#73. Surprises, Leo Panitch, and an African violet.

This will be a short pre-Christmas post, just to cheer you up a bit. The first part is a short comment on Leo Panitch, a Canadian scholar and academic most of you will never have heard of who died recently of Covid-19. The second part is a short update on my situation which keeps throwing up unwelcome surprises for us.

Leo Panitch (1945-2020)

Panitch was a Jewish kid from Winnipeg. I was a French Canadian kid from British Columbia (?), but we both were from working class families. Leo Panitch joined a panoply of incipient Marxist and leftist social scientists, many American, some draft-dodgers, who began to populate the halls of Canadian universities in the late 1960s, throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s. He was one of the more thoughtful and moderate among them. He was a political economist, political scientist, and sociologist who wrote tons of books and articles on Marxist science relating to global economic development. I had a great deal of respect for his work. I ran into him a couple of times at conferences but we weren’t buddies or anything like that.

He died on Saturday, December 19th, 2020 of Covid-19. Just a short time before his death, he had contracted pneumonia, and even a bit earlier than that he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He must have been in a highly weakened state when he succumbed to Covid-19. I have no idea how long he had myeloma before he finally got a diagnosis but that disease has a way of smacking one down, keeping one weak and off balance. It’s a disease that is not easy to detect and its symptoms mimic the symptoms of many other conditions. I have no idea how long I had had myeloma before getting a diagnosis but that’s just about how I felt in December last year as I embarked on months of chemotherapy.

Panitch and I had some things in common. Certainly, we had multiple myeloma in common. We were both scholars but he worked mainly in universities whereas I worked in colleges. We shared an intellectual tradition of critical inquiry into the rise of global capitalism. He wrote a great deal, works that I was able to use in my teaching. I got involved in television based teaching and published very little that could be considered scholarship. I focussed on teaching as he did. His eulogies note that his work as a teacher was his most satisfying. His students certainly considered him a great teacher. He will be sorely missed.

Me and Myeloma Now

A few days ago, maybe 10, I was sitting in my chair when I noticed my lower left jaw was hurting a bit. One of my teeth seemed a bit wobbly and weak. It was nothing much. It remained like that for a few days, but as it got closer to the weekend and the pain seemed to increase slightly I figured I had better try to get in to see my dentist. I didn’t want to be chasing after a dentist this week or next week either.

So, my dentist is a great guy. He’s been the family dentist for over thirty years. We know each other very well. After I had been diagnosed with myeloma last year my oncologist said I should make sure to get checked up by my dentist, so I did. He was very upset with the diagnosis and was super attentive. I didn’t hesitate to contact him last week so that if I needed a tooth extracted that could happen before the holidays.

I contacted his office on Thursday. By Friday afternoon, he had arranged for me to get a special imaging session set up at a local dental surgeon’s office. With that, I then had a consultation with my dentist himself on Friday afternoon. Using the x-ray images he determined that I had a tooth that was dead and a cyst just below it. Both would have to come out. At the same time, though, anticipating an extraction and possible problems with the cyst, he was able to call in some favours and got me into an office of dental surgery in Parksville sometime on Monday (yesterday). We got a call from Parksville on Monday morning asking if we could be there by 11:45. Yes, of course we could…even in the snow!

We just made it for 11:45, Carolyn driving carefully in the snow and slush as we passed four or five cars in the ditch. Turns out, this doctor in Parksville is a real star and was familiar with multiple myeloma. After talking for some time and going over my symptoms, especially the numbness in my jaw, and the location of the pain, we determined that the dark spot (typical of myeloma lesions) on the x-ray we had taken the day before was in all likelihood a myeloma lesion and had nothing to do with my teeth. Well, that changes everything, doesn’t it? I wasn’t expecting that.

I was expecting to go down there and come back with one less tooth. That was not to be. Instead, this doctor arranged to contact my oncologist in Victoria so that they could together decide what to do, if anything. I get blood tests on January 5th, and I have an appointment with my oncologist on January 22nd.

