JS Mill's First Letter

The following is John Stuart Mill's first letter, written when he was 6 years old.

To Jeremy Bentham

My dear Sir,

Mr. Walker is a very intimate friend of mine, who lives at No. 31 in Berkeley Square. I have engaged him, as he is soon coming here, first to go to your house, and get for me the 3.d and 4.th volumes of Hooke’s Roman history. But I am recapitulating the 1.st and 2.d volumes, having finished them all except a few pages of the 2.d. I will be glad if you will let him have the 3.d and 4.th volumes.

I am yours sincerely

John Stuart Mill.

Newington Green,
Tuesday 1812.

Deteriorating Mental Condition

My grandma has become less responsive in the past couple of days; I'm afraid that her mind is deteriorating. Sometimes when I talk to her now, she doesn't even look at my eyes. But sometimes she seems ok. Today when I went to visit her, she was barely acknowledging my presence, but by the time I left she was quite alert. So it seems like whatever is effecting her condition, it's effecting her on and off. Sadly, I don't know anything about the human brain and I don't have easy access to a neurologist, so all I can do is guess what's happening.

I'm preparing myself for my grandma's deteriorating mental condition, but it's really difficult.

Life in December

My life has been pretty routine since I've been back. I wake up everyday at 9 am and spend the next few hours in front of my laptop reading emails and watching the news. At around 12:30, I head over to the hospital where I eat lunch at the cafeteria, and after that I spend the rest of the afternoon sitting next to my grandma.

When I first go in the room I say hi and tell her that I'm here. She can see well enough to recognize that it's me, but I ask sometimes anyway just to check. I then put my stuff down and proceed with my massage routine. It's about this time when she wants to communicate with me, but since she's still dependent on the ventilator, I just try to guess what she's trying to say.

Her condition seems to be quite stable for now. The hospital is in the process of weaning her off of the machine and it's been going smoothly. However, even if she can regain her capacity to breathe, it's no guarantee that she can ever come home because she's suffering from other problems. I know I should be positive, but it's impossible for me to keep the sad thoughts out.

Tomorrow, the doctors are going to pull out the feeding tube from her nose and insert it directly into her stomach, which means another minor surgery.

On a completely different note, I've been studying for the GRE. I spend a few hours a day (at the hospital) mainly relearning math and doing the exercises. I've been having the most trouble with data analysis; I actually don't remember learning it before. Anyways, the last day I can take the test is in March, which means I only have a few months to prepare. I bought four GRE books in total, two specifically on math, and I plan to bring all of them back with me to York.

All Hope is Not Lost

They tried pulling my grandma off the machine yesterday, but it didn't work. She was fine for about 5 to 10 minutes, but then she started to get short on breath so they had to put the tube back in. Because she has failed to breathe on her own the past couple of weeks, the doctor recommends that she get a trach either today or tomorrow. I really wish we could have avoided this. Even though it's only a minor surgery, it's still risky because she's old.

On a positive note, the trach provides her with many advantages. For one, she'll be able to speak. Supposedly there's something called a one way valve which only allows air in. So being able to communicate with her would be a huge plus. Another advantage is she would be able to eat solid foods which means they can probably take out the other tube up her nose. Not having another tube means more comfort and more movement.

Knowing these advantages and keeping in mind that she can still recover makes me feel a bit better about the trach. I'm trying to keep myself positive.

Three More Days

I finally spoke with a doctor today and he told me the reason why my grandma is having trouble breathing is because of acid reflux. He says the acid damaged her lungs or something like that, and in turn is causing her lungs to be filled with fluid. I don't really understand why this happened, but at least I have a better idea of what's going on.

My grandma only has three more days before they put in a trach so she doesn't have much time to recover. We need to get her off that machine.

The nurses keep sedating her when none of us are there and I'm not sure why. My only guess is because that way she won't try to pull out the tubes, but this really bothers me. Even though I haven't done any research on this, something tells me that my grandma won't be able to recover as quickly if she's being sedated. Today when I went to see her, she was barely responding, and by the time I said goodbye, she wasn't responding at all.

We have to organize our shifts better to keep an eye on her. Also, I'm going to question their practices when I go there tomorrow.

Letter to Congresswoman Linda Sanchez

Dear Rep. Sanchez,

My name is Jason Chen and I am a graduate student studying political philosophy. I am writing to you today to urge you to support the OCCUPIED amendment that Ted Deutch introduced in the House.

