On This Earth

A writer I much admire once wrote, “. . . waiting is the tense in which life is truly written.” Those words struck a chord with me when I read them three years ago. They’ve never left me. And sometimes when I am sitting in my rheumatologist’s waiting room, I think of how true those words are.

Reading Billies’ excellent post on waiting reminds me I meant to write about my time spent in that waiting room. While I was there in May, I came to the hard decision of looking for another doctor. Though things flow at a creeping pace at this office, I arrive on time at 3:30 p.m.

At 5:00 p.m. I see the front desk receptionist walk by me with her purse. She hasn’t yet taken my co-pay. I’d signed in and exchanged pleasantries with her and then taken my seat in the crowded waiting room. Deep into my reading, I only entertain a passing mental query as she goes by. After all, there is other staff.

At 5:30 p.m. the tech who does the preliminary workup, vitals and the dreaded weigh-in, sees me through the open sign-in window. “Did they pull your chart?” he asks.

I shrug my shoulders. How do I know?

He walks around and opens the door for me. “I’m sorry,” he says, as he escorts me toward the back. He chats with me as he works, asking how my writing is going. Fine, I say.

Before I’m shown to an exam room, I have to go up front and give my co-pay. “I can’t take a credit card. It’s after five,” says the young girl left at the front desk.

I shrug again. Not my problem. I’ve been there more than two hours by then. Somehow she gets it done.

I text my husband: “Two hours and haven’t been seen.”

“Unacceptable,” he fires back.

Sometime after 6:00 p.m. the PA comes in and makes himself comfortable. He takes an extensive history, dating from my last visit two months previously. He conscientiously taps onto his laptop my every utterance it seems. He asks me how to spell a word; I tell him. “I hate English,” he says with a sheepish grin. “It has its quirks,” I say.

He spends over 30 minutes with me, typing, chatting. I feel like I’m with family, the whole process is so familiar. With a shake of the hand he leaves me to my reading and waiting.

Around 7:00 p.m. my doctor walks in; smiling, he extends his hand towards me. He’s always smiling and he always shakes my hand. “How are you doing?” he asks. “Sorry about the wait.”

“It’s OK,” I murmur.

He meticulously reads what the PA wrote, then reviews certain comments/complaints. Satisfied with my responses, he asks me to step up onto the exam table.

He bends every one of my fingers by turn (ouch), then has me lie back and proceeds to bend my legs, my arms (no problem there), and listens to my heart, my lungs. He guides me to sit up and then checks my eyes and inside my mouth searching for RA’s sidekick, dryness of the mucous membranes. All checks out and he goes back to the desk. I step down and go sit across from him.

He checks his phone researching something for several long minutes, then comes to a decision regarding my current medications. He goes over the protocol with me. “You’re doing very well,” he says with that smile.

Returning his smile, I lock eyes with him for a moment. We are coming to the end of this slow-moving ballet we’ve engaged in for almost a decade.

And I remember why.

Because of him, I remain here, on this earth.

We shake hands and I make my way to the front desk. I schedule my next appointment, then exit the office. It is now 8:00 p.m.

Written for: Weekly Writing Challenge: Fit to Write

5 thoughts on “On This Earth

  1. J.G. Chayko

    Wow! Sounds like a doctor I used to work for a few years ago; she was always at least an hour behind and patients complained about the wait, but once they got in, she gave them her time and undivided attention. If you have a good one, stick with them 🙂

    1. Irma

      Nowadays doctors are rushed to see more patients and five minutes with you is the norm. At this office, it’s like they had all day, but the care is priceless. I usually spend two to three hours there, but that particular day was a record-setter!

  2. Wren

    It sounds like he’s a good doc, and the care you receive from him and his PA is thoughtful and thorough, but WOW, Irma. You spent nearly three-and-a-half hours past your appointment time waiting to him? I’m afraid I agree with your husband. Barring emergencies, I can’t imagine any good reason a patient should have to wait that long for a routine, scheduled-months-in-advance appointment. I can see it if you’d called that day and asked to be squeezed in, but… well… wow.

    Maybe you should tell us the rest of the story? How did this doctor save your iife?

    Wishing you well and sending a warm hug your way… 😉

    1. Irma

      He is a great doc. And he is an RA sufferer as well. He knows the pain we go through. He teaches at university and runs two offices. Don’t know how he does it really, but knowing all that gives me the patience I need. My appts usually take a couple of hours; this one was an outlier. But, he did rescue me back in 2004. I should write about it.Thanks for the hug. Hugs to you as well. Hope the dragon fire has been extinguished.

  3. Pingback: Expression and the Art of Letting Go | The Seeker's Dungeon

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