Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Waiting. We all have to do it.

The doctor's office. We all have to go there.

It's when the two get together that it gets truly, staggeringly, mind-numbingly bad. You know those old Reeses Peanut Butter Cup commercials? The ones that have someone's peanut butter getting on someone's chocolate, while at the same time the chocolate is getting in the peanut butter, and the two people try their accidental concoction and find that, at least in that case, the whole is yummier than the sum of its parts?

That's like, the opposite of this.

You go to the doctor's office, primarily because you're not feeling well. You sometimes get out of bed to go there, trying your best to be there at the time they specified because they are the ones who will make you feel all better. So you get out of bed and into the car, and into the office... and there you wait. Sometimes in the World's Most Uncomfortable Chairs. Sometimes in the runner's up to the World's Most Uncomfortable Chairs. Either way, it's a far cry from the comfort of your own bed. And there you sit.


Then they call your name, and you pry your still sick-feeling backside from the chair you just spent a half-hour sitting in, having just now discovered the way to sit in the damn thing that causes you the least amount of additional discomfort. You stand and shuffle after the girl who called your name. The girl is always wearing some sort of pastel colored scrubs because those colors are believed to be calming and soothing, as if you are about to launch your germ-riddled, virus-laden body at her in some sort of attack rather than follow along in an exhausted shuffle, lacking the energy to even lift your feet from the carpeted hallway floor.

And let me stop any women out there who are right now bridling as they read this, taking umbrage at my use of the term girl. I'm 42 years old, but I could (and have) passed for 54. This fine young woman may be in her late 20's, maybe even her early 30's, but when you're sick, and you can normally pass for 54, you could now pass for 75, and feel about 90. My own grandmothers could be leading me down that hall and I'd be referring to them as girls

In my doctor's office, the girl (get over it) leads you down a short corridor to a second waiting room. Where you sit.

And wait.


And you remember that half-hour you spent figuring out the least uncomfortable way for you to sit in the chairs in the outer waiting room? Well that was a waste of time. These chairs are a different type. Not better, not more comfortable, just different. If earlier you were in the World's Most Uncomfortable Chairs earlier, now you're in the runners up. Or vice-versa.Though both are chairs, ergonomically they are as similar as a stepladder and some Romper-Stompers, and if you try the sitting technique you just discovered down the hall you could wind up sprawled on the floor, or throwing your own back out, or in a worst-case scenario requiring hip-replacement surgery (and don't get me started on that little conspiracy theory of mine - it requires a whole other blog!)

So you wait. You wait until the pastel girl (don't even look at me like that, you were warned!) comes back by to collect you, or help you off the floor, possibly into a wheelchair (just pray you don't need that hip-replacement), and she guides you gently into the examination room. She helps you up to the exam table, which is sometimes configured to sit you up like a chair, but nothing like the two chairs you were just in. This chair-table contraption  is really uncomfortable. Partly because of the butcher's paper the thing is lined with, paper they put there just for you so you don't infect the table with your germs.

Terrific. That paper makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, really, it does. No, wait... my bad, that's just the nausea.

So she (the girl) takes your pulse, your temperature and your blood pressure, all in rapid succession while she asks you what the problem is. You just have to hope that, what with all the waiting, shuffling, and falling on the floor, you haven't forgotten your original complaint. If you have, well, lucky for you you've either thrown out your back or now need a hip replacement, so you can tell her about that and don't feel like a complete idiot for wasting her valuable time.

And her time is valuable. Which she proves by bustling out the door as quickly as possible, tossing a "The doctor will be right with you!" over her shoulder as she goes. "Be right with you", it seems, sometimes, is code for "We called and woke the doctor at home, and she'll be here as soon as traffic allows." It seems that way because, though you've run the gauntlet of waiting in the outer waiting room, then waiting in the inner waiting room, and have won your way through to the actual examination room at the heart of your doctor's practice (and am I the only one who finds it unnerving that what the doctor is about to do to you is referred to as practice?) and there you are, all alone, sitting on a weird, uncomfortable piece of furniture plastered with the paper they usually wrap cuts of meat in.



Now, eventually the doctor does arrive, and you are seen, examined, felt, squeezed, listened to, poked, patted and probed. You get undressed, breathe deep, stick your tongue out, say ah, look at the light, look away from the light, feel a little pinch, take a little pee, lose a little blood, answer a whole bunch of questions, and get dressed again. You get a prescription, schedule a follow-up, make your co-pay, take your receipt and totter out the door. All of this does nothing to make you feel any better, it has no intrinsic medicinal or therapeutic value, but at least it was all a nice distraction. You had something else to focus on, something to keep you busy, too busy to think too hard about just how lousy you feel and wish you had just stayed in bed.

 And that was nice, that distraction. But it was only for the 15 minutes the doctor was actually talking to you out of your 2 hour and 30 minute visit to the doctor's office! Now that you are out and on your own again, on your way back to your home, and your bed, you have time to think about just how crappy you still feel. You look at the paper in your hand as you drive, the prescription the doctor wrote for you, maybe even called ahead to the pharmacy for you, and you look forward to just picking it up and getting it home. You just want to take the stuff, whatever it is (and by that point you don't even care), go to bed and let it start to work, let it start to make you feel better. It gives you something to look forward to. So you drive straight to the pharmacy in your way home.

Where the pharmacist takes your slip of paper, or looks you up in the computer, and speaks a phrase that falls upon your ears like a sandbag as she points to a row of things off to the side. These things are strange constructions of wood, plastic, and metal tubing. Sometimes there is some thin foam sheeting involved (they might refer to it as padding), sometimes there's naught but bare fabric involved. In general shape, these things appear to be chairs, but these are chairs like no others. They weren't even entered in the World's Most Uncomfortable Chair contest, because they were judged to be to uncomfortable.

The phrase she spoke as she gestured toward these 'chairs' was: "Please take a seat, and we'll call you when your order is ready." So there you perch (actual sitting is quite impossible in these constructions, especially with a thrown out back or a hip-replacement), staring into space, or watching the pharmacy staff as they mill about behind the counter, or maybe even reading the newspaper you found discarded by someone who had perched there earlier.




So. Do you think that's why they call people who go to the doctor's office 'patients'? Because of the bloody patience involved in all the @#&$ing waiting?

Oh... did I mention that I went to the doctor's today?


Talk to you later!

P.S. - Though I did go to the doctor's office today, in all fairness to my doctor and her staff I have to admit that it went fairly smoothly and much more quickly than I expected. The above is a comedic exaggeration of my day based on what has gone before, and what I was actually dreading when I called this morning for the appointment. Plus, I was able to schedule the appointment for my hip replacement before I left the office, so that was all gravy!


Talk to you later!

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