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Life Arts    H4'ed 12/16/11

Waiting in the Examining Room

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I stand in the room some more. The child's voice hits a pitch that is physically uncomfortable to hear. I go out in the hall again. Someone in a lab coat is passing by.

She took my sutures out two weeks ago. She told me when she thought one would be difficult to pull out. I stopped counting after thirty, after some of the difficult ones, before she started taking out the ones in my palm. There were eighteen sutures in my palm. I counted them earlier, when I was curious and a little bored. I thanked her for doing such a good job. She said holding my hand still had made her job easier. Funny, I usually have familial tremors when I'm anxious.

I stop her now in the hall.

"I'm not sure what's going on, but I've been left here for a simple post-op visit for forty minutes. I once was left for two hours in an examining room because the doctor and staff just forgot me. That was just to get lab results. I understand that there are priorities. I don't like feeling like I have been pushed down to the bottom of the pile. I feel as though I am being treated like a non-entity."  

She said my doctor was in the casting room. She'd see what she could do.

I go back to the examining room. I sit on the rolling stool the doctor sits on when he examines patients. I've never sat there. It's a couple minutes. The surgeon comes in. He's sorry to keep me waiting. He sits in the chair I was sitting in before. The hand therapist was up, talking about me. She's very excited to have me as a patient. He tells me to be as aggressive as I can with therapy to get my fingers moving. He'll see me in four weeks. He hands me the sheet and says I'm good to go. I am at the desk making an appointment one hour after I arrived. I ask for a time when I won't be ignored like I was today.

Not thinking, I accept an appointment for 8:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. I teach at 8 a.m. on Tuesdays. It's the first time I've taught political science in twenty years. It's like teaching a grad seminar but it's teenagers at a community college. I've never enjoyed teaching this much. I wasn't allowed to teach while I was recovering from surgery. That's another story. But at the moment, I'm upset about being left in the examining room and no one bothering to check on me and the surgeon saying good things about my recovery and apologizing for keeping me waiting but in the same monotone that he uses when he says I'm doing well or I did a real number on my fingers. I take the appointment card. My hand is trembling.

I drive back to work, because I can make it back to put in the last half hour of the day. I'm still behind at work after being out two weeks due to the surgery. I thought I'd be back a little after three today. About the time the toddler was getting fussy. I thought I'd get something done after my appointment. Glad nothing urgent needs to be taken care of. Glad my old boss retired.

I wipe the tears from my face. My scabbed hand is wet on the steering wheel. That sounds melodramatic but I remember that feeling, my hand, the moisture, very distinctly. I was a few minutes late for my appointment. I was worried I'd throw their schedule off.

I was left alone waiting in an examining room.

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Bear Kosik is a political scientist by training. His Remaking Democracy in America was published in the fall of 2018 by Stairway Press. Well-received science fiction novels (two under Hugh Dudley) are available on Amazon. Several screenplays (more...)

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