Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Doctor's Waiting Room

So, it has been some time since I have written any blog entries. I apologize for my lack of creativity. I have been quite busy with my usual work schedule, plus there is the nagging issue of my convalescence and physiotherapy as I continue to recuperate from my recent quad surgery and relearn to walk again (it’s a slow process, but I’m doing fine, thanks for asking).

I usually write when I have a free moment or an imposed downtime and when the spirit moves me. There is no better downtime then waiting outside of a doctor’s office for your appointment as you listen to the second hand on the wall clock tick way past your initial appointment time.

Is there something written somewhere that if you have an appointment for, say, 2:30pm, you should prepare to bring a tooth brush? I’ve never been able to understand how one has to wait hours after their arrival to see a physician for an appointment that usually lasts just a few minutes. But I digress.

The waiting room at a doctor’s office is itself a little depressing. For one thing, it’s usually full of sick people. I think there is a correlation between the length of time you have to wait in the waiting room and the level of contagion the person beside you appears to have.

Right now I’m sitting beside a sniffling, sneezing woman as I type this. I have a longing desire for a polymer coating over my entire body, or at the very least a windshield wiper for my laptop screen.

Somewhere in the mix of patients is a woman (I’m guessing it’s a woman) who when she left the house this morning, failed to miss a pore when applying perfume.

Sitting across from me is a guy who is constantly grinning and making gestures to someone else in the room. At least I hope he is and it’s not some imaginary friend.

There is also senior citizen guy who actually has Hungry Like A Wolf as his ringtone. No, seriously. And his phone seems to ring about every ten minutes or so (remind me to do a blog entry one day on ringtones).

There’s a little old lady, who when standing is shaped like the letter “C” and who clearly predates electricity. She’s pacing slowly back and forth with a walker probably thinking that, like a shark, if she stops moving she might just die.

Then there is the receptionist. In an open concept waiting room this is a woman who probably learned to whisper in a saw mill. When she asks for your Medicare card and loudly clarifies she has the right name, she then proceeds to discuss whatever ails you at the volume level best used by carnival barkers. It’s oh so gratifying to share your afflictions with the rest of the room.

Once you have gotten past your initial embarrassment, you can then sit in the waiting room watching for future patients to walk in, and like a game show, try to guess what their ailment is before the carnie behind the desk starts up.

The excitement of this round of the game is only surpassed by the one-sided phone calls you get to hear from said receptionist. One can only imagine the little old lady on the other end of the line, clinging to her rotary phone, sitting there like Whistler’s mother trying to hear and comprehend what the receptionist is attempting to tell her. That can be the only explanation to the repetitive screaming that our carnival barker is now employing, cranking up her vocal volume with each repetition of the clinic’s address and operating hours.

Some people in the waiting room have come prepared. I’ve brought my laptop, others have brought copious amounts of reading material, and some have taken the opportunity to prepare their taxes. But there are those who have come unprepared; the ones who are forced to read old issues of Life Magazine and ponder the idea of how the music world will survive now that Elvis has been drafted into the army (I swear, there are publications in this waiting room that are fresh off the Gutenberg press). These are the people that I feel sorry for – the ones in waiting room purgatory, never knowing if they will make it to heaven or if this spot is their eternal damnation.

I, on the other hand, am content, knowing that I have cleared my entire schedule for this moment, brought sufficient provisions, and I can wait it out with the best of them – unless of course the battery on my laptop runs dry. If that happens, then I’ll have to flip though the magazines to find out how that Cuban missile crisis worked out.

That’s the Stuph – the way I see it.


  1. Good lord!! However did you survive this hell...

  2. Too funny. Working in a clinic I try to rid our waiting room of magazines dated before 1967 and I assure you I will keep all my phone calls to a whisper now. LOL.

  3. After reading this, part of me hopes you're afflicted with some crazy, unheard of, rare disease (that hopefully won't impact your life too much). You know, just so this experience will have been worth something, so it changes your life.

