is a 4 - 5 hour process every day at this point) and we stayed about 2 hours.

Here is what I learned from E.
(Uncle Bobby's wife)

He is most likely finishing chemo today. They test him every day for his platelet count. It has been very low, which means his blood isn't clotting and Tuesday night he had some bleeding.

He has been spiking fevers at night (anywhere from just over 100 to 103+) and that has been a concern but manageable.

Hopefully after the chemo is done his dialysis can be cut back to 3 - 4 times a week again.

I was able to pull up the Care Pages from my phone and share with E. all the comments. Bobby has not been able to really read anything, nor get on the computer. His first post was dictated to C.T. The second was written by
[my baby uncle]* at E.'s request. I told her that people said "he" sounded better and her reply was not what I wanted to hear.

Her actual words were "Oh no. It has to be pessimistic, not optimistic." As A. said, Aunt E. was saying "We hope for the best but brace for the worst." It isn't looking good, but no one is giving up.

Bobby was listening from time to time, but not participating at all ... and when he tried it was hard to understand him. C.
(my dad) and [my baby uncle] will both be visiting this weekend, and E. is not really going home except to change, eat and turn around and come right back.

That is where it is.


If you are praying folk, please pray for my uncle and my family. He is really quite young (in his early 50s) and all of this has been a shock, especially after his seeming recovery. Uncle Bobby is not a glamorous or exciting uncle, but a solid one, always ready to be the pillar of strength, the first person to show my aunts that they were appreciated even though they weren't boys, and the main reason I was always one of my elementary school's top earners in the annual jogathon. He is quiet, maybe sad, and very stable - the calm point in a stormy family. He and Uncle G. (who is in fact a cousin who was raised by my grandparents) are the only ones of my fifteen aunts and uncles on that side that I've never seen angry.

*my pet name for my youngest uncle, who was 15 when I was born
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
I love Freecycle. I love, love, love, love Freecycle. You don't have to haul your things out to the thrift store. You get to meet the people who need and want your old things. You get, really, the double pleasure of giving things away and having fewer things. It's wonderful.

We have been using Freecycle a lot lately, as we are moving on Thursday to a much smaller place.

It's Mothers' Day. Today after church, I brought Myra an azalea (actually two azaleas, one pink and one white) for us to plant. That way, two of our earliest-blooming spring plants will be hers and we'll have a nice show on the patio. I also brought bacon and biscuits and blood orange Italian soda, so we had a nice little brunch at home. We spent a good part of Mothers' Day at the Old Country Buffet in Gaithersburg because S., C., & Z. were there, along with a moderate portion of the V. family in general. Several were out-of-towners. It was a good time. Z. learned my name; we drove them home since their hotel is near where we live, and at the end of the night, I said, "You're going to go to bed with Mummy and Daddy now," and Z. replied, "And [livejournal.com profile] papertigers!" She started to doze against my shoulder and was quite reluctant to let her mother take her. I tried to steal her, but they're going to the hospital for S.'s radiation tomorrow, and C. needs to have her baby with her, understandably enough.

I did not call my mother, but this is only unusual in the sense that I am with [livejournal.com profile] papertigers (who always made me call my mother in years past). Before that, I never called my mother. My mother vocally scorns Mothers' Day as a commercial holiday designed to force people to spend money.

Overall, a nice break from the endless round of packing stuff up. Back to the salt mines tomorrow.

BACK.

Mar. 23rd, 2010 08:11 pm
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
I am back online at home, and am finding that, as usual, the world has managed to roll along without my spending every spare minute on the internet. It's a relief!

If anything much has happened to you in the past 3 weeks that I need to know about, please post it to comments... or post the link to your LJ.

My grandmother has broken her second hip. (She broke the first one in October.) What a year for the Grandma and Grandpa Snazzy! Grandpa had a birthday this month. It's strange to think of their being in their 80s. I always had the young, vital grandparents - but I guess I'm getting older, myself. When my mother was my age, I was 13 years old.

Otherwise, things are OK. I'm enjoying the prospect of fantasy baseball and really savoring Lent as it winds to its close. I need to look out for some volunteer opportunities and things to do with friends - I need to feel productive and build some self-confidence. Any recommendations of places I could volunteer would be appreciated... especially if I could work Monday afternoons or Saturdays.

Long Day

Jan. 16th, 2010 11:49 pm
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Mr. Miles)
I went to Aunt Rochelle's* funeral today. I didn't know her well, but it was pretty heartbreaking to see my family so badly hurt. She died quite young (cancer), and she was the first of Grandma Webster's children to die. The funeral service was Cathotist (Catholic service with Baptist preacher doing the eulogy and a Baptist choir singing a couple of songs). The oddest part was when they did the sign of peace (the priest says, "Let us offer each other a sign of peace") and I heard people behind me saying, "What do we do now?" Partly in reply, I said to one, "Peace of Christ," and hugged her. She went on to say, "Peace and grace," and hug the person behind her, which works well enough. (After that, she caught that what I had initially said was "Christ," though I think grace is also an awfully nice thing to wish someone.)

