Sunday, November 22, 2009

Patience, Please

The other day I went to see the dermatologist for a routine procedure. He was very busy that day and his office kept calling to see if they could push back my appointment time, which was fine with me, as I was at work and my schedule was otherwise clear that afternoon. I think my appointment started out at noon and was pushed back two or three times until finally, I showed up at his office at 5:30. Even then, I was told, amidst several apologies, that I would have to wait another 90 minutes or so. I called my husband to tell him I’d be home late and settled in with a book.

There were several other people in the waiting room who had clearly been there for some time and all seemed to be taking the wait in stride, joking with each other about the unusually late hour. There was one woman who was especially talkative. She appeared to be in her 60’s and was there with her husband, who smiled occasionally though didn’t join in her banter. She engaged the other patients in the waiting room in conversation, one by one, then took her cell phone out of her purse and called someone to tell them, in a loud voice, about the wait. I began to get annoyed as I wanted nothing but to lose myself in my book.

Her husband was called in to see the doctor and the woman got up and moved closer to me. She picked up a copy of Readers Digest and began reading jokes out loud, then looking my way to gauge my reaction. I smiled politely. She read more jokes out loud. I fervently wished she would fall off the planet. Mercy finally arrived in the form of a nurse calling my name. By this time it was 7:00 p.m.

As I sat in the examination room in my paper gown (god I hate those gowns) I could hear the husband in the next room, talking with the doctor. When the doctor finally arrived he apologized for the cancelled appointments and the long wait. I told him that it wasn’t a problem and that I appreciated that he was able to see me at all on what was usually a surgery day for him. "Well," he said, "at least you haven’t been waiting as long as my last patient. The man I just saw is one of my melanoma patients. He had surgery at 7:00 this morning, but has been here all day because we’ve had some complications. Now, let’s have a look at your leg."

Throughout the procedure I thought of what I would say to the woman when I left. Perhaps I could make yet another joke about the long day or just give her a smile and wish her well. I tried to think of something that would be comforting, yet appropriate, given that I didn’t even know her. But of course, when I left, they were gone. The room was empty and the receptionist was locking up the office. I walked out into the night sat in my van for just a minute, before starting it up and heading home to my family.

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  1. I think that's happened to the best of us, Kristin. Not only that, how many times might others have felt like that towards US?
    I think it's human nature. Don't beat yourself up about it. We do what we can, when we can.

  2. I agree with Ebony...things like that happen to know she probably didn't even realize she was being over the top, and didn't notice you weren't exactly interested in having a conversation or listening to the jokes...some people do tend to ramble when they are worried/ I can ramble at any time...but I don't initiate conversations with strangers in a waiting room...especially one reading a book!

    I know how I would feel if I was in your situation...but I would try not to dwell on it and let it go!



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