Tia from Hawaii

My name is Tia Pearson, and I am here to share my caregiving story. It was about fifteen years ago, when my now late, husband, Tom, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It wasn’t until October of 2000 that Tom started to get bad, his nerves became very weak and he began to deteriorate. On New Year’s Day of 2001, we were at a family party and Tom stood up and fell suddenly due to his shakiness and broke his hip, this is what sent him into the hospital. Unfortunately, the medication the hospital had been giving him for pain had caused his memory to almost completely go, so much so that he didn’t know who our two children or I were.
When we got him home, I soon realized what I was getting myself into, a 24/7 job, on top of my actual job, and our two young children who were mentally disabled as well. He couldn’t walk without a wheel chair so I had to bathe, feed, drive, and care for his every need. I had to stop working because of all of this which put my family and me in a very bad place financially. Fortunately, the hospital provided a nurse to come once a week to teach me something’s I needed to know.
Tripler gave respite care once a year for a couple of weeks. When he was leaving the hospital, the doctor asked him if he wanted to come home or stay here. He immediately responded, “Home.” I wanted him to come home as well; it’s very hard and uncomfortable to see a loved one in a hospital room. I was my husband’s primary caregiver for about four years before he passed away, and during that time I learned a lot. My life would have been a lot easier if I had more help and someone to guide me more through this difficult time. I realized during this time that I had unconsciously developed resentment towards the whole situation, which made it even harder to deal with. I soon realized that I was spending so much time caring for Tom and my children that I had no time for myself. I replaced my resentment with gratitude for learning how to serve life better through my husband. The more positive self-talk I did, the more refreshed I felt. Many days, I had to give gratitude all the time. Looking back on this time of my life, the advice I would definitely give to family caregivers is to keep your own mental status in-check and not to forget to take care of yourself while taking care of your loved one. Make sure your diet works for you and not against you. Having some healthy cooked meals by someone else would have been a fantastic gift. Caregiving is a fulltime job that needs more recognition from all and I only wish that it could get easier for anyone who puts in the time to care for a loved one.

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