[livejournal.com profile] papertigers's brother S. came quite a long way by public transportation to give her some love and a massage. She had put away most of the Christmas ornaments. We finished undressing the tree and the house; it is all put away now.

Later, [livejournal.com profile] efbq and [livejournal.com profile] scooterbird and their younger daughter came over with games and cake and other amusements for the injured party. They bought us a few groceries and amused us over dinner and dessert, and for the remainder of the evening. They have just left. I was sternly admonished to look after [livejournal.com profile] papertigers. I'm glad there are so many other people who love her.

Tired now; [livejournal.com profile] papertigers has already gone to bed. Good night, all.



*of my DC family, not my birth family
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
After I wrote that last entry, I looked at myself in the mirror and realized what I have. I felt much, much better.

When I got home, I found all three of the items I bought with the amazon.com gift certificate I got for Christmas/Yule from [livejournal.com profile] melebeth. Hooray!

Miles adores his new food. I hope this means he's going to gain a little weight and the sores on his body will go away. It is really worrying.

Life is very good.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Happy new year, everyone.

I worked today. There were few students, but I hope the ones who were in class got a lot out of it, for all that.

I've been thinking about 2009 as a year ever since [livejournal.com profile] melebeth mentioned something about its not being so good.

She's right. I started the year with a sprained ankle that acted like a fractured ankle. There have been health problems for me and mine - everything from cancer to bad teeth. There have been emotional upheavals. There have been family upheavals. There was even a fire.

Still, I will say that some things have gone well. I've continued to learn just how valuable my friends and (extended) family are. I've learned, too, just how strong the support of my Family-of-Choice is. [livejournal.com profile] papertigers and I have drawn closer together, and (not coincidentally) I have grown a lot less emotionally dependent on her. I have been lucky in many ways. I still have blessings to count when anxiety tries to keep me awake.

Tomorrow, we will continue our Christmas celebrations with [livejournal.com profile] scooterbird and [livejournal.com profile] efbq's oldest, redheaded child. (Though I suppose, at 16, she is almost not a child anymore!)

Tonight, we have a clean house and Christmas carols on the stereo, good food, and cute cats. We are going to have a quiet and relaxed New Year's celebration with just the five of us (two humans, three cats). That is my favorite way to mark the change of the year. I feel good about this. May 2010 be a year of blessings and favors, joy and goodness for everyone who is reading this.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Partial victory is mine. We will have to lobby a bit more for total victory.

The $263.08 overpayment has been refunded to our bank account - but during the days of its absence, we have accrued late fees and overdraft fees, so they are still responsible for paying those back. I have to send a registered letter to my bank today to get them to refund those fees.

It pays to involve the lawyers at the Better Business Bureau. Seriously - this is the second time they have helped me substantially. *sigh* I woke up this morning almost in tears from stress and the agony of getting this done. Now I get to stress about how to find $500 for [livejournal.com profile] papertigers's teeth. I don't know why that feels more manageable than stressing over sorting the other out... but it does.

My gym had already requested an automatic payment be taken out. I asked them to give me documentation as to any late fees that I would accrue, should the payment not go through.

I hate the importance that money has in our lives. There is an amount of injustice involved that I can't stomach. I don't know what other system I would use; you can't replace something with nothing at all, unless you really want total collapse and catastrophe; but it seems to me that there must be a better way.

If I could, I'd add the word "somewhat" to my mood. At least I'm no longer on the point of tears. But the pain that [livejournal.com profile] papertigers is going through threatens to send me back to that point.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Just to make my day a little better... here's tonight's cancer update.

I called my Uncle Bobby tonight to see how he's doing. He's in the ER waiting for a blood transfusion. The doctors aren't sure why he isn't producing enough blood, but they don't like it.

Our friend S., whom we went to help in Florida, had a biopsy of a mass in his parietal lobe yesterday. It's a slow-growing tumor. He needs chemotherapy and radiation.

My cousin Mary also has cancer. She had a session of chemo last week.

In better news, Vince is slowly improving, and the doctors think they may be able to cut down his chemo regimen - he could be out a little early.

I hate cancer.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
I intended to update on Friday, and tell everyone all about the U2 concert last Tuesday. Instead, we had to drive to Florida at the last minute. I'm currently too exhausted to sleep. So the U2 concert update can be saved for later.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
It's almost midnight, and I shouldn't be sitting up worrying about not having health insurance and what happens if I get sick. But I am. My parents have made it pretty clear that they wouldn't help me for anything short of a coma... and they couldn't help me for something that big. They simply wouldn't be able to afford it. According to the New York Times, people without health insurance get a lower level of treatment at emergency rooms even in genuine emergencies, such as car accidents.

Yesterday's examiner complained that "Obamacare Will Break the Bank," but from where I'm sitting, the bank has been broken. As most doctors could tell you, health care in the United States is rationed based on ability to pay. Where is the moral outrage? It's just wrong that some people should be (quite literally) in mortal danger because they have no insurance while others are visiting their doctors and getting antibiotics for the common cold (which is viral, anyhow).

