On Short Final


Most people don’t know when they’re going to die; some do.  Take my mom, for instance.  The doctor told her she needed to go into the hospital for treatment of her heart and kidneys, and she said, “Um, no, I don’t think so.”  So the physician ordered Hospice care and Mom died six months later.  She was 92.

            I am going to be 64 on Saturday, and I got my latest blood work yesterday.  The chronic kidney infection has gotten worse, which is raising the body’s stress level, which is raising the glucose level.  The glucose level should be below 120; mine’s averaging out at 232.  The increased glucose level is putting additional strain on the kidneys, so the cycle of failure is increasing.

            I am told that the first symptom that you’re heading into a diabetic coma is fatigue.  Hm-m-m, let’s see:  I am so tired that I fall asleep around 8:00 p.m.  Take a nap in the morning and another one in the afternoon.  Only leave the apartment about once every other day.

            So it looks like I am, in airplane pilot’s language, on “short final.”  That’s scary as hell.  Being on the ground is okay, as is being airborne.  It’s that crunch when you leave the air and touch down on the land that can hurt a lot.

            What my mom did was get totally gorked on painkillers.  That’s not an option for me.  Like everything else, I gave to go with my eyes wide open.

            My mind races skittishly from one thing to another.  What needs to be done?  What’s left undone?  What matters?  What is, on an eternal scale, a total waste of time?  And what is the biology and psychology of crying?  Why do we cry at some things and not others?

            My aide’s husband did not cry when she miscarried their first child, or when she was deathly ill, or when his mother died.  He cried when Dale Earnhardt died.  Go figure.

            Honestly?  I’m too tired to care.  I’m going back to bed.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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One Response to On Short Final

  1. Jack says:

    How are you doing these days? your piece on Medicaid transportation made me smile.
    i though “ah.. it really isn’t JUST me!”
    So for that.. and I’m huessing there’s many more smiles you’ve brought to this world..

    I’ll be Sending prayers your way.
    and if you don’t mind, I’ll have a Mass said in your honor as well.
    Peace Be With You my friend.

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