Skip to main content

Posts

Afterlife

Spring. Bulbs and buds burst into flower. Things come back to life.
Ayya's namesake Anne was born in Spring, in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 25th (also known as Lady Day, or the Annunciation), the day when people in Medieval Europe thought the world began.


What threads connect Anne to Ayya? What affinities, beyond a name, and a fraction of shared genetic material?
As a young woman, Anne lived in Africa for five years. She had just married a Frenchman, Jean-Paul, and accompanied him to Cameroon, where he was to work as a teacher in lieu of military service. She was a new mother at the time (she carried my cousin Miriam with her), and it was there that she gave birth to her second child, Eric.
One of my favourite works of anthropology is a study of infancy in West Africa. Among the Beng of Cote d’Ivoire, children are understood to come from the Afterlife. In their way of thinking, people’s spirits enter a sort of limbo when they die. When babies are born, they gain passage back into l…
Recent posts

Cataract / VI

At about 4 o’clock this afternoon, Asa came around after being under anaesthetic for a cataract operation. It was the first time he’d had surgery – indeed, anything but routine eye exams – for more than a year.
Selam and I felt more anxious than we’d expected to be about this operation. It brought back memories of difficult times. Times – there had been dozens of them – when we waited, with a mixture of fear and hope, for news of how the procedure had gone. There had been a few times when we’d felt we we were close to losing him – like that time when he was on second-line chemo, and I was in Congo, and Selam told me over the phone that his Hickman line was infected. Or that time, during the third course of chemotherapy, when he went into anaphylactic shock.
Compared to those occasions, this cataract operation was low-risk. And, thank goodness, it went smoothly.
As Asa gradually regained consciousness, he put his fingers to the plastic shield taped over his right eye to protect it. Sela…

Rebirth

Six years ago, I wrote the first post on this blog, in anticipation of the arrival of our son, Asa.
In addition to the excitement of impending fatherhood, I was inspired by two members of my family who’d blogged.
Seth, a cousin, had written a blog about his son Tofu. When Seth died midway through Tofu’s second year of life, the blog became a sort of message in a bottle, a testament of his love for his child. 

The other inspiration was my aunt Anne. Her blog helped her friends and family – spread quite widely across the world – stay informed about her battle with cancer.
This month we welcomed into our family a baby girl, whom we’ve named after Anne.


At birth baby Anne weighed in at just over 3 kilos (6 lb, 7 oz). She's a small package. But she changes the balance of our family, shifts the fulcrum. From being two adults and a child (adults holding the majority), we now have equal representation from children.
Asa and I, as males, are preparing ourselves for the impacts of a second fem…

Trains

Maybe it's all the to-and-fro'ing we've done on the trains between London and Birmingham for his eye exams, or maybe it's due to some kind of innate fascination with large moving things, but Asa loves trains.







I post these drawings of his partly to cheer myself up. It's been a pretty rough week, watching the US elect a con man as President.

Asa is an American citizen, and in 13 years time he'll be eligible to vote. I'm grateful that he's healthy, and that he stands an excellent chance of living a full life. But I worry about the world that he and his generation will inherit.

Let us pray for wisdom in our leaders, and for strength and resolve for those who resist them in the cause of the greater good.


Further update

Last week Asa’s medical exam again yielded an all-clear: No tumour activity; no treatment needed.

That’s the second time in a row.




















In other news: Asa has now lost two of his baby teeth (and is 40-pence richer).













We are kicking back and listening to some music...*

















* This link takes you to a list of tunes we're listening to at the moment -- on Jed's blog.

Update

At Asa's medical exam last Friday, the doctor told us he'd had a good hard look, and could see no tumour activity in either eye.

In these past four years, it's rare that we've gotten such good news as this.

By way of celebration, we're sharing some drawings and paintings Asa's produced recently.






Asa has another medical exam in six weeks time.

Hopes and fears

We’ve been enjoying a good spell these past 9 months. Asa has continued to have exams under anaesthetic every 3 to 5 weeks, but after most of them we’ve gone home feeling reassured and encouraged. Asa's nearly five now, and for a long time we held out hope that five was a magic number: the age at which the retina stops growing; and for most children with retinoblastoma, the risk of new tumour growth declines to insignificance.
In the first week of the new year, however, the doctors noted an area of new tumour activity in Asa's right eye. They’ve had their eyes on this spot for some time, and since they’d already tried on multiple occasions to treat it with cryo and laser therapy, and since it’s a discrete lesion as opposed to a diffuse area of growth, they opted to use a radioactive plaque.
So yesterday Asa had a radioactive plaque inserted into his eye, for the second time.
The fact that he’s undergoing this treatment again (the first time was back in June) doesn’t mean the la…