comscore Man defies own demons to care for ailing wife
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Man defies own demons to care for ailing wife

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    Community Clearinghouse staff members Lii Orosco, left, and Erika Rodgers, and volunteer Brandon Tom on Friday sorted through donated gifts to be distributed at the donation center in Kalihi.

Though he’s been crippled by a stroke and needs a wheelchair, 68-year-old Joseph is the primary caregiver for his wife, who hasn’t been able to eat, talk or move independently for almost 30 years since suffering a series of incapacitating strokes.

Joseph changes her diaper, keeps her clean and feeds her formula through a tube in her stomach.

"I take good care of her, I sure do," said Joseph, who does not want to use his real name for privacy reasons. "She’s 66 now, but she looks young and pretty and well taken care of. She get nice smile."

The Vietnam War veteran and former construction worker said he is exhausted and depressed, but he pushes on.

"It’s a struggle, but I don’t care about myself," he said. "I cannot put her in a home. I force myself to get up in the morning. Only I can do it, nobody else."

Laura Nishizaki, Joseph’s case manager at the Wai­anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, has requested help for the elderly couple from the Adopt-A-Family Program, a holiday outreach of Helping Hands Hawai‘i.

Joseph has "displayed enormous resilience and strength even in the face of hardship" and has remained "hopeful and kindhearted," Nishizaki said in her recommendation. "It is my hope that they can receive a small token this Christmas to bring a bit of joy to their lives."

Joseph would appreciate a wall clock and a nightgown and socks to keep his wife warm, she added.

The Star-Advertiser’s annual Good Neighbor Fund supports the Adopt-A-Family program in collecting funds, toys, clothing, and household items for struggling families. Readers can designate which family their donations go to. Items can be dropped off at Helping Hands’ Community Clearinghouse; monetary contributions can be made at First Hawaiian Bank branches or mailed.

Joseph’s daughter helped with his wife’s caregiving when he had a stroke three years ago, but she died of cancer last year, and his two sons rarely visit. His stroke weakened the left side of his body, so he uses his head and his right arm to turn his wife’s body every few hours to avoid bedsores, Joseph said in an interview.

His neighbor goes out to buy food for the couple as well as the large quantities of hygienic supplies, toilet paper and paper towels he needs for his wife’s care. They live on a limited income, but "I’m not complaining about that," he said. "I no smoke. I no drink. So I can manage with the money. I not really, really, really poor. I budget my money."

At their income level, the couple qualify for only six hours daily of home health care from Medicaid, which Joseph spaces out in two-hour increments. After his wife’s nurses leave at 5 p.m., "I gotta fend for myself" till 7 a.m. the next day, he said.

He doesn’t see many people besides doctors and the caregivers because he can leave the house only for two hours at a time while someone stays with his wife. But for the first time in three years, Joseph made special arrangements to have someone watch his wife last week so he could take the Handi-Van to Kapolei to browse around the stores.

"It was good. It was the first time I went to Kapolei Walmart. I really like be around people. It was enjoyable, really enjoyable."

Depression has darkened Joseph’s mind since his daughter died at age 37.

"I cry about my daughter, cannot help, cannot help," he said.

His wife still doesn’t realize their daughter has died, he added.

"My daughter, no matter how sick she was, she never talked about death. Me, I kinda ignorant, I talk about death. I not supposed to talk about death. Yeah, I’m so depressed ’cause my daughter died, my wife sick, and I had a stroke. … I don’t want to live, but I’m fighting for her (my wife’s) life."

If anything happened to him, no one would be able give her the careful, loving attention that she receives now, he said.

"If she would have to go into a home, I would kill myself," Joseph said, his voice cracking with emotion. "That’s the last straw."

His wife was only 36 when she became disabled. Joseph spent the next three decades caring for her and raising their children alone.

"I’d do the same thing again if I have to," he said. "I have no regrets."



Clothing, household items and gifts can be dropped off at the Community Clearinghouse, 2100 N. Nimitz Highway, next to Puuhale Road.

Monetary gifts may be sent to the Star-Advertiser’s Good Neighbor Fund; Care of Helping Hands Hawaii; 2100 N. Nimitz Highway, Honolulu, HI 96819.

Checks made out to the Good Neighbor Fund also may be dropped off at any of First Hawaiian Bank’s branches statewide.

Call 440-3800 for more information to sign up for the Adopt-a-Family Program or to arrange for pickup of large items.

Helping Hands Hawaii’s donation warehouse hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (extended hours through December) Monday to Friday.


