Earl and Bonnie Truax: A Husband and Wife Story

Earl and Bonnie Truax, married for 58 years, discuss their experiences with the "team effort" caregiving (Earl) and macular degeneration (Bonnie). Together, they discuss the difficulties and rewards of caregiving, including Bonnie’s desire to remain independent.



Transcript of Video

Bonnie Truax, Age 81, Macular Degeneration

NARRATOR: A gray-haired woman sitting on the couch

BONNIE: It's very hard for the... we call it caregiver—and in my case it's Earl, my husband—when you can't find the telephone number, or maybe you can't find the telephone, uh... who do you pick on? You pick on the person who's there. I yell at Earl.[Laughs] "Why couldn't you help me?" You know, "I don't understand why you can't help me." That kind of thing.

Earl Truax, Age 82, Husband and Caregiver

NARRATOR: A bald man wearing a blue-collared shirt.

EARL: I get disgusted at times with her because I think she ought to do this or that or the other,and she says, "Well, don't tell me what to do." So I try not to tell her what to do, because she doesn't like that. She wants to be her own person and do her own things, and when we go to a doctor's office, she doesn't want me to go up and tell them her name and sign in, and so on, she wants to do that. I stay in the background. So when we go to a restaurant, I naturally... I need to read the menu because she can't read the menu. They bring two and she just says, "I'm visually impaired, he'll order." So I do that, I read the menu, and we decide on what we're going to do and we place the order. When the food tray comes, then it's something different. I say, "Well, we use the clock system. Your meat's at six o'clock, your vegetables are at two o'clock, there's something else over here, salad, at eight o'clock," so she's got a mental picture right in front of her of what's on that plate. I have to make sure she gets the knife turned the right way, sometimes it's upside down. I say, "Your knife's upside down. It'll be easier to cut if you turn it over." And she does that. We just grin and laugh about those things.

BONNIE: They have to take a lot of grief while you're getting used to this thing, and even after that. I lose my temper sometimes because things go so slowly and I'm not... it's not too pleasant, you know, but it's... it's a normal thing.

A Team Effort

EARL: I still love her, just as much as I always have for all 58 years we've been married.

NARRATOR: Earl and Bonnie, smiling, in a recent family photo.

EARL: We work as a team, we always have. We have our individual roles, our individual likes and dislikes, and so on, but we try to get along with each other, help each other, support each other, and it hasn't changed between the time she was sighted and the time she lost her vision.

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