Time Yet for a Hundred . . .


Five o’clock Saturday afternoon and it’s snowing again. We’ve had 128 inches—that would be ten and three-quarter feet—which breaks the records for Normal Average to Date, This Time Last Season, and Normal Season’s Average, leaving us only the All Time Season Snowfall Record (this courtesy of the Golden Snowball Award record-keeping). The record is 192 inches 21 years ago, but we are in no danger of touching that. It is March 15, and there is reassurance that soon it will be over.

Today was the St. Patrick’s Day parade and I decided the weather was too bad to go. This was confirmed when I tuned it in on television and there were raindrops on the camera lens. I mean, seriously, there’s a time to stay home.

Last night Syracuse University basketball lost to North Carolina State in the first day of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. Lost by three friggin’ points in the last two minutes of play. Ouch, ouch, ouch.

Two nights earlier, George Donaldson died of a massive heart attack. George was a member of Celtic Thunder, an awesome singing group that traveled from Australia to California and gave wonderful performances. I saw them at the Landmark Theater a couple years ago. Donaldson had a great voice, boisterous joy, and a lot of sex appeal. He was only 46 years old. There’s a shocker, isn’t it? Boom—you’re dead!

And the hunt goes on for Malaysia Flight 370. Twenty-four-hour news coverage fed each day by two or three words, or a single sighting of an object in the water. We don’t know. Plain and simple, a 500,000 lb. airplane containing 239 people has vanished off the planet without a trace. Boom—you’re disappeared! Lot of sudden endings going on here.

So, what’s it all about, Alfie? My shortness of breath is better than a week ago but worse than two weeks ago. Supposed to have 24-hour oximetry a week ago, but it seems that nothing works anymore. The doctor’s office has to fax the scrip to the home respiratory service but, despite two follow-up phone calls to the office, they still haven’t done it.

Terribly depressed these past couple of days or, as my therapist pointed out, “powerless.”

I spent an hour and a half on the phone trying to get my wheelchair repaired. Many phone calls ultimately led to the woman who works in the Wheelchair Clinic at Upstate Medical Center. She alluded to Medicare changing things over the summer, and told me to call an ombudswoman in Brooklyn, who referred me to another woman in Albany. The Albany woman said her company is based in California and all they do is repair power wheelchairs. She said a technician would drive from Albany to Syracuse to do an assessment. And, dear reader, you’re going to pay the mileage. Are there local companies who can do the job? Yes. Why won’t they? I don’t know. They haven’t called back.

I spent another hour and a half on the phone trying to get home health aides. After two and a half months, it still hasn’t happened. I was referred to another agency, with which I was enrolled for about ten years. The agency said I had to have a home visit. The case manager came, sat in my grandmother’s rocking chair, and spent forty minutes re-reading the rules and regulations from a loose-leaf notebook that she planned to leave with me anyway.

The Office of Aging told me there was somebody who could do my grocery shopping. The woman came, sat in my grandmother’s rocking chair, and babbled endlessly about herself. Then she said she could go shopping for me on Monday afternoon or Saturday morning. Monday afternoon’s I have a standing doctor’s appointment; Saturday morning is church. The woman from the Office of Aging said she could get me someone whose schedule matched mine. She said that five days ago and I haven’t heard from her since.

Again, I got left in a doctor’s waiting room for an hour and a half by the transportation company. The rumor is that the dispatcher is incompetent but keeps her job because the boss has a “special interest” in her. Her keeping me sitting up when I was no longer able resulted in me getting so sick that I had to cancel my next appointment. Medicaid transportation is so bad that you have to stay home from doctor’s appointments.

I couldn’t get out of my building on Thursday because the management got the driveway plowed then the city came by and plowed two feet of snow from the street into the driveway entrance and the management looked out of the window and did nothing. The medical transportation driver—a good and experienced man—said “Hold on. I don’t know if we’re going to make this or not.”

Glucometer strips come in a box containing two bottles, each of which contains a hundred strips. I finished the first bottle and started on the second. On my next trip to the grocery store, I went to the pharmacy for a refill. Isn’t that what normal, responsible adults do? No, if you’re poor then you are told that the government won’t let you refill the prescription for strips for another ten days. WTF? Do they think I’m going to sell them on the black market? Because I am poor because I am sick I am subjected to ludicrous government controls that make my life harder.

And then there’s the dorkhead who reads this blog and tells me to stop whining. Well, if I could stand up without getting short of breath then maybe I’d stop whining. If I could get somebody to help me at home then maybe I’d stop whining. If I could get timely transportation then maybe . . .

If good men didn’t die young, and good basketball teams didn’t lose, and the snow would just stop falling and let the sun come out then maybe I’d . . .

Or maybe not.

I do the best I can. It’s not good enough.

It’s not whining. It’s depression because I am utterly without power.

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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