Author Archives: annecwoodlen

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

Up the Hierarchy

At James Square Nursing Home in Syracuse, there is a hierarchy. On 3 South, a 34-bed rehabilitation unit, the hierarchy starts with Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA). There are supposed to be four CNAs on Day Shift, three on Evenings and … Continue reading

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One Administrator, One Nurse, One Aide and 34 Patients

This morning my glucose was 129. It hasn’t been that low in several years after having topped out around 650. In recent months it has been averaging around 350. The nurse—a floater—said that 129 was a good number; I said … Continue reading

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There is so much I want to tell you but, alas, I get too tired too fast. Today there would be the story of the man who was admitted Friday evening, and the importance of hugs, and some other stuff, … Continue reading

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A Life Wasted

A nurse practitioner and I have just been talking. Mostly we were talking about herbal teas, of which we are both aficionados. Prior to that, I was talking with a staff member of the Recreation Dept. Mostly we were talking … Continue reading

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Stop Talking and Take Action

A complaint against James Square nursing home, 918 James St., Syracuse, NY. Unit 3 South, Rm. 353. Unit 3 South is inadequately staffed. Yesterday my call bell was on for 90 minutes without being answered. This morning at 8:10 nobody … Continue reading

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A Little of This, a Little of That

Mid-line February, already. A bouquet of red, pink and white roses and carnations sit on my windowsill, backed by the relentless gray skies of Syracuse. Flowers give me such a lift. This afternoon there was a fire in a house … Continue reading

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According to the Nurse

It was noon and my lunch tray did not arrive. At 12:05 I put on my call bell to ask for my lunch. I sat in my bed and waited. At 12:10, no lunch and no nurse’s aide. I have … Continue reading

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