Friday, July 31, 2009

The month in review - Friday, July 31, 2009

Bandar and I had another lunch date together yesterday, when I popped in for a quick visit after completing an interview. The lunch is $4, a bargain. I had a fish sandwich, salad, tater tots, grapes, coffee and banana pudding for dessert. Yum!

Bandar, smiling with "Smiley," right
First impressions
Pleased to see me dressed professionally, mama-in-law said, "I like that suit. Wear it at my funeral." Now if anyone else had spoken so morbidly, I would have been concerned. But she's been repeating the same refrain for years -- every time I don business attire. It has nothing to do with her state of health. She seems to enjoy planning her funeral -- what she'll wear, who will carry her casket and so on. We've heard her instructions a hundred times. Dress up. Don't wear a hat. Don't wear a beard. She's seen how Americans act and dress, even in church, and she doesn't want to take any chances. For people of her heritage and generation, men and women dress conservatively and respectfully for solemn occasions. And solemn occasions take place in the Church. (Some day, I'll post about her reaction to Sophie's and my choice to marry in Wade Chapel -- at Lakeview Cemetery.)

Making friends
Turning back to living her current life, she loves the exceptional staff at Jennings. "Smiley," pictured with Bandar, above, is one of her favorite aides. When Sophie and I refer to mama as "the queen" or "her highness," staff never bother to ask why or correct us. Bandar knows what she wants and is never shy about letting others know, including me. (The last time I popped in for lunch, Bandar looked up from her soup, and, seeing me for the first time that day, she looked back down and said, "Get me napkin." Of course I obliged.) We think she is well liked, or at least highly tolerated, by the nurses, aides and physical therapy assistants.

Bandar's strength, endurance and pain have all improved since she arrived at Jennings. She was able to walk about 8- to 10-feet, with a walker and assistance when she arrived. That distance has increased to 60- to 80-feet, with a walker but with minimum assistance. We hope to see continued improvement over the next three to four weeks, when she is likely to move back home with Sophie and me for the next chapter of our lives, intertwined. Until then, Sophie and I visit every day, sometimes together but usually separately, to encourage her, do physical therapy exercises with her (as pictured) and meet with staff.
Mama-in-law, Bandar Murad started her stint in short-term rehab a month ago, June 29. She had fallen May 19 off her front porch and suffered a compression fracture to her T12 vertebra, which caused pain that extended to her legs, which also became weaker. Throughout May and the first couple weeks of June the fracture continued to compress, as did the pain and weakness in her legs. After three days of further diagnosis and observation at Metro Health Hospital in late June, her doctors sent her to Jennings Home for Older Adults to begin rehab and recovery.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Working the program - Friday, July 10, 2009

Good news from rehab... After a productive morning in physical therapy today, Bandar happily joined staff and short-term rehab residents for a picnic lunch, complete with grilled hot dogs and near perfect weather. (Presumably, Jell-o was a dessert option, as it has been for all the meals I've seen or eaten.) If you know Bandar like we know Bandar, her attendance at such a function and with relative strangers requires considerable effort, which she's unlikely to exert when in great pain or discomfort.

Bandar attends both physical- and occupational-therapy sessions five days a week. (Physical Therapy Assistant Amy discusses exercises on the parallel bars, above, and checks Bandar's endurance level, right.) Sophie and I find it difficult to see how much progress Sophie's mom makes day to day, but we've noticed distinct improvement today vs. a week ago vs. June 29, her day of admission to the rehab unit. Her strength and endurance have most definitely improved. She can walk up to about 30 feet with the aid of a walker before tiring (compared to one or two steps 10 days ago). No doubt the encouragement and care delivered by the excellent staff at Jennings Center for Older Adults is largely a factor. Additionally, Bandar is one of the most visited rehab residents at Jennings. Sophie and I come by at least once a day, sharing meals and physical therapy sessions, doctor's appointments and planning-meetings with caregivers. Sophie's brother, Morris, along with his girlfriend, Lynn, his son, David, daughter, Shanon and granddaughter, Jackie, are frequent flyers, too, boosting the matriarch's morale more.
We realize, sometimes begrudgingly, that the pace of my 84-year-old mama-in-law's recovery runs according to God's time, not ours. We'd like her home today, but it looks more like she'll be at Jennings until mid August or so. Until then, we just do what we can to provide comfort and support. And personally, I have the good fortune to continue to grow, add greater understanding and new items to my gratitude list.
Several of the care-givers on the main floor tell us Bandar is not without her challenges. The term we heard was "demanding." A couple of staff members in particular have taken to Bandar and enjoy caring for her. We've watched Bandar grow very fond of them as well.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Today with Bandar

