What would you do if your wife was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease?
Claude Bachand found out, starting in 1998.
In 2008, his wife, Dotty, died.
In 2012, he published “Please Stop,” a memoir about their lives, their enduring love, and how they coped with Parkinson’s.
About half of the memoir is set in South Carolina, primarily in Murrells Inlet, where the couple lived during the years Dotty was afflicted with Parkinson’s. Claude, 76, still lives in Wachesaw East.
A former journalist and public relations and marketing man, Claude describes their pasts growing up in a small mill town, their meeting and marriage and life before Parkinson’s, and how they dealt with problems related to her mobility, balance, eating and drinking:
For example, at the movies, they’d sit in the back row, in case Dotty’s dyskinesia began; they asked waitresses to bring Dotty’s iced tea with a lid and straw, in case she knocked the drink over; and Claude carried four handkerchiefs with him at all times, handing one to Dotty if she began drooling.
He also rushed her to the emergency room at Waccamaw Hospital twice after serious falls.
Dotty was diagnosed and treated originally by local physicians, but the couple also traveled 500 miles, twice a year, up to Baltimore to visit with a noted Parkinson’s specialist. The book describes some of those sessions in detail.
The memoir first takes the reader back to the 1940′s and 1950′s in Southbridge, Mass. The Great Depression had just ended, but money was still scarce and their fathers – unfortunately – drank away much of their paychecks.
Dotty was well behaved and watched over closely by her mother. In contrast, Claude, the last of eight children, had relatively free rein and was a bit of a scamp, he said, having behavioral problems at home and school, and in the Air Force.
Through the Korean GI Bill, he studied journalism at Louisiana Tech University, where he was editor of the school newspaper. He graduated summa cum laude, and was awarded an assistantship for graduate study at the University of Illinois.
Claude and Dotty met after his graduation from Illinois, married, and raised three children, all of whom live in or near South Carolina.
Claude worked briefly as a reporter for a daily newspaper and United Press International, but spent most of his working life in public relations and marketing.
The couple moved to Murrells Inlet upon his retirement in 1998.
Dotty passed away 10 years later.
(“Please Stop” by Claude Bachand is available at Amazon.com and Kindle.)
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