My first real job after I graduated from college my first go around, was working as an investigator of adult abuse. The position worked out of the County Prosecutor’s office. I would investigate alleged abuse in six counties- ranging from medium-size cities to back woods shacks. My first client was harming herself- a malnourished woman who had 5 dogs in her yard and house. The house had no working toilet, no air of any kind throughout the place. That was a hot summer.
I didn’t go alone my first visit. My supervisor brought me along. As we pulled up to the little house we were greeted by lots of small yapping dogs. They had no water and looked pretty dirty. I gave the dogs some water and then followed my boss into the house to meet Miss Ada. The smell nearly knocked me over, the smell of human waste and animal waste was overwhelming. I had to go back outside to get some fresh air. Then I prepared myself then went back inside to conduct an interview. Miss Ada was very confused, filthy, and looked malnourished and concerned for her dogs. Ada had no food in the house except dog food which she was feeding to the dogs as well as herself. A neighbor had brought over the bag a few weeks earlier and made the call to our office. So the first day was mainly to see what needed to be done.
A call was put into the local clinic, which used resident doctor’s who were first or second year doctors. Dr. C. arrived, she was young like me and was also overwhelmed by the smell, she walked in the out caught her breath, and went back inside and attempted to conduct a physical. She recommended Miss Ada be admitted to the local hospital and then possible place her in a nursing home. We were in luck there was space at the county home. The neighbor would take care of the dogs, family members called and appropriate care of all would happen. I stopped by the County home a few days later. Ada was clean, she was much more aware but still struggled with confusion. She seemed to be happy to be around other people and laughed and smiled a lot during my visit. I spoke with the Dr. who said, she appeared to have dementia, was very malnourished, high blood pressure, and possibly cancer. Her family didn’t live close by, and didn’t express any interest in visiting or helping her get back home. Miss Ada died a couple of months later. I am grateful she didn’t die alone. She had made friends. Miss Ada was my first client.
My next case I was doing by myself I was told it was just a wellness check. It was in the backwoods of a local county. The house (which was more of a shack) was down a dirt road. I passed the house of the neighbor Jed who called, he was a kindly older gentleman who was concerned about the twin brothers living in the shack with their mother after the father had passed away a couple of month prior to my visit. The twin brothers who were 73 and named Woodrow and Wilson. Both had fought in WWII, never married and were not especially bright. Wilson was the brighter of the two and was the driver of the family. But he was suffering from colon cancer, the same disease that killed his father. Wilson’s mother refused to let the father get treatment for his cancer.
What this case had a perpetrator?
Jed shared background on the family. They had been in the cattle business, their home had no running water or indoor plumbing. He would check on the family and pick up items from the store for them from time to time. He told me lots of paper towels. I gave him a curious look and he just said, yes they always want at least a dozen rolls of paper towels every time I go to the store for them. Jeb didn’t come with me because he wanted to stay neutral about the call. So I drove down the road in my cute little Subaru Justy to their house. I grab my notebook and a pen. Then went and knocked on the door. I heard people inside the house and identified myself and was told they were coming. I was greeted by less than 5 feet tall Edith the 93- year-old mother of the twins who held a shotgun at me and asked what I wanted and then told me they were all fine and to get the hell off their property.
I was only 22 and this was before cellphones so I got back in my car and drove back to Jeb’s house and called the local sheriff. Up to this point in life I had prided myself as being able to get along with everyone. I had a ways to go with Edith. I met the Sheriff at Jeb’s house. He knew the family well. The Sheriff had to pull over Wilson for driving with expired plates on the family car a year earlier. He just gave the family a warning, which they took care of. The Sheriff went with me to their house. Explained the situation, and Edith allowed me to come in and visit with her and her sons. I told her I would like to make doctor appointments for the whole family including her. She told me they were all fine. So the Sheriff had to tell Edith that I would be making doctor appointments and that he would follow up to make sure they went.
On the way back to my office I stopped by the nursing home where Edith’s husband had been a patient and found out Wilson had also been a patient and they were very concerned about his health. (This was why Edith didn’t want Wilson to go to the doctor’s because she knew Wilson needed more care than what she could provide.) I made doctor appointments for the whole family. I also knew that if Wilson needed additional care after surgery and treatment for cancer I would have a fight on hand with Edith.
The day arrived for their appointments I met them at the office. Woodrow was healthy for the most part. His cholesterol was a little high but nothing too bad. Wilson had colon cancer, which I already knew about and needed treatment. Edith’s cholesterol was also a little high. Edith pulled me aside and asked if they bought a mobile home and got indoor plumbing could Wilson stay home. I said, it would need to be discussed with the doctor but if they were able to do that, and services could be provided at home after some time recuperating in the nursing home I would do what I could to help them. (I had my doubts they could afford a new home with plumbing.)
(I am skipping the part about having to get a court order for Wilson to recuperate in the nursing home.) Wilson had his surgery, and made lots of progress while in the nursing home. I got a phone call from Jeb one day about 5 months after our original visit it was a message from Edith wanting me to come visit. Wilson would be released the next day, and she wanted me to come and see if their place was appropriate.
I was shocked when I arrived to their homestead. A brand new mobile home with air conditioning, running water and Edith said quite excitedly, indoor plumbing. Jeb picked up Wilson from the Nursing home and home health care arrangements were made. I spoke to Jeb about the new home. He told me Edith picked out what she wanted and then went to a realtor and bought the home with cash. Over $50,000 cash for the home and getting plumbing connected. When I asked Edith about the new home and buying it she told me she had been saving the money for a rainy day in case they needed it.
Edith lived a couple more years in her new home. Since she had been in control of the family’s finances, Woodrow nor Wilson had any idea of how to manage money. So Jeb helped out and then a court appointed attorney took over. After their mother passed, the boys (men) decided they wanted to live at the nursing home full-time so they could be around other people and be in town instead of out in the country. They were always laughing and smiling whenever I stopped by to say hi.