    The other, nicer part of me hopes you're doing well and that the Doc's got nothing to tell you.

  4. Cute blog. I luckily have a sergeant major doctor who keeps on great time and actually has a collection of interesting, reasonably current magazines - my complaint is that I never get to finish an article I start. There worse things to complain about.

  5. lawl - Granpaw gets pwned by his grandkid loading in some Duran Duran as a ring tone. If only Granpa was a haxx0r...

  6. I guess there's a little bit of good in everything even the wasting room. Before reading the entry I was not aware that one could surf the net while waiting it out. Have to remember that in the unlikely (knock on wood) event that I have to use our wonderful American medical system anytime in the near future...

  7. Great blog Peter....I have been in waiting rooms like that....even finished novels while waiting for my appointment!

  8. Great blog. I laughed out loud about the Cuban missile crisis!

  9. So how did the Cuban Missile Crisis turn out? And how did Kennedy do in the election of '64?

  10. So...were you on medication already?
    Yeah.. you pretty much resume what we all feel when we go there, while waiting eagerly for our name to come up.
    The less visits, the better.

  11. Peter,
    Did you notice Iscah who's on your FB friend list called her latest photo file the stuf file?
    The optometry clinic 2nd floor JGH is unreal. Last time my appt was for 1:30 pm and I got to see Dr Kapusta at 6pm.
    Bring lunch.
    and supper.
    I have made friends there. Really. The folks aren't sick per se, we have eye problems.
    See you 2nite, Peter!!

  12. Good one! And I agree, having had similar experiences in waiting rooms...

    BTW, glad to hear your recuperation goes well, albeit slowly...

  13. I have been there...done that...Remember, next time...bring food...fill a bag with all kinds of goodies, a sandwish, juice, bag of chips, etc.

  14. Whats wrong with hungry like the Wolf? Are you dis'ing Duran Duran? If you are then you hate the eighties. Don't hate the eighties Peter, hate the game.

  15. Great post, hilarious. As someone who spends entirely too much time in waiting rooms, I can vouch for the authenticity of this piece! Maybe the sequel could be how you feel when you finally get ushered into the sacred doctor's office. For me, that's always when the humiliation really ramps up.

  16. Here in the UK getting the appointment in the first place is hard enough, unless you go private.

    Expedience is directly related to your wealth though, wherever you are.

    Those waiting rooms are soul destroying.

    Also children in waiting rooms. I've got nothing much against them but I wish the parents of today wouldn't treat the outside world like an extension of their own homes where obviously little Johnny is the COMPLETE centre of their attentions... and his. Shut up the cooing parents and you might shut up the screaming child.

    They could hand out Valium on arrival?

  17. I am quite offended to hear that my hours of labour to help humankind rid itself of pain has been referred to as "nagging physiotherapy". And here I had always treasured our times together!!

  18. The only thing worse than the waiting room is the emergency ward. There was story here in TO a while back about a guy who died after a 36 hour wait.

  19. I shouldn't laugh so hard about the characters you've described because one day, I know, I will be that little old lady, who when standing is shaped like the letter “C”. What's worse is that I will probably be talking to myself out loud as I carelessly pass wind in public.

  20. Perhaps I'm lucky, but in Calgary I get immediate health care via my regular doctor. I DO have a "special" condition aside from the mental one, though.

    I remember waiting in CLSC lines in Montreal with potentially disease-spewing other waiting patients.

    At one point, they let us leave to do shopping etc and come back without losing our place in line.

    Whatta concept!

  21. Docs waiting rooms...def comparable to the Cuban missile crisis, at least. What happened there again? I'll have to hit the quack to find out...
    Here, at my local GP, i have to read about whether Mandela will be released or not. Now, what happened with that again?
    But re: the carnival barker. Perhaps this is part of an unsolicited, free service offered...a kind of meeting place for ailing folk...sort of, "Hi, my name's Peter, and i suffer from..."
    A remedial forum to help c.barker pass the time? Maybe not...