Coming Back to Wheeling

A funny thing happened to me on the way to dying.

I got better.

When I was admitted to Crouse Hospital six weeks ago my blood pressure (BP) was around 165/99 and my blood sugar (BS) was over 400. Now, BP is 140/89 and BS is in the 280’s. How about that? Glucose has dropped more than one hundred points. Because?

Well, the only variable that has been manipulated is the oxycodone. Every time we increase the dose, the BS and BP decrease. I have two doctors and one states flatly that oxycodone does not lower blood sugar. Well, maybe not but how about secondary characteristics, like maybe the oxycodone is causing better sleep and the improved sleep is lowering the blood sugar?

Anyway, I feel better. There are lots of hospital people who, at first contact each day, ask “How are you?” I’ve been limping along with a variety of non-answers or distractions from the question because I absolutely hate to say “I feel worse (or terrible)” but now I can cheerfully say, “I am better, thank you” and that is really nice.

I feel as if I have been in a very long, dark tunnel. I look backwards and see only darkness and puzzlement, but now there is some light.

People have been asking about my wheelchair. When last we visited the subject ( ) my power chair had just died. According to me and Mel from the Warehouse, it needs new batteries but CNY Medical, which is where I bought the chair, refused to come and service it because I was in the hospital.

I had an unpleasant little chat with Lynn, who says she’s the owner of CNY Medical (others say her husband is). Lynn said that they couldn’t come to the hospital because they wouldn’t get paid. Say what, I asked? She answered that Medicare and Medicaid were paying the hospital so they wouldn’t pay her. I replied that I am on ALC—Alternate Level of Care—and they are not paying the hospital. Nobody is paying the hospital.

And Lynn said “Oh well, Catch-22.” No, no, no, I said; I want the contact information for the person above you who decides these things. No, she said, I won’t give it to you—I’m not allowed to. To which I replied some version of “Oh crap, don’t give me that.” I am a citizen, I said, and this is a taxpayer matter. And she said some version of “Oh crap, don’t give me that.”

So then I moved on to Medicaid. My experience has been that the local Medicaid office is pretty useless. One Medicaid worker explained it to me: all they do at the Civic Center office is establish and maintain that the citizen is registered for Medicaid. Other than that they can’t do diddly-squat, like authorize a co-mingling of funds so that you can cut out the transportation-to-Rochester component and use it for local treatment—but that’s another story from a long time ago.

Anyway, I call the local Medicaid office, get transferred fourteen times, finally find my (207th) “new” case manager, and we talk. (Believe this: I have been on Medicaid for 22+ years. I think the average work-lifespan of a Medicaid case manager is about six months, so I’m actually on my 45th case manager. The most recent manager is the daughter of my first manager; Civil Service is breeding them for the job.)

This case manager—Jamie—says she knows from nothing but she’ll go talk to her supervisor and then call me back—which she actually does—and tells me that they don’t know what to do but I might try having the hospital call for prior approval. I know that’s not going to work so instead of troubling a physician, I call Prior Approval myself.

As expected, Prior Approval tells me it’s not their bailiwick. Do you have a CLUE how many times I have to explain that legally the judge says I’m a resident of Iroquois but really I’m in a bed in Crouse Hospital and CNY Medical won’t go to the hospital and Medicare and Medicaid aren’t paying and—. Well, it all just gets very tiresome. The reason I have Medicaid and no job is that it takes so much time to get your needs met through Medicaid that you don’t have time to work.

Anyway, Prior Approval gives me another phone number and tells me to call that, which I do after looking it up to see where it fits in the system. It is the New York State, Dept. of Health, Office of Health Insurance Programs. Isn’t that sad? “Health Insurance Programs.” How dreary. No pizazz. Nothing sexy or ear-catching. Well, I get to talk to Sharell and after I’ve gone through the whole rigmarole and told the whole story again then she starts giggling. Yeah, it can have that effect on a sane person.

Then Sharell at the Office of Dreary Government Business switches back and forth between three computers/programs and tells me absolutely positively with certain assurance that I AM A RESIDENT OF IROQUOIS NURSING HOME AND THEY HAVE TO PAY FOR WHEELCHAIR REPAIR. Well, shit, why didn’t I think of that?

“That’s how the system is set up,” Sharell says. “That’s your provider.” So I ask her what I should do and she says, “I don’t know—call the nursing home and talk to the administrator.” Now I am way beyond giggling—I am hysterical with laughter. My first phone call to the administrator of the Iroquois was Monday, July 8. I’ve called her multiple times ever since. She—Sonya Mosher—didn’t return the first call or any since.

