Last year my Father, Jack Caple, passed on to glory. He took three deep breaths and off he went. I got to watch the angels come and escort him into glory. I will never forget that amazing encounter. However, during the last months of Dad’s life, I faced some of the most devastating storms I have ever had in my life.
Dad kept falling and we were in the process of acquiring an emergency call button to be worn around his neck, when I couldn’t get in touch with him one day. Deeply concerned, I asked his neighbor to check on him, and Dad was found lying in his driveway in the blazing Arizona sun. He had been there for hours. He was taken in, treated for his heart and an infection, then was sent home.
After another fall and trip to the hospital, I found out that he had been seen in the emergency room and they let him go! Fighting back anger and disbelief, I had him readmitted. Soon they were performing a heart procedure, so I hoped things were back on track, but this was far from the case.
Dad was sent to rehab again. One day, I found him in the exercise room throwing up in a trash can and unable to speak. The staff said he was not eating very well. When I questioned him, he finally admitted he didn’t like the food. So, I met with the kitchen staff and asked them to put things he liked on his tray. After I fed him myself for a few days, I thought he was stable. Afterwards, I had to go out of town again, but on my return, everything was flipped upside down.
I went to visit and immediately noticed that he was wearing the same clothes I had put on him when I left four days earlier, and he was filthy – his face smeared with drool and liquid. Blood was on his hands and sheets, and again, he wasn’t speaking. I tried to coax a nod from him as he stared straight ahead. His food tray was untouched. When I asked him if he had eaten, he motioned “no”. When I asked him if he had eaten since I was there four days previously, he again shook his head side to side. I thought I was going to freak out!
I found he had been spitting out his medication into the sheets! Since no one checked on him for four days, they hadn’t noticed. Plus, he was wearing a filthy diaper, and his catheter was causing a red rash and infection. While I waited for the nurse, I asked, “Daddy, why have you been laying here alone for four days without even the TV to keep you company?” He just stared. I picked up the remote, aimed it at the TV, and pushed the power button, but nothing happened. That’s when I discovered the remote had no batteries in it!
I tried to confront the staff peacefully. Their response was, “We just changed his clothes and gave him a shower.” “Really, then why does he have on the same clothes that he had on four days ago; and didn’t anyone think it was strange that he hasn’t touched his tray for four days?” I continued. Their response was, “Maybe he wasn’t hungry.” At this point my Christianity was being truly tested. I continued on by pointing out the medication in the sheets, the infection, the diaper, and most of all, his silence. The head nurse replied, “Maybe he is just mad he is here?”
So, I demanded they test him to find out what was wrong. They resisted, insisting there was nothing wrong with him. Two attendants began snickering at me and rolling their eyes. The old Kate finally came out. “If you roll your eyes at me one more time,” I said menacingly to one of the girls, “I’ll rip your face off.”
Finally, agreeing to test him, I insisted that he be cleaned, changed, and fed. The head nurse made one last attempt to justify their actions. “We have taken good care of your Father,” she said defiantly. “Oh yeah?” I fired back. “Is that why he laid here for four days filthy, hungry, and alone without even a TV to watch?” One attendant chimed in, “His TV has been on the whole time!” That audacious lie was the straw that broke this camel’s back. I literally roared, “How’s that when there are no batteries in the remote?!”
Suddenly, I broke down crying. I even surprised myself because I never cry – so I knew I was done. The good news was that my unusual emotional response was a blessing for those women. If I hadn’t been crying they would probably have been lying on the floor bleeding to death.
After everything was said and done, I left totally exhausted. One hour later, they called, and Dad was being rushed to the hospital. The tests revealed an infection that was so bad, it could have killed him.
This was only the beginning of the storm…there was much worse yet to come. Next time, I will tell you the rest of this story and explain why this was happening!
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