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The Caregivers Window

The Caregivers Window, moderated by Ray Ritchey (Tippy2), features a blend of his hard learned lessons as he cared for his wife (Tippy) combined with questions and answers submitted in this caregivers message board.  Tippy was a very much loved and respected, long time active member of our COPD International family.

Background

25 years ago, my  wife Marilyn and I moved to Table Rock Lake in Southwest Missouri.

We owned our own business, worked and played together and truly enjoyed the rural life we were leading. We did everything together and life was good.

Our first health problem was her diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis in 1994.  This disease was controlled using medicines with minimal affect on our lifestyle.  Her health began to deteriorate over the next few years and in 2003 she was diagnosed with COPD-Bronchiectasis and Emphysema having already been diagnosed with RA, Acid Reflux, High Cholesterol, early signs of Pulmonary Fibrosis.  In March of 2006 she was placed on Oxygen 24/7.  I became her Caregiver having no experience whatsoever.  I knew I had to learn everything possible about these diseases and how to help her. I researched where I could and visited with doctors, therapist, nurses, and other professionals at every opportunity concerning my care for her.  I absolutely was determined to provide the best care possible for her.  I took notes visiting with professionals, watched what and how they administered care to her, and picked up knowledge anywhere that I could.  She in turn maintained a positive attitude, never gave up on anything and began a long, hard courageous battle against these diseases.  Throughout we were together, as we desired.  Together we faced many, many challenges along the way.  We were fortunate to have an employee, who is also a very, very dear friend, capable of handling our business when I was gone to handle caregivers duties and support 24 hrs a day.  My wife maintained her positive attitude and fought to the end.  We were together as we both wanted.  She passed away peacefully, in my arms, at our home on Memorial Day 2009.  I will always be so proud of her. 

We had lived by our motto “You and Me, That’s The Way It Will Always Be” and I accept her passing as only a temporary separation.

Friends, doctors, nurses, and others have encouraged me to share the knowledge I gained taking care of her with others as a way to help other caregivers in turn help their loved ones.  I am no professional.  However I do hope to be able to help others in anyway I can.

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