It’s about the Coffee

Sorry, just discovered I re-posted the first half of this.

Thomas Falci just came to my bedside with a medical student. I refused to shake his hand but did shake hers. I’m not a hypocrite. Rude, maybe, but not a hypocrite.

I asked him to sit down (and be on eye-level with me). He refused, choosing instead to tower over me.

I told Falci that I’d written things about him and offered to send them to him if he would give me his email address. Falci declined, saying he doesn’t give his email to patients. So, to the best of my ability, I told him what I’d written about him. I do not gossip behind a person’s back; what I write about is what you can count on me saying to your face.

I covered Falci’s use of “we,” the matter of the DNR, interviewing and reporting without noting the patient had high blood sugar and executive dysfunction learning disorder. He admitted that he did not know what executive dysfunction is. Throughout, he kept harping on the fact that I don’t have a terminal illness. I’ve had a DNR since sometime in the 1990’s. You don’t wait till you’re dying to buy life insurance. I detailed for Falci the history of diagnosis and treatment of the diabetes insipidus. (And, by the way, today my creatinine is up to 1.6 and GFR is down to 34–renal failure is getting worse.)

I do believe I began, in the manner of clearing my throat, by telling him he’s a moron. At the end, he asked if there was anything he could do for me. I said “Yes, stay away from me.”

And hopefully that’s the end of that. Dr. Ronald Fish, psychologist, sees me five days a week. He is not a moron. I welcome him. I am receiving competent psychological care, thank you very much.

When you give a man a prescription pad, he stops listening to the patient.

I started accepting ephedra short-acting insulin, and Lantus long-acting insulin and heparin to prevent blood clots—and what’s up with that?  Imagine if we all lived our lives based on fear of what might happen?  Nobody would buy a house or car or change jobs.  Oh well.  I don’t care.  Let them give me their drugs.

I had a pain in my shoulder for a while but it wasn’t too severe.  Then chest pain, which was severe but didn’t last long.  Then jaw pain that I referenced to a dental problem.  Then the doctor came and ordered an EKG, ECHO and cardiology consult.  Then Stevie said, “Those are the same symptoms you had when you first started taking insulin [at this dosage level].”  Last glucose was around 267.

The drugs have so antagonized my nervous system that I’m taking Xanax to keep from yelling at the staff. And oxycodone for the jaw pain, which really hurt.  So now I’m just like everybody else:  I take drugs.  Five of them.  It makes the doctors and nurses feel better.


There continue to be no beds available in local nursing homes.

On Monday Crouse Hospital started renovating its kitchen to put in the same kind of service that St. Joseph’s uses.  Currently, Crouse has a woman walk into your room in the morning with a handheld thingie.  She tells you what’s for lunch and then punches in your choices, likewise for supper and breakfast.

Some of the problems with this include:  what if you are in the shower or sleeping when they come?  Will they come back?  Do you need to call somebody?  Who?  In my recently addled state of mind, by the time the person gets to the end of the list of four or five choices, I’ve forgotten the first choice.  And you have to pull the information out of the dietary person, which is a problem if you’ve got a woman who would rather be home in bed.

To the best of my knowledge, the new plan will consist of paper menus that will hang around until you’re ready to look at them, and they will list all your choices without you having to beg, and the choices will stay put no matter how bad your memory gets.  Then you call Dietary and place your order.

This renovation project (I’m guessing that all this renovation is not necessary just for the new ordering plan but that they needed to upgrade their kitchen and are doing it all at once) is estimated to be completed in early July.  For those of you who have renovated your kitchen, you know this is a major challenge.  In a hospital, you can’t send out for Chinese for five hundred people.

They basically aren’t cooking in the kitchen anymore.  Instead of sausage or bacon every day, you get bacon Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and sausage Tuesday and Thursday.  Instead of fresh tossed salad you get soup, probably out of a can.  Fresh fruit has been replaced by those little plastic cups of applesauce or fruit cocktail.  Instead of women with knives slicing your oranges I now picture a guy with a carton tossing plastic thingies on trays as they come down an assembly line.

Well, no matter.  Patients and staff are hunkered down in this crisis and will get through it together.

The only thing that is problematic is that I order two coffees and two creamers for every meal, and that’s what I used to get.  Now, I place the same order but consistently get two coffees and one creamer.

You can mess with the meatloaf, take away the fresh cantaloupe, and discontinue the boiled and poached eggs, but when you screw up my coffee, babe, you’re pushing the limits of what a righteous woman can be expected to tolerate.  It is, however, a far cry from St. Joe’s Unit 3-6 where they gave you instant Sanka made with tap water and called it coffee.

At Crouse, my two coffees can share one creamer.

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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