James Colozzo’s Experience
As A Caregiver
Taking Care Of My Parents For Over Twenty Years
You Got To Do What You Got To Do
In the late nineteen eighties I made the decision to take care of my mom and dad when they got ill. This was a life changing decision and it forced me to do things that I thought I would never or could do. My parents became the child and I became the adult. I had a small business during this time and that consumed a lot of time and effort.
I was a video system designer and I also operated a mail order video supplies and repair business. I was still living at home and being my own boss meant I was in a good position to leave work to help my mom and dad. I never thought how this decision would affect my business.
My father became ill first with a very aggressive disease. It was a learning and terrifying experience at the same time. His fight for life lasted about two years and after my father died my business was done. I tried to keep it going but too much time was spent taking care of my dad and I had to close the business in 1996.
My mom and dad were close and many thought she would die soon after my father. My mom had a strong will to live and she showed it. In the late seventies she was diagnosed with scoliosis and severe curvature of the spine, which caused her to be in severe pain. Whenever we went out she needed a wheelchair to get around. After many visits to doctors and chiropractors, they all gave up and said nothing could be done except pain medication. In 1993 she found a lump on her breast and after a biopsy is was diagnosed as malignant. She had a mastectomy and the cancer was removed. She had a few reoccurrences in later years but they were treated and she became a breast cancer survivor three times.
In 1999 my mother woke up and said she could not move her legs or stand up. I was thirty-eight years old at the time and on that day my life changed forever. She could no longer be left alone and needed twenty-four hour care. This lasted until her death in 2013. Eighteen years of my life was spent taking care of my mother and almost fourteen of those years were twenty-four hours a day.
During this time we went through hundreds of doctors visits, multiple medical procedures and hospital stays. We also relocated to another part of the state, switched doctors and medical facilities. There were fun times, bad times and tragedy but we endured. I was her caregiver, therefore she was my responsibility and it was my job to take care of her. We worked together and she trusted me so we were able to work through it all. I believe she had a good quality of life and enjoyed herself until the end. I did the best job I could and I feel that contributed to her long life. It was hard work and was very trying at times but I got through it.
The book, You Got To Do What You Got To Do, is a collection of these situations, procedures and techniques. It was a life changing experience that affected me forever. It is a first hand account on how I took care of my dad and mom. I was involved in everything that was required to care for them. If it needed to be done, I was the one that had to do it. I was their voice and ears in many situations and had to deal with many professionals while I was caring for my parents. It also tells the story of how much my life was affected and changed forever after I made the decision to take care of my parents. Most authors don’t include the aftermath of what happens to their life after they no longer have to care for a parent. I am now in my mid-fifties, for me it has been extremely difficult and I am still trying to put my life back together.
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