Earlier this week, I found myself once again in a doctor’s office waiting room. Looking around, I pondered the number of these rooms I’d been in. Given my near lifetime struggle with fibromyalgia symptoms of one kind or another, that number must be astronomical.
My experience has been that most are so similar as to be interchangeable, differing mostly in size. I’ve seen them furnished with as few as two and as many as a hundred hard-plastic or wooden (also hard) chairs. After particularly long waits, I’ve actually listed “waiting room chair” as a contributing factor to the pain I was there to address.
The wall décor in these rooms is often what differentiates one from the other. If it’s the office of only one or two doctors, you’re almost certain to find their black-framed credentials in prominent view. If it’s a medical group of three or more, there’s likely to be more variety.
I’ve seen some very interesting bulletin boards papered with ads for health-related community events such as yoga sessions, support groups, and meditation classes. Many are things that interest me. I’ve also admired enlarged photos of nature scenes taken on vacations by the doctors I was there to see. I’ve even been treated to the occasional saltwater tropical fish tank. Watching these colorful creatures tops the list of my favorite ways to spend my wait.
And I always appreciate a window. Having had no warning of dimming light, it’s downright distressing to arrive at a winter’s appointment in the bright sun — only to find it pitch black outside when it’s time to go home. It’s a reminder I’d rather not have of how much of the day was dedicated to my less than good health.
I wish they’d get rid of the magazines in these places. Not only do I worry about the germ count on their covers, but also the headlines are often nearly as old as the doctors I’m there to see. I’d rather have a television to watch, although I seldom agree with their choice of programming.
Yes, I’ve enjoyed a couple of high-quality, long-running nature films, most likely supplied by big pharma. However, the majority of the waiting room TVs are tuned to a major network. During my usual afternoon waits, I’m often subjected to soap operas in existence since my childhood. It’s strange how characters who were my age when I watched as a young adult have remained young and vibrant while decades have passed and I became a grandma. I’d rather not be reminded of how quickly the “Days of Our Lives” pass by.
The reason for all this pondering was the unusually long wait I’d had that day. Concerned about punctuality for my rare morning appointment, I had attached a tiny sticky note to my bathroom mirror the night before. All it said was “9:30” (when I’d need to leave). Although glad of that reminder, I chastised myself for running late as usual as I dragged myself in to brush my teeth. Why do I always do this to myself? I hate to be late! Forgoing a needed shampoo, I settled for a couple of quick twists with a curling iron, dressed in a hurry, and raced out the door.
After rushing to arrive in time to get checked in and walk to the waiting room next door, I was a bit annoyed when some time later my phone showed that it was 9:45. An always-present sign on the wall of this room read, “If you’ve been waiting more than 10 minutes for your appointment, please use the waiting room phone to call the receptionist.” Only then did I discover that there was no waiting room phone!
Luckily, my trusty cellphone worked just as well. I smugly pointed out the discrepancy between the words on the sign and the absence of a phone in the room as I reported my over-10-minute wait time. After a suspicious silence, the receptionist sweetly asked, “Ma’am, are you aware that your appointment is scheduled for 10:00?”
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