Saturday, December 18, 2010

Every day with Bandar, to be continued

"I'm still living."

That's the classic Bandar way of answering any form of, "How are you?"

She's still living. And she's fond of reminding friends and family. Especially me.

She says it with a twinkle. As if to tweak me. Maybe it's my imagination.

"I know I'm a pain," she says anytime we're doing something for her like preparing food, taking her someplace or doing any of a dozen routine tasks for her.

"I'm sorry I'm so much trouble," she sighs.

We hear that a lot, too.

And she has another response to, "How are you?"

"Har-uhm, Bandar."

Or sometimes, "Bandar, har-uhm."

She means, "Oh, poor me. Feel sorry for me."

We prefer, "I'm still living."

Despite her occasional protestations and apologies, Bandar's in the best shape she's been in in quite some time -- physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

I think she's more surprised than anyone that she's doing so well.

Hence the declaration, the realization almost in bewilderment, "I'm still living."

She's at her best since before the Great Fall of 2009, when she sustained a spinal compression fracture. Since moving in to CadMur Manor and getting a new regimen of care, nearly 24-7.

Bandar's recovery has been spectacular. In the past year she got out of the house occasionally for a dinner at Applebee's or at Phnom Penh, visited her sister and her family and even checked in on her own house in Brooklyn. She no longer requires PT at Metro. She exercises regularly.

(She has also given up any hope of returning home to live on her own. She needs continued care.)

Bandar was well enough in December to do a little traveling.

For Christmas, Sophie, Bandar and I visited Sophie's sister in Virginia Beach. When it was time to say goodbye, Bandar stayed behind. If all goes well, she'll enjoy the company (and care) of grandchildren, daughter and son-in-law, in a slightly warmer climate until returning here in March.

Big adjustment for all concerned.

After 70 weeks and three days of every day with Bandar without a break, Sophie and I awoke in our house Dec. 28 with only the two dogs and ourselves to care for.

Seventy weeks and three days. Four-hundred ninety days. Eleven thousand seven hundred sixty hours. The spell is broken, at least for awhile.

For about two months and with God's grace, it should be just us with no mother-in-law.

We can go to a movie, dine out or go away for a weekend unencumbered by thoughts and worries.

Last night we enjoyed dinner out with friends and neighbors and didn't get home until almost 10 o'clock. (I know, I know. But we could have stayed out even later if we wanted to!)

I can set the house temperature at something below 71 degrees.

Sophie doesn't have to put her mother to bed or dress her each morning.

No weekly showers.

We intend to take full advantage of this break, for like all things it, too, shall pass. Come early March, it'll be time for another adjustment.

Thankfully, all of our lives and everything in the Universe worked together over the last year or so such that we've been given ample resources to manage. We could not have gotten by without them.

When I started a new job in March last year, friend Pam stepped forward to make Bandar breakfast most work days. Brother Morris, Sophie's older sibling, changed his life and work schedule around to bring Bandar lunch and visit briefly five days a week. We had additional help from friends and neighbors.

Lots more happened during the last nearly 12 months. Sophie continues to be busy with work and life, and my job has been a perfect complement to all of my experiences over the last couple of years.

We are blessed. I'll try to provide more frequent updates going forward. Thanks for checking in.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

On compensation and Bandar care

Clarifying my post from yesterday, "Help Wanted":

We expect to compensate (pay) the caretaker we hire to help out with "Bandar care" (see post). It won't be a lot. But we can't expect someone to be held accountable and keep an ongoing commitment without payment. We'll even pay in U.S. dollars!

Thanks to several good friends who asked for the clarification. Feedback's always good. Well, almost always.

Here's my favorite, a gentle challenge from my friend in Naples. I won't mention his name other than to say it rhymes with Dinger:
"What's the pay? You are a true manager, don't bring up the juice. Git 'em hooked on the mushy stuff but don't mention the juice."
Oh, there's juice.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Help wanted

Do you know of someone who might be available to help care for Bandar, up to five days a week for a few hours a day? Read on.
Bandar Wants You!
They say it takes a village. Somehow, I became the daytime mayor of the village responsible for taking care of Bandar, my dear mother-in-law. (Sophie gets the job every night and weekend, lucky woman!)

Now it looks as though the other villagers and I will need some assistance -- if a certain job prospect comes my way, sometime in the next two to six weeks. (Stay tuned for details. I can't say publicly what it is just yet.)
Bandar needs someone to come into the house a couple or more hours a day during the week to prepare food, serve and clean up and drive Bandar to one or more appointments each week, e.g., to physical therapy, doctor, dentist, etc. We anticipate this will require a commitment of 10 to 20 hours a week.
Maybe you are that someone. Or maybe you know that someone. You might live in the Mill Creek community, or know someone who lives nearby. Let us know.

Contact me via email, Or call, (216) 374-0856.

We want to put the word out now, because we believe that somewhere in our network of friends is someone who is the perfect person for this assignment. While we may need to go to a professional service, we are hopeful that someone we know, or someone we will get to know, will be a good fit for our needs.

We are blessed in so many ways. In the last several months, Bandar's health and mobility have improved immensely. The amount of time necessary to take care of Bandar day to day has decreased dramatically. These factors have allowed me to get back into the work world again, where I hope to make meaningful contributions to a new set of people and institutions, in new ways.

Besides Sophie, her siblings and me, we have a host of other villagers, treasured family members, friends and neighbors, near and far, who have been able to assist with "Bandar duties" from time to time. But now we need someone who can be there daily.

If you can help, let us know.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

More pop culture in Bandar Land

"Who's that lady?" Bandar asked. "I know her. How do I know her? Why is she up there?"

Why this sudden interest? I wondered.

As we were en route to Bandar's physical therapy session, the billboard we passed near the Harvard-Dennison bridge had a huge picture of a woman with big hair and a big smile. It said something about a TV show featuring Joy Behar. (I wondered to myself briefly, how do I know who Joy Behar is?)

"She's on TV," I said.

"Why is her picture up there?" Bandar asked.

"They want people to watch her TV show at night. It's advertising. It's a billboard."

"I watch her 17 years," Bandar laughed, apparently referring to Behar's daytime show, The View. "Every day. Four ladies. They're very smart."

I'll take Bandar's word for it. Meanwhile, I'm adding Behar to the Bandar list of improbable, eclectic favorites, along with Dallas and Dirty Jobs.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bandar endorses "Dirty Jobs"

Found this interesting: Upon our return home tonight from a Friday night out, Sophie and I found Bandar glued to the TV, intently watching the Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs." (Sophie's brother, Morris, was Bandar-sitting for us and had the show on.) The last show she expressed this much excitement for was "Dallas."