So I call CNY Med and talk to Christie, who also thinks this is pretty funny, albeit frustrating. She calls the Iroquois and is routed to Vicki, the resident coordinator, who tells her that I am “not a resident,” although the judge says I am. Also, that I have been “released into the community,” which I have not since I am currently in the hospital. Further, that the Iroquois has a policy of no power wheelchairs and therefore will not repair them. Fact: It is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act for a nursing home to establish a policy banning electric wheelchairs.

So I take all the aforementioned information and send it to Nursing Home Intake @, requesting that they direct the Iroquois to authorize CNY Medical to bill them and replace my batteries.

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 Coming Back to Wheeling

  1. Jack says:

    really – still friggin around with the wheelchair thing.. they probably see ‘a light at the end of their own tunnel (so to speak) and at some point you will not be there and THEN they can say “nope definitely not a resident here”.
    – Perhaps or rather probably, they’re just waiting until you ARE no longer there and then that wheelchair problem will no longer be there issue and so they’re pittering around until that is indeed the case. Seems to me Anne they Resent having to DO Anything for you at this juncture. They resent you for going to the judge – for your blog and resent doing anything at all FOR you except any means of revenge.
    I’m Just throwing out guesses here of course, but I’d bet a month’s pay they see you as unappreciative rude down right mean and pushy..
    and thus are pushing back.

    You know how one can tell this is a true accounting of events?
    1. Because it is so far Past stupid, it’s beyond believable fiction. and of course there’s reason
    2. I’ve seen it – and I’m so very ashamed to write, I’ve even participated in something similiar in a California Hospital in my youthful and much darker center-of-the-world days.
    As a patient I was moved and was placed purposely in a room with a ‘complainer’. I was by the door and the ‘problem child’ was as far away as possible from the door. I – now both of us – but just me – was visited that first day by nurses who weren’t asigned to that room, including (yes) the Head of Nursing for the hospital. All asked how I was getting along with ” ” as they would point in the other patient’s direction. I said no worries. And there was a clear “Go Get ’em!” vibe from each and everyone.
    And I…
    so very self absorbed took my cue and without mercy.
    I let no seemingly-paranoid statement go by without comment. I became the words they were thinking. so cruel in fact that their ‘problem child’ (their term) left AMA within 24 hours.
    and I’m truly ashamed that I smiled with them as one by one they entered the now single-room and thanked me. Yes the Head of Nursing peeked her head in as well and nodded in pleasure. and why? Because a sick, scared elderly person had been afraid. And alone and felt if they didn’t speak up for themselves no one would, who had become increasingly aggressive verbally as their needs were being taken care of less and less. – and I with my younger and louder voice had shut down an older and more frightened voice. A part of me knew it was wrong – just as they must have known as well. Just as I’m sure those who turn on their heels and walk out on you mid-sentence must know it as well. That people feel vulnerable in a hospital. That a part from physical illness comes some fear of mortality. That the older we get the closer our view of it and it is wrong and it is cruel and I’m so sorry Anne.
    And i was Cheered for this. And I myself was pleased. I had down what they could not do themselves – Said the words they had wanted to say – although just because they themselves didn’t say the words, it wasn’t as if they weren’t expressed. The staff’s resentment was expressed and known to that patient at every chance and at every turn possible.
    The next day they removed me from the now quiet double room into a private room.. I guess at that point they were out of problem children to bunk me with.
    Those are the moments when people more resemble pack animals than Soul filled human beings. Just as with packs of wolves.. sometimes we too do and allow things to be done as a group that we would rarely do on our own.

    What is wrong with that Wheelchair Anne? Do you know? In any of your calls have you been given a quote that ‘they’ should be paying but aren’t? If you wouldn’t mind, would you post the amount or the look-at price at the very least? I’m thinking it wasn’t brought up to the judge, the one who refused to be a part of their hospital ‘gang’ – I’m thinking he would have ordered them too if he could have. I like everyone, must live with the bad decisions as actions of my life. There’s no changing yesterday. But there is a today.
    and if God wills it a tomorrow too. So Maybe.. maybe ‘we’ – your readers, dare i say fans even? Anne Fans!. 🙂 I’d like to help and I don’t think I’m alone with that. At the very least you should have your chair to get around! Would it be in that Judge’s jurisdiction to help Make them – Or maybe just see if it’s something we can help get done. I’d need to know prices and the ‘who fixes it and fixes ‘what’ if you do know – or even who to call to come look at it. Need the details tho to see what “I” could do on my end, and perhaps if you knew the costs – The Look-at-it Price and then a round about fix-it number. Perhaps as a group we can get that done and one worry off your plate. Sounds plausible to me – whatcha think Anne?
    – *Anne Readers? What do You People think? A little here a bit there? Then together the women can at least get some mobility again!

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