My mother tells me that once she and I waited for six hours in a doctor’s office to find out whether or not I was bowlegged. (NO HOW! And thus my dream career as cowgirl: erased. Or maybe it was duckfooted, not bowlegged, and to be a duck, not a cowgirl. Either way: dreams crushed.) Apparently after the six-hour mark, I lost my composure and started crying, and Mom just figured, hey, this’ll probably get us in faster. It did.

Waiting for the (Wo/)Man

I’ve been thinking about doctor waiting rooms lately, mostly because I can no longer speed up my admission time by bawling. On my last gastro visit earlier this week, I was the first patient of the day at 8 a.m., and got in to see the doctor at 8:30. The previous appointment was similar, and the one before that we waited an hour and a half. A. went to be seen for allergies at another clinic and sat in the exam room for two hours before the doctor showed up. In every case, we had scheduled appointments.

So what is this, a regionalism? A generalization of Texas clinic wait times, or their overall efficiency? I don’t know. Probably just a big fat judgment on the latter. I think probably my best experience was in Duluth, Minnesota; I’d come in early for appointments and have a nice, thorough chat with my nurse practitioner, who, if I haven’t already mentioned, was the absolute shit and set the bar waaaay too high for any of my subsequent healthcare providers. In Central New York, I’d show up early at a doctor’s office and I’d usually get on time, if not early. Appointments had a very businesslike, in-out feel there, especially with my gastro, who seemed to pride himself on the speed diagnosis and sometimes made me feel unreasonable if I couldn’t remember all my questions instantaneously. But when I consider the overall care in relation to the time, I spend roughly the same amount of time with my gastro and other doctors down here. The only difference here is that I also waste an assload of my already-annihilated sick time.

Waiting room quirks I’ve known: the good, the bad, and the weird

1. Blaring TVs.
Because that’s what sick people need: lots of noise from infomercials, swoopy news show openings, and excitable pundits! Special highlights from my mental delirious-TV file now include Glen Beck doing a freaky earnest book talk, and some MSNBC money program. Our last trip to the ER we were treated to Ghost Rider and soccer – that actually made for a great morphine-induced combo later on in my head.

But. There are pros here. It gives the non-sick something distracting and hands-free to watch when they’re not holding a bucket/ice pack/tourniquet for their loved(?) one. Also, you can get your mindless entertainment without picking up a magazine that may – gasp – have been touched by another sick person. So there’s that, I guess. Of course, you’re sitting in a chair that has been sat in by another sick person…

2. Other diversions.
Duluth’s office had a view of Lake Superior. That was pretty soothing. The others I’ve been in have everything from bizarre yarn art to fish tanks to chocolate-brown walls. (Heh. Yes, it was a gastro’s office. Ironic sense of humor or totally oblivious?) My current gastro has a TV, framed watercolors, magazines, a computer monitor advertising pharmaceuticals, and a nice view of the parking lot.

3. Loveseats.
The ER in my current hometown has these. Snuggle while you shudder with fever! Or you could lay down. Right.

4. Crucifixes and crosses.
Okay, so it was a Catholic urgent care. It took me aback for a moment, though.

5. Dogs and cats, living together, mass hysteria.
Wait. That’s the vet. Sorry. They have a wonderful display case of rusty, nasty-looking veterinarian surgical implements, though. It’s pretty great.


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