God, the County and Aide Service


In what only can be construed as an Act of God, yesterday Onondaga County reversed its decision about aides accompanying me to health care appointments.

The top three echelons in the Long Term Care Unit had decided that I could not have accompaniment because there was nothing on my Care Plan that an aide would need to do while at an appointment. They understand nothing about chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome, myalgic encephalomyelitis or systemic exertion intolerance disease. Also, they made the irrational claim that I would not need assistance ‘because I was being transported by stretcher.’ That was followed by the illogical statement that I was approved for trips to the urologist for catheter change, although nothing else.

Without assistance, I was too sick to any longer travel to appointments alone, but that comes under the heading of “safety supervision” and there is no Medicaid authorization for that. I would have to go without acupuncture, medical massage and craniosacral therapy, the only methods of treatment available to me because of the damage to my immune system.

On Friday I notified the County of my intent to file for a fair hearing. I have had five fair hearings and won the last four. On Monday the nurse case manager called to schedule an appointment. On Tuesday, she and her colleague met with me and my Power of Attorney. Late Wednesday afternoon, she called to say that I’ve been approved for nine hours a week of aide accompaniment to appointments, effective today.

I do not know what factors led the County to reverse itself: Compassion? Wisdom? The grace of God? Fear of being humiliated with another loss at fair hearing? Whatever, the deed is done. I am astounded, elated and grateful.

Let the appointments resume!

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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