I accompanied Bandar to physical therapy today. She successfully walked 24 feet, aided by a walker and Amy the PT assistant. That's an improvement over yesterday's 15 feet and Monday's 8 feet. After that and additional exercises, she was exhausted but encouraged. I admire her determination. Thanks for your continued encouragement.

Steve Cadwell
Sent from my iPhone
(216) 374-0856

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Life cycles

Mama-in-law, Bandar, today begins her second full day at rehab (and she said, "No! No! No!"). She's not thrilled to be away from her home or ours but is happy to have been discharged from Metro Health Hospital, where she spent Friday through Monday evening. She's housed in a private room at the Jennings Center for Older Adults, in Garfield Heights, less than 10 minutes from CadMur Manor. She may be there for two weeks or more, during which time she will have around-the-clock care and daily physical therapy, to walk as best she can while both the swelling in her T12 compression fracture and the pain subside and the function in her legs returns to as close to normal as possible. This is a use-it-or-lose-it proposition. She must stay mobile if she wants to retain muscle memory and some ability to walk, aided or unaided. Body casts and bed rest are not options.

We met over lunch yesterday in one of the dining areas. Tomato and rice soup, green peas, baked potato, veal cutlet, diced fruit, juice and coffee. Yum! A beautiful facility, Jennings has been in operation since 1942, when the Sisters of the Holy Spirit, an order of nuns under the auspices of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, accepted a new ministry made possible through a bequest by the late Monsignor Gilbert Jennings. (The Center is not affiliated with Cleveland's well-known charity, the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation.) Bandar had been to physical therapy in the morning, and when I arrived she was seated in a wheelchair at a table comparing notes with a fellow resident, Theresa, who is also at Jennings on a short-term rehabilitation assignment. Although Bandar's English is on the far side of broken and her hearing is deficient, the two were engaging and connecting well enough. Bandar enjoyed the opportunity to show off to her new friend that her son-in-law had come to see her. We were soon joined by two other residents, Chester and Lucille. After lunch, Bandar and I met privately with her attending physician, who outlined her treatment program and explained how healing typically works in back-injury cases such as hers. I left after 2, hopeful. Later, Bandar received visits from her son, Morris, granddaughter Shannon and from Sophie, who met Bandar on her way home from work.

All the while, Cleveland looked like its stereotypical self: grey skies and changing weather. A cool front brought drizzles and cleansing showers throughout the day. We expect more of the same today and in the next few days. At CadMur Manor, Sophie's tomatoes are tied and reaching maximum capacity for the size stakes she used; I will adjust and fix today as I can, with duct tape or green tying stuff or whatever else I can use. Sophie's basil is at harvest stage -- but it will do better, grow thicker and fuller, once we get back to warm, sunny days. More bright-yellow prickly pear cactus flowers blooms appeared yesterday, and then just as quickly were crushed by the relentless precipitation. Along with the milkweed, the bee balm is starting to bloom, as is the purple coneflower, all taking advantage of the thirst-quenching rain. Our gazebo is nearly covered now by the climbing clematis. May night sage is past its prime, but Sophie's deadheading will yield at least another bloom this summer. Similarly, each of our other perennials and self-seeding annuals is engaged in its life cycle, living within the limits accorded by its God-given DNA and by its environment. I will post pics as I'm able.

My appreciation for people, nature, peace, serenity, love and the simple things in life continues to grow. More is revealed every day. As I peel away each layer of the onion that is my life, I discover more onion, there for me to experience, to enjoy and appreciate whenever I want and am willing to pay attention and participate. Life works when I work with what I have, do what is required --whatever may be the next right thing, when I try to be of service, help another person, learn and grow.