Tina Taylor said she never saw it coming. Neither did her younger brother, Clyde J. Coulter.
Taylor and Coulter were blindsided.
Six years ago they were the children of a physically powerful man – a cattleman, farmer and avid outdoorsmen. Clyde G. Coulter stood 6-foot-2, tipped the scales at 300 pounds and wielded a pair of sledgehammer hands shaped by a lifetime of hard work at his Rosedale farm. His demeanor was at times as firm as his hands, as he reared eight children on tough love with an emphasis on the love.
Clyde G. Coulter, then 66, could handle a hunting rifle with deadly accuracy, hook his share of monster fish and determine whether a cow was sick with a mere glance.
Then it all vanished.
“He began to lose his balance when he walked,” recalled Taylor, 52 and the eldest of Coulter’s eight children. “So we took him to a neurologist.”
Doctors diagnosed Coulter with acoustic neuroma after finding a non-cancerous tumor growing on a nerve that connects his ear to his brain. They scheduled surgery.
“They said a couple days after the surgery he’d be back to do the same things he did before,” Taylor said with a sigh. “But it never worked out that way. He was never the same again.”
Shortly after the surgery a staph infection attacked Coulter, placing him in ICU for the next four months. Suddenly, he was battling for his life.
“Everything stopped,” said Clyde J. Coulter, 47 and a civilian worker at Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City. “No hunting, no fishing, no nothing. We took shifts at the hospital, and even though we couldn’t be in the room with him, we camped out in a small waiting room outside of ICU.”
Clyde Coulter left the hospital weighing 142 pounds and seemingly destined for a nursing home. High blood pressure and diabetes only complicated the balance of medication needed to keep his neurological problems in check. Doctors recommended Coulter be institutionalized because of his need for 24-hour care.
Coulter’s children faced a dilemma – one that will challenge an increasing number of Oklahomans in the coming years as baby boomers grow older.
“I told them he wasn’t going into a nursing home,” Taylor said.