Wednesday, January 18, 2012

the waiting game (lyn)

I have an appointment this morning at my gynecologist.  I’ve been seeing her for at least 13 years, probably longer.  She can be prickly and narcissistic, but is smart and competent.

By the time I shower and check emails, it’s time to leave, and I haven’t eaten breakfast. I’m at the bus stop by 8:30, and again marvel at all the people who routinely are up and out and starting work at this time.  I can’t believe I used to be one of them. 

I stop at a Dunkin’ Donuts near my doctor’s office for coffee, and see all the calories listed next to the menu items.  I splurge and have two donut holes for a combined caloric intake of 150 calories.  I know these are empty calories, but I’m hungry.

I arrive at the doctor’s office by 9:05, for my 9:15 appointment.    First, I am handed an electronic note pad and asked to update all my information.  This high-tech approach is incongruous with the low-tech, slightly shabby office.  After checking-in, the waiting begins.  This three-pronged waiting process is the most annoying part of my visit.  Here’s how it works. 

Phase One:  Wait upstairs with many patients until you are called and handed your physical file (mine is huge as I have been coming for many years; too bad this isn’t digitized like my much smaller contact info is).

Phase Two: Proceed to lower level, file in hand, where you wait with fewer patients.

Phase Three: Enter exam room, strip naked, put on a paper dress (open in the front) and await the arrival of the doctor.

So, I’m still upstairs waiting, when I decide this is ridiculous.  45 minutes and I haven’t even progressed to phase two yet.  This happens every time I come.  I think it’s insulting.  Doesn’t my time count?  What, are three patients all scheduled for the same time slot?  Why does this seem to only happen here?  I even suggest to the billing clerk that if I am charged $25 for cancelling, they should pay me $25 for waiting.  She probably thinks I’m absurd; if she is, she would be right.

Finally, I am led downstairs, and phases two and three pass quickly.  But not before I mention to my doctor’s nurse that this will probably be my last time here, as I hate waiting an hour or more every time I come.  She just shrugs and continues with her paperwork.  Someone probably said, “There’s this anxious b***ch upstairs, could someone PLEASE see her?!” 

After 65 minutes of waiting, I finally get to see my doctor.  I notice right away that all the weight she lost last year appears to be back.  She doesn’t comment that mine is still off.   But she’s friendlier and chattier than usual.  We talk about kids (mostly hers, but that’s okay), how expensive college is (she tells me that she only has $1,000 left in savings), and my health (which is fine).  By the time my exam ends, I have forgotten the wait, and realize that I both like and trust my doctor.

Before leaving, I apologize to the billing clerk and the nurse.  I mean really, what’s an hour of waiting once a year?  I just hope I remember this next time I'm here.

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