Photo of Richard & his Wife

Richard Bigaouette's Story

Former farmer and construction worker, Richard Bigaouette of Hamburg, was excited to enjoy retirement. “My wife and I toured the countryside in our car. When we were not driving somewhere, I helped my wife with the flower garden and I mowed and trimmed the lawn,” Richard said. “But it grew harder for me to do that work. It was harder to walk to the garage or to the garden. It was harder to mow, harder to breathe and harder
to recover.”

Richard eventually visited his doctor after extended periods of pain under his heart and experiencing shortness of breath. At the appointment, his oxygen levels were so low that he needed supplemental oxygen immediately or he risked being hospitalized.

Richard was diagnosed with end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and respiratory failure. COPD is a group of lung diseases that make it difficult to breathe due to blockages of the airflow.

After five years of living with COPD, Richard realized everyday activities were becoming even more difficult. “I was less active. I avoided being outside because the heat, humidity and the cold can affect my breathing. I was unable to use stairs,” he said.

In December 2017, Richard moved to The Harbor at Peace Village, an assisted-living community in Norwood Young America, to receive more assistance. In March 2019, Richard entered the Ridgeview Hospice program.

“I had heard hospice was your last resort. You go into hospice and you’re dead,” Richard said. “It turned out to be a new beginning that saved my life.”

Ridgeview Hospice provides Richard care he can’t find anywhere else, and he’s supported by the entire team. He enjoys many elements of Ridgeview Hospice, including music therapy, massage therapy, and visits with the chaplain and social workers.

“The music can’t be beat!” said Richard. “It provides me with relaxation and a spiritual uplifting.” He also enjoys massage therapy, saying, “It helps me feel less pain and I feel the calmness coming on. I can feel uptight and just hearing my massage therapist talk to me during our session gives me such a relaxing feeling.”

Richard’s faith is an important part of his life, which is why he relishes the weekly visits from the Ridgeview Hospice chaplain. “When the chaplain reads to me, it’s the highlight of my day,” he said. “God gave me life and hospice supports me physically, emotionally and spiritually.” Ridgeview Hospice has had such a positive impact on Richard. “I am more relaxed than I have been in my life,” he said. “I honestly can’t believe you can get this level of care. The team keeps coming and checking on me and offering more help. I trust everyone on the team like they are family.”

This is especially meaningful in 2020, as COVID-19 restricted visitors at The Harbor of Peace Village. As a result, Richard missed visits from his wife of 60 years, Ardene, and his eight children. “The hospice team keeps me uplifted and I would be very lonely if they weren’t showing up.”

“I can let my mind wander and get down, but someone from hospice comes out and we get to talking. Suddenly, it’s like I’ve lit a candle and I’m back on my feet again.”

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