As of Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tomco Corp. $2,500
Jeffrey Boeckman $500
Arthur H. Bredenbeck $500
Chauncey and Theodora Ching $500
Gayle Y. Harimoto $500
Thomas J. Vincent Foundations $500
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hanohano Jr. $400
Herbert S.H. Au $350
Chun Kerr LLP — attorneys and staff $300
Contemporary Gardens Inc. $300
Hattie and Bob $300
Ronald A. and Manjit K. Reddick $300
God bless from Cole $250
Eric, Cherie and Emma Jensen $250
Lawrence E. and Dayle A. Osborn $250
Ma‘e Ma‘e School’s Sensible Santa Club $210
In memory of Takeo and Misue Abe $200
Marty and Laura Black $200
Ken: Neways/Modere Father Against Cancer $200
Betty Birdsong-McDowell $200
Jolene R. and Samuel I. Nakamatsu $200
In memory of Philip, Annie, Buddy and Patches $200
Herman and Maile N. Ventura $200
In memory of Jean Nouchi $150
Camille Kanemori $150
Garret Masuda $150
Dayne F. McShane $150
Dane Mizoshiri $150
Willson C. Moore Jr. and Sally C. Moore $150
In memory of Kenji and Edith Okimura $150
Merry Christmas, Hak Soon Mercado, James Mercado and Rene Catalan. Love, Jeanne, Noelle, Justin, Devon and Richard $100
Charles A. and Betty J. Bazell $100
In loving memory of “Big Papa,” Gabriel Sr., Remedious and Marcus Garduque $100
Robert E. and Carol Ann Brennan $100
Sylvia Y. and Blake Brown $100
Esther L. Chee $100
Merry Christmas from the Andrew Chings $100
Violet K. Chong $100
Jack R. and Phyllis Corteway $100
Gail Cunningham $100
In memory of Ric and Frances $100
In memory of Gerald Fujimoto $100
Jo Ann Goya $100
Grandpa, Emmett, Elliot, Lily and Aidan $100
Loving memories of Robert Y.K. Wong and Roslynn Y.C. Wong Hall $100
Howard R. and Betty E. Hayashi $100
In memory of Masashi Higa $100
John A. and Jeanette M. Hoag $100
Thomas P. and Gloria P. Huber $100
Y. Kaihara $100
Alma I. Kidoguchi $100
Esther Kifa $100
Henry King $100
Lois Langham $100
Michael Liedemann $100
Jean L.J. Lum $100
In memory of Peter and Anna Mahoe $100
Ken S. Marume $100
In memory of Prof. Howard McKaughan $100
Julie H. and Albert H. Morita $100
Natalie L. F. Nakamura $100
I. Robert Nehmad $100
Clifford K. and Edna K. Nishimura $100
Glenn Y. and Kay J. Nishimura $100
Richard N. and Linda Y. Okamura $100
In memory of Irene Punohu and Ima Okubo $100
Kenneth K. and Amy S. Oshiro $100
In memory of Connie and Bill Recktenwald $100
In loving memory of Alan Richard $100
Susan A. Sakai $100
Jeffrey Schmidt $100
Albert J. Schutz $100
Gerald J. and Sylvia A. Silva $100
In loving memory of Remington Suzuki $100
Cynthia K. Taomae $100
Howard K. and Anna I. Toda $100
Maris and Misha Tasaka, Taylor Tajiri and Grandma Lorraine Tasaka $100
Kevin, Faith and Joshua Tom $100
Jane M. Torikai $100
Virginia Walkey $100
Michael R. and Laurie L. Walsh $100
Wong Kong Har Tong of Hawaii $100
Charlene A. Wong $100
Richard J. C. and Julia M. Wong $100
Claire A. Wood $100
William H. Worley Jr. $100
Reggie H. and Myra M. Yamada $100
Philip C.C. and Cynthia Y. H. Young $100
Glenn S. and Karen T. Hamada $75
Max L. Minor $75
From the 5-0’s $50
Luke Anthony $50
Judith T. and Albert Bader $50
Elizabeth S. and Daniel Berman $50
Jodi L. Tarnasky Endicott $50
Noah and Micah Naniole-Furutami $50
Mary Johnson $50
Frances Y. and Joseph Kawamoto $50
Ann Kawamoto and James E. Martin $50
Ethel S. and Glenn Y. Masui $50
Princess Daisy $50
K. Oshiro $50
Chaitanya Reddy $50
Linda S. Saito $50
Catherine Sammis $50
In memory of Paul W. Schrader $50
C. and S. Wang $50
Lilis Malamah and Lance Watari $50
Leslie Wolfe $50
Francis M. and Suzanne A. Wright $50
Erwin L. Yanuaria $50
Philbert J. and Roberta E. Alencastre $40
Tom and Cyndi Shea $40
Leland, Lexi, Sydney and Taylor $35
Lynn S. Bryan $30
Kathleen and Jay K. Fung $30
Lynn S. Bryan and Evelyn K. Nakamura $30
Yoko Sato $30
Richard and Susan Dole $25
Marianne H. Frank $25
In memory of Loretta Fuddy $25
Lincoln and Judy Fujimori $25
In memory of Evelyn Hanatani $25
Jake and Sadie $25
Hina and Kai Kikuta $25
In memory of Lavinia $25
Elizabeth Lee $25
In memory of Nancy S. Moritomo $25
Masako Nishimura $25
Kristi K. Saito $25
Leroy M. Spencer and James Sandobal $25
Takeshita $25
Helen O. Tanaka and Kathleen O. Shigenaga $25
May L. Imamura-Uruu $25
Esther T. and Duane K. Baba $20
Susan J. Goodhue $20
Kathryn Healy $20
Charlene a. Len $20
Leila Naka $20
Stephen and Elvanette Silva $20
Rodney C.M. and Amy E.G. Ng $15
Erwin M. Helekahi $10
Kathy K. Kaaumoana and Janell Jean K. Cabral $10
Mary E. Lucas $5
Anonymous $3,120.25
This week’s total: $21,275.25
Previous week’s total: $34,940
Total to date: $56,215.25
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