Which Would You Choose?


So tell me, Ms Woodlen, how are you coming along with traditional medicine?

!+@_#)$(%*^& feckin’ Goddamn American medical industry! And, no, I am not taking the name of God in vain. I am calling for God to damn all of American medicine, if he hasn’t already.

Goodness, Ms Woodlen, whatever has you in such a fit of pique?

Me? I’ll tell you what! Two or three months ago I went to see the only immunologist in Onondaga County. He works out of the Rheumatology Clinic at SUNY Upstate Medical Center. He ascertained that I do not have lupus, which I already knew. I asked to be referred to another doctor in the Rheumatology Clinic who happens to be the only physician I have been able to find who actually claims to treat chronic fatigue syndrome.

The immunologist refused to do the referral, insisting that I must see their best neuroimmunologist instead, who would be available in about six months. I was willing to see the second-best if it was sometime in this lifetime, but the immunologist refused.

So I waited a while and was scheduled with another neurologist, who knows absolutely nothing about myalgic encephalomyelitis (chronic fatigue immune deficiency syndrome). I called the Neurology Dept. and said but-but-but I was supposed to be scheduled with the guy who actually knows something.

No, said the secretary, your referring diagnoses don’t match the neuroimmunologist’s accepting diagnoses. WTF, I said! Lemme talk to your supervisor. And her supervisor said exactly the same thing: “The Department” won’t schedule me with him.

So I go on Upstate’s MyChart, which the immunologist had asked me to use instead of his email, and I send him a message that “The Department” won’t schedule me with the neuroimmunologist, and what does he want to do next. The note on the message page says I will get a reply within 2 business days.

After waiting 7 business days, I send the immunologist a direct email with a second request. Today he replies that I should see the rheumatologist whom I asked to see in the first place. I call her office. After a long wait they tell me that she’s not taking any new patients. But the immunologist said . . ., I say, and they reply ‘she’s not taking any new patients.’ So that’s the end of that.

Then the immunologist sends me another email asking if I want to see the rheumatologist. Hell, yes, is the gist of my reply. Then I ask him again why he referred me to a neuroimmunologist who won’t see me.

Meanwhile, he referred me to the Upstate Joselin Center for diabetes. It took a month and a half to get an appointment. I presented as a new patient with a blood sugar of 570. They said they would look into the relationship between CFIDS and blood sugar . . . and I should wait another month and a half with my glucose levels spiking over 600 before they would get around to seeing me again.

Um, Ms Woodlen, you seem to be getting nowhere with traditional medicine. How are you doing with alternative treatments?

Oh, wow, let me tell you—I just had this Reiki treatment from one of the Reiki ladies from Crouse Hospital. She came to my home and did Reiki for free. She also treated me with essential oils, and spent an hour and a half visiting with me. She says she has discovered that she is a psychic healer. She said there was a lot of “sludge” in my head; we all have it, but we carry it in different places. And she has angels and felt my angels all around her. She says I will get better. I certainly felt better after the Reiki treatment—felt all warm and lazy and smiley. Sludge removal is a very good thing.

This morning I had an LED treatment and chiropractic adjustment from a practitioner who also comes to my home to treat me. I was feeling pretty grim before he got here. You know, I had the total CFIDS crash a week ago. I’m still not fully recovered, nevertheless, yesterday I took a shower, went out for a craniosacral treatment, came home for psychotherapy, went out for acupuncture, came home for a visit with a friend, then watched the S.U. basketball game on television—until I fell asleep. I knew it was way too much physical and psychological activity. What I should have done was half what I did, and take a nap. I knew I’d pay for it today, and I did.

But here’s the thing, yesterday the physical therapist who does the craniosacral therapy was asking me questions and we realized that the CFIDS crashes are far less frequent, far less severe, and far less lengthy. Wow—how about that! I’m getting better! And the homeopath called just to check and make sure I’m doing okay. He wants me to call or email him a couple times a week. Tomorrow I go see the lymph massage lady, and my Swedish massager comes back from vacation this weekend.

So, let’s see how it all adds up: In two and a half months, traditional medicine has (a) ruled out a disease I knew I didn’t have; (b) done nothing else; (c) failed to even schedule me for appointments.

Alternative medicine started seeing me within days of me getting out of the hospital on Dec. 27. The psychologist, chiropractor, Swedish massager and homeopath all treat me at home. The psychologist comes twice a week; all the others come once a week. I go out to the acupuncturist twice a week and the lymph massager once a week. Three of the people are being paid by Medicare/Medicaid. Two are seeing me private-pay and are charging me half-price. One isn’t charging me at all.

I don’t make the news; I just report it.

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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