What is Wrong with this Woman? Recovering from Chronic Fatigue and Depression (Part VII)


So we were talking about Gerry Edwards, who had traveled around the world with the Moonies, getting an up-close-and-personal look at the major religions of the world, not to mention a really bad case of gastrointestinal distress from the buffet of fresh fruits and vegetables at the airport in Israel.  Later, back home, he created a yoga center, then he went to medical school because he wanted to know more about the mind/body connection.  It helps if people are grownups before they go to medical school.  Otherwise, if they go in lock-step from high school to college to medical school, they lack the ability to stand up to any of the bullshit being taught to them.  Independent thinking is not taught in medical school.

The chief of hospitalists didn’t know what to do with me—terribly sick but unable to take drugs—so he sent Gerry, his partner, in to talk to me.  Gerry knew stuff that was out of the box.  He sat in the low, vinyl-covered chair in the corner of the room and talked to me about homeopathy.

Homeopathy is based on the premise that like-treats-like.  American medicine, like American military policy, depends on fighting with the biggest, most expensive guns you can make.  Attack the invaders!  Homeopathy sends in the teeniest, tiniest stuff they can make.  The smallest possible amount of animal, vegetable or mineral product is diluted, and then diluted again, and continually diluted until there is nothing left of it except its essential energy.  It is like putting one drop of product in a swimming pool of water.  By the end of dilution and at the point of digestion there is nothing left but the energy of the original product.  If you took this stuff to the lab and analyzed it, you would find it contains nothing.

This all sounds crazy bizarre but it works.  According to Dr. Gerry Edwards, sitting in the corner of my hospital room, a researcher went to Boston—the Mecca of the American medical industry—and sought out the top researcher in the country.  Together they designed a research project that would definitively reveal whether or not homeopathy worked.

The results of the research were that homeopathy does work but, of course, the American medical industry—driven hard by the pharmaceutical industry, which is driven equally hard by the profit motive—wasn’t about to accept that.  They picked at and complained about the research design so the two researchers got together again and created a new research protocol that would address every objection that had been raised.

The results were the same:  homeopathy does work.  In fact, according to Gerry,  a Very Important Person speaking at a Major Medical Conference, said, “You have two choices:  either you can believe that homeopathy works, or that double-blind controlled studies don’t.”

Well, this was all very interesting theory but get serious:  I was in a Catholic hospital in New York State and it wasn’t going to happen.  So Gerry and I talked about this and that, and got to be friends.  He called me Queenie because, he said, sitting up in that hospital bed I looked regal.  Or maybe it was arrogant.  Anyway, the bed cost $3000 and would make anybody seem imperious.  Yes, really and truly and seriously—hospitals are now buying $3000 beds.  They do not primarily serve the patient; they serve the nursing staff.  Would your job be easier if you had $3000 worth of technology with which to do it?  The money is spent on technology, not employing higher quality staff.

So I got out of the hospital, went home, and life went on.  Then my glucose hit 584, I overdosed on insulin, and ended up on inpatient psychiatry, suffering the pure hell of psychiatric abuse.  The chief of hospitalists who had committed me never came to see me, but Gerry did.  Gerry was on hospital duty and every day he would come into my prison—I was not allowed to see anyone else.  I was barred from receiving visitors in my room and I was too sick to stand up and go to the Community Room.  Under Levine’s rule, even the man who held my Power of Attorney was not allowed to see me.

Gerry, being an actual real live doctor, and functioning in the capacity of primary physician for a patient with a lot of physical ills, could get to see me.  He would come every day and stay for about an hour.  He couldn’t leave me alone in that hell.  He would stand up and head for the door three or four times before he would finally get out the door.  I had been prescribed a regular diet but was being restricted to a diabetic diet or no food at all.  When Gerry went to the nursing station and checked my chart, he found that Levine had written a note that no other doctor was allowed to write orders for me.  I was Levine’s prisoner.

So Gerry and I talked every day.  The first time he leaned down and hugged me, I broke down sobbing.  After that, physical contact became standard.  He would hold my hand or leg or whatever part of me happened to be convenient, and I would cry and cry and cry.  Had it not been for Dr. Gerry Edward’s presence, I never would have survived Levine’s abuse.

I finally got out of inpatient psychiatry through some strange combination of the law, the Mental Hygiene Legal Service, and my own wits and willingness to confront Levine.  In the final discharge planning meeting with the chief, my Power of Attorney, and several others, I went one-on-one with Levine until he finally got up and walked out of the room, which simply isn’t done by a physician trying to discharge his own patient.

I filed a complaint against Levine with the NYS Dept. of Health, Office of Professional Medical Conduct, which said what they always do about physicians:  he didn’t do anything wrong.  I also filed a complaint with Patient Relations.  The woman from there sat in my room, saw what was happening, and personally went to the hospital’s medical director to alert her to the problems with Levine.  It all happened behind the locked doors of inpatient psychiatry and nobody—including the medical director—knows what’s really going on.

They don’t want to know.

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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