“Exploding”


After five days on Upstate/Community General Observation Unit and eight days at Sunnyside Care Center rehab, what are my conclusions?

Not much.

1. I am tired, too tired to know or care.
2. Care of the sick is given over to the least intelligent people.
3. The least intelligent people are the most rigid, inflexible people who gather in cliques of malice.
4. The poorest patients are given the worst treatment.
a. The doctor stopped by literally for a minute today because she was going to a funeral.
b. The nurse practitioner came in yesterday to tell me that she’d written prescriptions for my discharge without asking how I felt about being discharged, then left without talking to me: five minutes.
c. The nursing supervisor came in yesterday and told me that the doctor had seen me the day before: she had not.
d. The med nurse, the day before, had “put my name in the book,” requesting to see the doctor.
e. I once knew a physician who said that if I was sick enough to be in the hospital then I was sick enough to be seen every day.
5. Tomorrow I will be going home at 10:30 a.m., where my aide will meet me for three hours. Thereafter, I will be alone for 21 hours. I have no idea how I will get lunch or supper.
6. There are hundreds of thousands of people like me: women, living alone, unable to fend for themselves, and too depressed to care.
7. A neighbor called me last week to tell me that another one of our neighbors “exploded.” She died with nobody knowing or caring, and at some point—about three days into the decomposition process—she “exploded.” That’s the third person this year in our apartment building.
8. The Lord has called us to take care of each other. We’re not doing 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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