End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

My Loving Wife, Barbara Manciniby Chris

Back

By Joe Mancini
October 1, 2013

I would like to tell you a little about my wife, Barbara, and just some of the things she has done for her father, Joe Yourshaw; mother, Marge; and other family members to let you know that she has always been very lovingly active in our lives.

Several years ago, Barb was the one who urged her father to make a doctor’s appointment after pointing out to him that he was diabetic and had high blood pressure. It had been over 30 years since he last saw a doctor, but Barb was able to convince him to do so, and with that visit the doctor confirmed that he in fact did have uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure. The doctor prescribed a course of medications, which he faithfully took, and he would record his blood sugar and blood pressure readings daily, anxiously showing Barb his results on her many visits.

In 2003, Barb was the one who realized that her father was having a stroke. At that time, Barb’s parents had a second home in Florida, where her father would spend up to nine months a year fixing up and maintaining that home and acres of property. One day he called Barb’s mother (who was back at their Pottsville home) and asked her to get an old set of crutches that they had stored away many years ago and bring them down to Florida thinking that he had overworked his joints because one of his legs was not working, and he was having weakness in his right arm and falling a lot.

Funny thing, Barb’s mom got the crutches, picked up a son-in-law that was in the area and started to drive the over 1,800 miles down to Florida!  En route to Florida, she called Barb to tell her what she was doing. While they were continuing their trek, Barb immediately called her father. After telling Barb his symptoms, Barb told him that it sounded like he was having a stroke and to call 911. He refused, thinking that he had just overworked himself. Barb, out of great concern for her father, then called his doctor in Pottsville, and with both her and the doctor on the line, convinced her father to call 911. Her father then proceeded to drag himself around the house, got changed, packed a suitcase and dragged himself out to the driveway, where the EMS crew found him. Barb’s father was taken to the local hospital where it was confirmed that he in fact had a stroke, and after much treatment, he fully recovered. The point is that Barb actually gave her father many more years of quality life due to her recognizing his symptoms and lovingly convincing him to seek immediate emergency care, not just for the stroke, but also for his diabetes and high blood pressure.

In 2001, Barb’s mother had eye surgery for a macular hole. Treatment for this condition requires the eye surgeon to inject a gas directly into the eye to create an air bubble, with which her mom had to keep her head in a constant bent-over down position or lay on her stomach with her head facing down at all times for several weeks to let the gas bubble rise to the hole so the eye could heal. Barb was the one who would make the 100-mile, two-hour ride to make sure that her mother’s needs were met and that she made all of her follow-up appointments so her mother could retain her eyesight. Barb did the same when her mother had multiple cataract surgeries over the years. Barb was also the loving, caring daughter who was there for her mom when in 2011 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and needed a mastectomy. Barb was with her mother throughout the hospital stay, and once again made sure that her mother was taken to her follow-up appointments and more importantly gave her mom the loving emotional support that she needed in such a difficult time. Later that year, Barb’s mom was diagnosed with melanoma, and again Barb was there every step of the way to support her mother throughout her difficult ordeal.

Four years ago Barb’s younger sister Linda, at only 50 years old, had a massive stroke and to this day has debilitating physical and cognitive disabilities as a result. After multiple brain surgeries, Barb’s sister was confined to a nursing home, where she languished and slowly was losing all of her remaining physical and cognitive skills. It was Barb who fought for almost two years to get her sister the proper treatments, follow-up appointments and rehabilitation care that she needed to retain some of her important functions. With that loving care, her sister is now back living with her husband in a handicapped-accessible home and is receiving daily care to continue to help her maintain a functional life. Barb also helped arrange to have a caregiver at her sister’s home 15 hours a day to assist in Linda’s care.

Barb’s brother-in-law, Howard, the husband of her disabled sister, also has multiple chronic illnesses including Parkinson’s and cardiac disease. For several years, unknown to Barbara, Howard was having fainting and dizzy episodes, some of which caused him to fall and seriously injure himself. Once Barb found out about these symptoms and after reviewing his multiple prescribed medications, Barb was able to figure out that the likely cause of his dizzy spells was medication interactions. Barb then proceeded, with her brother-in-law’s approval, to contact his various doctors informing them of her suspicions. The doctors concurred with Barbara’s assessment and adjusted Howard’s medications. To this date, all of Howard’s dizzy episodes have ceased.

Barb’s father always kept himself very well informed of local, national and international affairs, and he was a voracious reader of current events and history. Once or twice every week, Barb would cut out news articles from various news sources from around the country and the world, and along with crossword puzzles, would mail them to her parents for their enjoyment. Barb’s dad was especially fond of these articles and would anxiously await their arrival. Barb’s mom would get a laugh out of how her husband would be the first one every day to get to the mail and how he would tuck the large manila envelope under his arm to make sure that he was the first one to open the packet and have first dibs on the many interesting articles. It gave him immense pleasure reading the various news articles that Barb provided, and every time I visited my in-laws, the conversations I had with my father-in-law would always center around those news articles.

Barb’s dad also took great pleasure in having the company of our 100-plus pound German shepherd dog, “Dano,” visit him. He would subtly hint to Barb’s mom to ask Barb if she was going bring Dano with her on her next visit. Knowing how much pleasure our dog gave him, Barb would sometimes bring Dano along on her journey to Pottsville, where her dad would make sure that my mother-in-law would have some fresh cold-cut meats available for our dog. My father-in-law would get immense joy in the company of our big German shepherd, spoiling him with cold cuts and petting him, talking of fond memories of dogs he had as a child, and the one they had when Barb and her siblings where growing up.

Barb did all of these loving things for her parents and sister despite living nearly 100 miles away, despite having two daughters to raise and homeschool, despite working a demanding job, and despite everything that involves being a loving wife. Barb did all she did out of love and devotion for her dad, mom and sister. Barb continues to look after the well-being of her mother with daily multiple phone conversations and frequent visits. Barb also continues to follow the care of her disabled sister.

I am not going to go into details of our immediate family life, but let it suffice to say that Barbara has been, and is, what a loving mother should be to our daughters. As nurturer, guider an educator, she is loving, caring, compassionate and understanding. For our daughters, Gabriela and Maria, to have to witness this unfair prosecution of their loving mother and to see the pain it has caused her and their grandmother is extremely difficult. It also greatly pains me as her husband of 19 years to see the woman that I deeply love and care about, and a person who has always been a productive citizen, taxpayer, voter, civic-minded community supporter and, to say the least, a positive contributor to society in general, go through this unfair and unjust prosecution. It is at times, for all of us, unbearable.