An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away – If Only!

So, strictly I have already broken my resolution to blog daily, but hey, my day hasn’t ended yet, I’m still awake! Although I could easily go on about myself and my little failures for hours and hours on end, today, we have a specific topic. And, no, I haven’t even looked at today’s Blogging101 assignment, but the again, if I had, there wouldn’t be anything to catch up on during the weekend…

May I introduce today’s topic (*drum roll*): doctors! Not the PhD kind of doctors like in the Big Bang Theory but the ones in the white coats: GPs, dentists, orthopedics, orthodontists, surgeons, radiologists, gynecologists, urologists (while we’re at it),… All of those. The idea came to me (surprise!) while I was in the doctor’s waiting room this morning. I have a lot to say about doctors. Well, less about doctors, but about going to the doctor’s, which I intensely dislike.

Let me start at the beginning. If you want or need to go to see a doctor, you have to make an appointment. Not so many years ago, I used to be terrified of speaking on the phone. Answering the phone was bad, but calling someone or somewhere was way worse. While my social skills have improved drastically since then, calling to make a doctor’s appointment is still one of those few occasions that I am not entirely comfortable with. Firstly, they often let you hold the line for ages and then when you finally get through to them, you speak to some brash assistant nurse. Then you have to coordinate schedules, which is always a bit stressful (I just made a doctor’s appointment three hours before an important exam…, huge mistake! I’ll have to cancel that one and get a new one, another phone call!). And they might suddenly ask you loads of things which you are meant to have on hand, like the name of your insurance and I always get terrified of getting something as easy as my own birthday wrong when put on the spot like that.

Assuming you have your appointment now, the trouble isn’t over, it has just begun. If you want to see a specialist, for example, be prepared to wait three months for that 10-minute appointment. But let’s not dwell on this minor detail, after all, there is a ton of social awkwardness awaiting you when you arrive for that appointment that we haven’t even mentioned yet. You enter the practice and there it is: level one, the counter that you’re meant to register at. Usually, the assistant nurse secretary person is either talking to another patient or talking on the phone or altogether absent. If you’re particularly blessed there will also be a little ‘wait here’ line like at the post office or the airport. If there’s no one there, what do you do? Do you stay awkwardly behind the line? Or do you intrude? If there is someone there and that someone is talking on the phone or to another patient, even if you stay behind the line it will be impossible for you to not listen to their conversation. You know that and they know that and it makes us all so very very uncomfortable.

Of course, making it to the waiting room (level 2) now seems like a major relief and magazines often save you from awkward stares. The absolute silence that is so often characteristic of these situations makes taking your coat off or grabbing a magazine a huge event though and you will be guaranteed some disapproving looks. And is it just me, or is anyone also afraid that they might not hear their name properly when the assistant nurse person calls your name? Longest I have waited at a doctor’s was four hours! But then, in comparison, longest I have waited in a hospital was seven hours, so not too bad then.

Say you do hear your name properly then you make it to level 3, where you are assigned to a consultation room (sometimes there is also an intermediate level where they make you sit in another waiting area before pointing to a consultation room). Here, the wait continues. And you can’t even use the time and concentrate on your reading because chances are a doctor and/or a nurse will pop in and look for something, take something from the room or type something into a computer (again you can’t help to read what they’re writing!). Ideally, when you reach level 4 you have made it: You are talking to a doctor and he/she will help you.

Of course now you might have difficulties describing your concerns, or you might wish you had worn more conservative underwear or whatever, but the long wait and the difficulties that you have mastered on your way here have made you brave and strong and you can deal with these problems now. Congratulations! You’ve made it. Get well soon.

Unlucky of course if you have not made it quite yet and the doctor wants to take a sample, a swab, get an x-ray, a CAT scan or an MRI or whatever else might spring to mind. Then you can prepare to do the whole ordeal again, maybe repeatedly even. Good luck!

Another side effect of these long processes is naturally that whatever the doctor tells you when you made it to level 4 feels like a victory at first, you’re just happy to be able to talk to a goddamn doctor, no matter how serious and shattering the diagnosis might be.

Hallelujah to that!

B x

(Soz to be such a downer today…)

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