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.