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

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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Euthanize the Administrators First


Unit 3 South at James Square has 34 beds. On the day shift, it is supposed to have four aides. Today it only has two aides to toilet, serve breakfast, and do clean-up for 17 patients each. It is impossible. … Continue reading

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One-hour Wait for Pain Meds


At 7:35 p.m. on Monday evening I pressed the call bell and asked the Philippian aide to ask the nurse for pain meds. She left, came back, and said the nurse was on break. At 7:55 p.m., I called her … Continue reading

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Depression or SEID?


Good morning, again! There is great good news, and that is that I am feeling better. Why? Two reasons, we think. First, I have been on bedrest for six months. Remember, this disease—S.E.I.D.—originally was called chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), then … Continue reading

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Getting on Roz’s Shit List


The day dawned bright and early at 7:15 a.m. I pressed the call bell to ask for my lightbox but there was no point. This is James Square nursing home where they do not answer call bells from 7:00 a.m. … Continue reading

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Snow Day


About 75% of the nurses aides who work at James Square Nursing Home and live on the south-side have not come to work today. About 75% of the housekeeping staff, who are foreign-born, have come to work.

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SEID/ME/CFS “New Working Group includes representatives from 23 institutes . . .”


Dear Ms. Woodlen: We are responding to your email to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) concerning myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). You requested an update on the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) plans to launch a … Continue reading

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