The dominant influence of money in our political system is the root of many injustices. From this one corrupting force spawns a variety of legislation aimed to protect the benefits of the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and weak. The people should not tolerate such an injustice. The political influence of concentrated wealth must be restrained.

It is bad enough that some are born into disadvantaged situations. It is bad enough that some live painful lives resulting from no actions of their own. But it is at a completely different level of injustice to say that the poor, the hungry, the sick, the old and the disabled, on top of suffering from social and economic inequality, must also suffer from political inequality.

This is not what a just society looks like.

I sincerely hope that you participate in this uphill battle to bring power back to the people.

Jason Chen

No Change

There has been no change in my grandma's condition the past couple of days.

Yesterday, we took those huge mittens off of her hands to allow her to write, but she didn't want to for some reason; she just shook her head when I showed her the pencil and paper. Today, we had a bit more luck because she actually wanted to write, but her writing was so messy we couldn't really make it out. Here is a picture of one of her scribbles.

One sentence that we think she wrote is “I'm useless.”

My Unexpected Trip Home

In transit

I'm currently on my way back to Cerritos because my grandma is not doing well. She has had a cyst in her brain for many years now and it has caused her to suffer from dizziness which, in turn, has made it difficult for her to walk and read. Her condition, for the past few years, has been consistently getting worse, but recently the degradation has been accelerating. A few weeks ago before Thanksgiving, she stopped being able to cook, which is a big deal because she has always done the cooking in the house. This was the email that my mom sent me dated November 17th.

Jason: how are you? Grandmom missed you, she said why you have not call home for long time? I said may be you are busy, or you are fine no need to call us, Grandmom is not feeling good, Can’t walk without walker, She can’t cook and can’t do anything but she still can eat by herself and take shower by herself. Good thing is dad is home all the time, so he can take care of her and help to cook and take her to doctor or take her to park to walk. This year we are not going to Las Vegas on Thanksgiving Day we will stay home play ma jang (grandmom like it) hope everything going well with you.

I couldn't stop crying after I read this email. It made me feel really guilty for not calling home and it also made me angry because my grandma was fine before I left. Since Thanksgiving her condition has gotten even worse. A week ago her whole body was shaking after a fall off of her bed which resulted in her being hospitalized. The doctors moved her to the ICU, but then she contracted pneumonia the following day. The good news is that she beat it a couple of days after, but the bad news is that she's still having trouble breathing. The doctors said that she only has 35% breathing capacity or something like that so they've connected her to some breathing machine.

I don't know how she's doing as of right now because I haven't called in the past 12 hours, and it'll be another 15 before I arrive home.

I'm really sad that I have to leave York. My life there is good and it's a shame that I have to say goodbye. I know it's only for a month, but I don't like the idea of leaving a nice place. It's as if I'm waking up from a dream and having to face reality. Having said that, there is no doubt in my mind that I should be home with my family right now. One of the things I feel most guilty about was missing my great grandma's death a few years ago. I was traveling in Barcelona at the time.

After arrival

I just came back from seeing my grandma in the hospital and she looks horrible. The breathing tube that goes into her lungs is about as thick as my index finger and she has another tube through her nose to feed her. She acknowledged that I was there and she was trying to communicate with me, but because of that fucking breathing tube she couldn't talk and since she kept trying to pull it out, they bounded up her hands so now she can't write either. She's obviously suffering and obviously trying to talk to us, but we just can't communicate with her. It's so frustrating!

I still don't understand why she can't breathe well on her own, but I get the impression that it has to do something with the pneumonia she had. Maybe she has some infection in her lungs? If she can start breathing on her own again I think she'll have a chance. It's that machine that's keeping her there and I'm fully convinced that hospitals drain your spirit even though they may keep you physically alive. The nurse said that they typically use the breathing machine for a couple of weeks and my grandma has only been connected to it for about one. So I think in about one or 1 ½ weeks we'll find out what's going to happen to her. If she continues to need the machine, then they'll have to drill a hole to her trachea, which means we'll have to put her in a convalescent home. I really hope that won't happen because that's where the real soul draining process takes place. My great grandma spent the last decade of her life in one of those homes and it was just depressing. Not being around an environment you're familiar with makes such a big difference on your will to live. Once you lose that, life ends.