At this point I have no idea what to think. I should know in a month whether the myeloma has retuned or not. If not, that would be great! If it has returned, then we decide on a new course of chemotherapy. Not something I look forward to.

Whatever! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or any other greeting you may like!

We have high hopes for 2021. We need this virus to get lost but we don’t want to go back to things as they were. What do you want to keep from the past and what would you like to unload?

I love this little African violet we have in the bathroom. As you can see most of the flowers have died off quite some time ago. The plant was bare for a while. Then, all of a sudden, this flower emerges and it’s still blooming its head off. I like that. It’s been recently joined by another blossom! So cool.

Merry African Christmas!

12 thoughts on “#73. Surprises, Leo Panitch, and an African violet.

  1. nice to have a post from you Roger. Always more questions than answers. Hopefully your toothy issue gets resolved. Most of us have issues with out teeth at our age. I could tell you a story from the near past….. but it’s boring….. but it’s a pricey tale. Dental should be covered with medical. Makes no sense for it not to be. Also. African Violets are interesting little plants. best to never give up on them if there is any hope of recovery.


    1. You are so right about dental care being included in medical coverage. We have extended medical coverage that covers a percentage of dental work. It covered 100% before we retired. Now it covers various percentages depending on the procedure.
      Anyways, have a great holiday season, Ed.


  2. Roger, you are an incredible person and I am honoured to be a recipient of your posts and musings. I enjoyed our time printmaking in the studio.
    All the very best possible to you and Carolyn as we head back into the light,

    Sent from my iPad


    1. Thank you so much, Susan. We did have a good time in the studio, didn’t we? I have no idea what 2021 will bring, but I’m hoping for the best. I’ll know in January how my myeloma is doing.
      Are you still using the NIC studios? They are such a resource.
      Wishing you the best too. Next year HAS TO BE better than this year.
      All the best,


  3. Hi Roger, Thank you for your letter. I think of you and Caroline often.

    I hope you both have a lovely Holiday season.

    May 2021 be filled with Love, Peace and ease.

    Big Hugs to you both, Lisa xo

    The Creative Source is Infinite

    Lisa M Kirk Artist & Facilitator Pure Process~ The Art of Creativity http://www.LisaKirk.ca 250-334-2567

    I dwell in possibility. ~Emily Dickinson

    On Tue, Dec 22, 2020 at 6:47 PM Roger Albert – Always a Sociologist: Now Living With Myeloma wrote:

    > Roger JG Albert posted: ” This will be a short pre-Christmas post, just to > cheer you up a bit. The first part is a short comment on Leo Panitch, a > Canadian scholar and academic most of you will never have heard of who died > recently of Covid-19. The second part is a short update o” >


    1. Hi Lisa. Thank you so much for your comment. It’s taken some time to get back to you, but my life is so full of contradictions right know, I’m happy when I remember anything. Thankfully, I’m back to walking again, at least short distances. I was down to Millard Creek this morning. The creek is running quite gently. I tried to concentrate on my breath and on relaxing my leg muscles. So far, so good. One thing I’m very sad about is that I haven’t found my way back to drawing yet. That’s partly because of neck pain and partly because of ennui. I can sense things turning around.
      I hope you and your family are good. We are all living through such tumultuous times. I find my bed is my best buddy right now! At least it’s quiet in there!
      Take care, Lisa. I so enjoy your paintings. Love,

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good luck with your jaw, hope it can be treated quickly. Xmas alone or not this year is a joy to be here and I feel so blessed. Being French, Xmas day is today for me, so happy Xmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My jaw! I’m finally getting a consult with my oncologist this week. We’ll see what he says. It strikes me that the medical people often fail to empathize with us, cancer patients. They have all the time in the world. We, not so much.
      Thank you so much for your comments and your sentiments. Please stay in touch.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Best of luck to you with the oncology consult. My heart is with you and Carolyn.

    And, of course, congratulations on that stubborn African violet.

    Looking forward to ‘seeing’ you both upon my return from the snowy northern wastes.


    Liked by 1 person

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