Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Waiting Room

I am breaking away from Grandma Strange for a moment.

I have to share my visit to the doctor. I have a disease. It is called COPD. Most of you would know it by emphysema. I have several doctors that treat me. People with COPD spend many hours with doctors. Have you sat & watched the action in a waiting room? I forgot my book to read, so I had nothing to do while waiting.

Patients sit there tapping their foot & gazing off in space. The cell phones ring, some are answered & some are ignored. Each phone plays a different song. Waiting rooms could be compared to an elevator. Usually no one talks or even shares a smile of acknowledgement that other people exist sitting next to them.

There is a woman sitting across from me. She is looking at a book but never turns a page. She might as well be looking at it upside down. She watches the other patients & when they look back, she pretends to be reading the book. Next to her is an older man. He is accompanied by a younger caregiver type person. He, in between coughing up a lung, is telling her how incompetent she is & she cannot even prepare toast for him without burning it. Over in the corner is a working type guy. He is dressed in heavy duty work clothes. He is one of those guys that looks your body up & down as he talks to you. He never meets your eyes, just your body parts. I sincerely want to stare back at him, but I don't want to encourage him to follow me home.

I have the utmost respect for doctors. I don't know how they can listen to people's ailments all day. I always had a strict rule for myself, don't ever ask an old person how they are, because they will tell you. I have now become one of those "older people". I am blessed with a disease that doesn't allow me to talk as I did when I was healthy. I know many people appreciate that.
I simply run out of air. I don't have enough air to breathe & talk at the same time.

Doc must be running behind today. He is a wonderful doctor & I love him or I would not be sitting here without a book to read. I might go borrow the book the lady across from me is not reading.

O.K. gazing it is...........My gazing takes me to the see thru sliding glass window to the receptionist area. The glass is adorned with various credit cards that will be accepted as payment. I see many new drugs available. (for "whatever ails you" as Grandma Strange would say) The tape holding all this paper is discolored & old. It is curling on the edges & faded. The literature racks are empty. Activities long since past are still stuck on the window. Under the window are scuff marks on the wall. I look at the pictures & they have fingerprints & dust on them. If I had a book I wouldn't have noticed the dust on all the chair rungs. If this area was made more pleasant for the patients, they might not feel like the discolored, curling tape.

The frazzled, tired receptionist glances periodically at the clock on the wall & then back to the waiting room full of patients. I get the idea that this is not her dream job. She receives several personal calls. She chats while the office phone rings. Her response to the patient calling is, "can you hold a moment, please?" & continues her personal call. After a few minutes she ends the personal call & treats the incoming call as an intrusion.

I could gather from her numerous conversations there is a cook out tonight with her family. They discussed what everyone is bringing & who is picking up the kids. That will be nice. She
can relax & perhaps enjoy a nice glass of wine.
I hope the scheduled rain doesn't ruin her plans. It it does, I am glad I won't be a patient here tomorrow. There is nothing worse than the wrath of an upset receptionist. That could ruin your day.

As I look closer, not only does the window need cleaning, but the entire area looks unkept.

Great! Someone comes out of a room. It is all our beloved receptionist could do to raise her head & talk to the patient. The lady needs some tests run & it seems they can't decide on a good time.
Finally, the receptionist tells her to take it or leave it, that is all there is. (I think that glass of wine for her tonight just morphed into a vodka martini straight up)

I got up from my chair & started pacing. I walked down the hall to the bathroom. Next door to the bathroom was an open door I had not noticed before. I peeked in & discovered it was the janitor's closet. I looked at this as an omen. I quickly filled my arms & returned to my post. I just could not sit any longer. As I returned I spotted a drug representative & actually grabbed four boxes of Kleenex. I discovered all the literature pamphlets in a box. Reception girl left her station long enough for me to spray Windex & clean off the old tape & signs on the see thru window. I used the Pledge can on everything that didn't move, including a bald guy's head. I tossed out all the bits & pieces of junk laying around the room. One of the patients asked if I would go home with him. The book lady actually laughed at that. Before long they were telling me I was missing a spot here & there.

As people were coming in & out I kept telling the nurse to take someone else. I really wanted to finish what I started. I was standing back enjoying my work. I turned around to get some approval from my fellow patients & I suddenly realized I was the only one in the room.

I was sitting on the table waiting for the doctor to enter & I looked down. Did you ever notice the black rubber step on an examining room table? This one needed a good scrubbing. NO, I sat there & didn't move. By this time I was too tired to do anything about it.

My appointment went fine. As I was leaving & once again admiring my work, I had a thought. Now I know why they call it a WAITING ROOM. I think they plan those long boring waits on purpose. They don't employ cleaning staff. One or two patients like me is all they need.

Oh, woe is me. I just realized I see a different doctor tomorrow.

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