No, we most definitely do not want to follow the British model - the National Health is a total disaster. But who says we have to? There are other countries with more equitable health care systems that are not a total disaster. I lived in France, where everyone is covered by "Social Security" (which in most countries means public health care) and where you may, if you choose, purchase health insurance for any procedure not considered essential. It's a remarkably effectively administrated system. Doctors will come to your house if you have the flu. The very beggars on the street can walk into a doctor's office and receive everything from vaccinations to dialysis. For lesser problems, one generally goes to the local pharmacist, who is also qualified to diagnose and treat the most common minor ailments.

Come to think of it, I was sick on a trip to Brussels once, and the pharmacists were lovely to me and asked me all the right questions and gave me a suitable medication. They told me to come back and check in with them the next day, even... and I just had the usual travel ("I'm not used to this continent's weird viruses and I've been on an airplane for hours with no sleep") cold.

I should go to bed. I'm sure most of my anxiety over this is fueled by sleepiness.

Sleep?

Jul. 6th, 2009 09:53 pm
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
I am still tired, but not as tired or discouraged as I was last night. Napping helped. They messed up Denyce's biopsy, so she has to go in again. She's trying so hard to be herself - loving, kind, fun - but it's almost impossible for her with all the pain she's in. I'm going to try to bring her pie on Wednesday. Maybe it'll give her a few good moments.

This was a good weekend. [livejournal.com profile] dindin came over for dinner and a movie, always good fun and good company. We had a barbecue on Saturday, just us plus [livejournal.com profile] papertigers's brother and niece, and [livejournal.com profile] klaughingbrook and her two daughters, plus two of my nephews. The kids loved it and had a great time. The red wagon got a lot of use. The corn was really good. The homemade barbecue sauce is addictive. Afterwards, we went to Rockville for fireworks. The weather was perfect. Yesterday we went to a pool party in Dundalk. It was quieter than last year, mostly people I already know and like, so I felt less overwhelmed than last year - more relaxed. I had a better time. However, I was falling asleep on [livejournal.com profile] papertigers's arm by about seven, so we went home and saw [livejournal.com profile] singsomelyrical on the way. Her husband got some cake for me. I approve of him.

[livejournal.com profile] klaughingbrook says that the pie I made for July 4th was the highlight of her weekend. I can believe it; she spent most of the weekend helping Denyce and dealing with one schizophrenic and one bipolar relative, not to mention all the kids. I should make more pie. Pie for everyone!
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Overheard on the Metro:

Guy 1: ... Skeletor.

Guy 2: Dude, he's awful! He's like the next Jeffrey Dahmer.


This gave me a much-needed laugh today. [livejournal.com profile] klaughingbrook's mother, and my adoptive mother, is in the hospital with what they think is cancer. She had a bone marrow biopsy yesterday. I saw her today, and she was apparently much better... but to my eyes, red and exhausted and a bit out of it. She was also in a great deal of pain.

For those who would like to put out a prayer for her, it would be much appreciated. Her name is Denyce.

I hate cancer.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
I wish I could go to the festival. We've been talking about it in just this way for a couple of days now, in between watching Into the Woods and being entirely unmotivated. There will be no Pride festival for us this year, though. We don't have the money for gas, and [livejournal.com profile] papertigers has a terrible respiratory infection and thus no stamina for a long day at the festival. In between being disappointed, I am also somewhat amused that we are calling it that... and, for some reason, throwing our hands into the air.

We are making business cards for me. Not for the festival, but for a long conference I will be working for the next two days. I am going to hobnob with the hoi polloi, and hopefully get a job.

Busy

Jun. 3rd, 2009 12:36 pm
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Sorry I haven't been writing - it's been a heck of a time. In the past few weeks, among other things, two of my students have died (one committed suicide and was found by another of my students; the other died in a car accident while he was on vacation). Uncle Bob is going back into chemotherapy this week. I had kidney stones. I went to an interesting Africa Day event, but no one I met there has yet replied to my emails. I was invited to volunteer for another event that will take place in a couple of weeks, which includes a private party at the large local embassy of a rich country and former colonizer of Maryland which shall remain nameless.

Most interestingly for me, I have been working very hard on my genocide book. I am beginning to really formulate my questions and solidify my methodology. These are the less interesting brass tacks of the work, but they are the most important things to get just right. Now I am feeling a little more focused and confident, which is a good thing. More about this later (probably in a locked post).
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
I love this time of year. The cherry blossoms have gone; even the double ones are being replaced by leaves. The second round of magnolias is blooming. Best of all, some of the trees have been taken over by lilacs, which are now blooming. I love seeing that. The trees and their fresh young leaves... and the clusters of sweet-smelling flowers filling them.

We just got mail encouraging us to participate in fundraising marathons/half-marathons for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I'm really tempted to participate, and at the same time I know I'm probably not going to. For one thing, the one person who has always donated, and donated well, to these sorts of things when I've participated in them has been the very person I'd want to participate for, Uncle Bobby. I wish I knew how to feel better about this.

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