When I first met my wife Peggy – I remember that night so
clearly. I took her out to eat. The entire evening was filled with magic. We
talked, she smiled a lot, and I was hooked. We hit it off like two
lovebirds. Soon after, we tied the
Looking back at Peggy’s life—she spent 15 years at AT&T
where she enjoyed a successful career in management. No matter what she
stumbled into on the job—she handled it with grace and tenacity. A proud moment
for Peggy was when she pulled off a big presentation for five corporate vice
Peggy set herself apart from her peers, with her go getter
personality and sharp-as-nails vocabulary. She was so quick with ideas,
thoughts, and solutions. That was back in the late 1980’s.
Fast forward to 1998—that’s when I noticed subtle changes in
Peggy—at first barely detectable—she forget to brush her teeth. Then it became
more obvious—she wore the same slacks and blouse for several days. Clearly,
something in Peggy was changing.
We finally met with a doctor to get some answers. It was
hard to understand exactly what was going on. Even the doctor wasn’t sure. At
first, Peggy’s memory faded, but when she showed signs of depression, the mood
changes blurred the lines for the doctors and the diagnosis.
We all have our ups and downs, but depression wasn’t in
Peggy’s DNA—it wasn’t a typical personality trait for her. She was usually
upbeat and energetic.
She used to love running 5K races and she had an insatiable
appetite for reading. But that all stopped and she no longer did the things
that used to bring her joy.
Doctors thought it was dementia, or depression, or possibly
depression that mimics dementia—something they referred to as conversion, which
happens when people give up on life.
As Peggy continually declined, it was up to me to help her
get dressed and remind her to brush her teeth.
At times she became combative, it is a sight you never think you’ll
see—until it happens. But that’s just how neurological diseases generally
progress. So I adapted to the changes—as many caregivers do.
Eventually Peggy’s appetite dropped off—which led to
dehydration and a trip to hospice. Thankfully, she regained her strength and came
back home a week later.
Eventually the day came when I held a spoon in my hand to
feed my wife—like a parent feeding a child. I had to learn how to convince her
to eat. Peggy likes raisin bran with EnsuRe. Sometimes I dunk spoonfuls of it
in her grape juice—she likes that.
During mealtime, I pay attention to Peggy’s energy level. If
she’s too tired, she’s less likely to eat. The times when she won’t eat, it
takes a little more patience on my part. There’s no point in trying to force
feed someone with no appetite. They usually win.
Here’s another trick I’ve discovered. I place a small
spoonful of cereal on Peggy’s lips – just to give her a taste. Then I wait.
When she’s ready, she takes a bite. It takes time. I can tell you, most homecare
workers don’t have time for that.
And that’s just one reason why I do what I do. I know I can
give my wife the best possible care—better than anyone else in the world. For
one simple reason—I love my wife and I want the best for her.
Just last year, Peggy stopped walking. But she still taps
her foot when she hears a song on the radio. She likes Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus
At this point, my wife relies on me for pretty much
everything. That includes bathing and cleaning her up after she uses the
I use Sage brand Comfort Shield® Barrier Cream Cloths to
keep Peggy’s skin clean after she uses the toilet. Even though I stay on top of
her hygiene and skincare, the wipes sure help protect her skin. And I’m happy to say—no skin breakdown so
far. So I’m sticking with Sage Products.
In closing—I can tell you that I am a caregiver because I want to be that person. Caregivers
take on the role for different reasons. But for me—while it’s not easy to be on
call all the time—I enjoy being with my wife of 29 years—and being there for
her. I get a tremendous amount of joy seeing how well Peggy has done under my
watchful care. I feel that is it my greatest achievement.