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Life Arts

Waiting in the Examining Room

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Yes, I was a minute or two late getting to the doctor's office. I was delayed at work, the lights didn't hit just right, I had some trouble finding a parking spot. I got up to the third floor, checked in, settled into a chair in the waiting room. Maybe ten minutes, the doctor's secretary called me back.

While she held the door, the secretary noted that the hand therapist had come up earlier. I was a star patient, coming in regularly and doing what I was told. It will only be a few minutes, sit wherever you want. I followed her outstretched arm into the examining room. I sat in the chair. The secretary left the door open.

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Usually I'd get up on the exam table. That way, I could dangle my legs, lean back, close my eyes. Not today. Why waste the tissue paper. I played with the copy of the interim report from the hand therapist I held in my hand. I sat up straight. I breathed.

Last time, I got to my appointment early. That was the second one after surgery, when they removed the sutures. I had forgotten the therapist's report that time and had to take the elevator back down to one, run out to my vehicle, grab the sheet on the passenger seat, and head back up. All that, and I was still in the waiting room on time, a little anxious for having forgotten the report. I was in and out in no time that day, even with all the sutures.

The secretary brought other patients back to other examining rooms. Two guys who looked like pharmaceutical salesmen passed by. You can tell because they look like Mormon missionaries, but they have trendier haircuts. Some staff members walked by. After about fifteen minutes, there was a bit of a buzz in the hallway. The surgeon was going in and out of the rooms. He told the secretary something, sounded like scheduling surgery. I thought he said "it will be a few minutes" in my direction. The drug company guys walked past, heading out. The buzz died down.

The secretary stopped in the room next to my room. There was some conversation. The people left. Next thing I know, a woman with a baby stroller is going in the room next door. The kid is fussy-- ear-piercing fussy. I'm still in the chair with the sheet from the therapist.

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It is 3:15 p.m. About thirty-five minutes in the examining room in the chair. I see the secretary walking past. I ask, "What's going on?" She's passed the door. Wait, she turns around, she's in the doorway. She tells me there have been a couple of emergencies. Okay.

I don't sit down again.

I was my usual happy self when I arrived. Another pleasant, amusing day in my rich, contented, absurd life. There are things that could cause me anxiety or distress, but they don't. I have learned the difference between what I can change and what I can't.   I know my serenity is in inverse proportion to my expectations. Acceptance begins on page 417 of the fourth edition. Now, I'm sullen.

The kid's still fussy. I stand in the room. I look out in the hall. No one is around.  

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.

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"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.

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Bear Kosik's evaluation of the state of democracy in the USA, Restoring the Republic: A New Social Contract for We the People, was published on March 30, 2016. His novels, novella, and full-length plays are available on Amazon and Smashwords. (more...)

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