It all started when I called the doctor’s office to take an appointment. As always I was greeted by a pre-recorded voice message, ‘Thank you for your patience, someone will assist you momentarily.’ I waited until a human said, “Can you please hold on for a second?” My response is always ‘Yes’, but this time, I said the opposite to experiment. To my utter disdain, the human voice ignored my ‘no’ completely, and said in a robotic voice “Thank you, I will be right back.”
After a long sigh and momentary wait I got an appointment with the specialist, a month away.
On the day of the appointment, I promptly reached ten minutes early to do my paperwork. After I completed all the formalities, I was told to take a seat and wait for the Physician-Assistant (PA) to call my name. I waited way past my appointment time. Then I stepped out of the waiting room, and made some calls and browsed through the social networking sites. I returned to the front desk to inquire and was told that the Dr was running behind and he is trying to catch up. I was patient for things can get out of hands for any of us, and it is especially true in the medical field. I sat in the waiting room empathizing with the exhausted mom seated in front of me with her two toddler kids. We the patients were patiently waiting in the waiting room.
After some time, when I heard my name, it was music to my ears. I jumped out of my chair and almost galloped inside in hope of saving time. Nonetheless, I resigned to walk behind the PA. She guided me to a small room where I sat on the patient chair. She noted the details—temperature, blood pressure, current medications and all the interesting medical stuff. After completing her job, she smiled and said, “Dr will be with you soon.” She walked out of the room and closed the door behind her.
‘Soon again!’ I thought, but I believed her for lack of a better choice.
I gazed at the wall in front of me for one thousandth time and waited anxiously for the doctor’s knock at the door. But nothing happened! I shifted my glance and gave a cursory look at the magazine rack on the wall, and picked a few to pass the time.
I repeated the above ritual multiple times, and before I knew I had read all magazines on the rack, even ‘The Golf’ that talks about the sport I have no interest in, and the ‘Diabetes’. I even read all the disease pamphlets and the vaccination information on the walls. There was nothing more to read, so I started reading the labels on the drawers and the medicines/instruments that were carefully laid out.
Still there was no sound of the knock. So I started reading the fine prints on the pamphlets, and then the anatomy diagrams and the procedure diagrams. I read everything that this little room could offer. My brain was overwhelmed with all complex medical jargons, and it seemed that I was thrown inside this room to prepare for some kind of medical certification. And I was as prepared as I could be!
I had obediently followed the sign on the door ‘Pls. switch off your cell phones when in this room’, but I was at the peak of my boredom inside this small room. So, I decided to be naughty and switched on my smartphone. I played few games, thus killing some more time.
Feeling restless, my inner voice told me to calm down so I tried to meditate a little to make the most of this powerless situation. Then I heard the much-awaited knock!
It was the Physician Assistant again. She smiled and said, “Dr. is finishing up with her last patient and she would be with you shortly!” Inside of me screamed, “Aaaaaaaah! How long is this shortly?” PA turned around and said, “Excuse me, did you say something?” An awkward moment it was! I shook my head and wondered if my thoughts were getting loud. With PA gone, I was alone with my claustrophobic feelings, waiting for the knock again.
Well, then there was this knock that I was so patiently waiting for. The doctor popped in with a smile, and we had a chat. Before I knew, my encounter with the doctor was over. I felt cheated as the encounter was totally disproportionate to my wait time! ‘This can’t be fair’, I grimaced.
Then at that moment, it dawned upon me the very reason sick are also called a patient, is because a visit to a doctor’s office is pretty much a ‘game of patience’.
As always I am interested to know about your experiences at the doctor’s office, and how best you use your time in a waiting room.