The waiting room is where you spend an inordinate amount of time waiting to see your doctor—ten times the amount of time spent talking with your doctor.
There’s nothing to do in the waiting room. Cell phone use is prohibited. Why are the magazines always the same worn out, insipid reading matter with titles such as “Cosmopolitan”, “People Magazine”, “Good House Keeping”? Vegan reading matter. Why not something meaty like “National Geographic” or “Science” or even a Dr. Seuss book?
The other patients in the waiting room are boring. What they talk about among themselves isn’t worth mentioning in this sentence. And some of them are so old that their age spots have age spots.
Then the receptionist in the white lab coat who thinks she’s almost the doctor gives you a ten-pound stack of irritating questionnaires and forms to fill out. Lie. All the information you give about yourself goes directly to your medical insurer. So lie, dodge the questions, or equivocate. Most people love spilling their guts out about their medical conditions because it makes them feel medically important, but avoid the temptation. Full disclosure will only make your insurance premium higher. Some of the questions, along with strong-arming release forms, and my responses follow:
What is your social security number? — XXX-XX-XXXX.
Do you take recreational drugs? — No, I’m not a professional athlete.
Do you drink? If so, how much per week? — Of course, I do. About 10 gallons of water a week. [That’s not a really a lie because that’s about the amount of water in the beer I drink per week. It’s an equivocation, like Bill Clinton’s answers during his impeachment proceedings.]
How much red meat do you eat per week? — None of your business.
When driving, how often do you wear your seat belt? — One hundred percent of the time. Oh, I promise. [Now, that’s a downright lie.]
How much coffee do you drink per day? — As much as my kidneys can process. [Being a little honest can’t hurt.]
Have you ever had any of the following conditions? . . . . — No. [Another downright lie. Let them figure it out.]
Sign the following forms so we can treat you. — I reluctantly sign them, although I don’t know how many legal rights I’m signing away. They’ve got me.
The list continues. This practice is invasive and should be illegal.
After you’ve served your time in the main waiting room, a nurse escorts you to the second waiting room. This is where you wait for the doctor while the nurse asks detailed questions about your current medical crisis and checks your blood pressure and pulse. I’ve learned that none of the detailed information given to the nurse is ever forwarded to the doctor, and you have to repeat it to the doctor. So why articulate it beforehand?
Nowadays, I keep it short and say to the nurse, “I’m here to get my blood checked because I take blood thinners for my titanium prosthetic heart valve.” That’ll be done, and more.
In the past, I’d finish with the doctor without discussing everything I had intended to cover. Then I’d have to make another appointment and copayment. Here’s a tip: Make a concise point-by-point list of your ailments, needed prescriptions, and any questions before seeing your doctor. Put a reminder at the end of the list to ask your doctor for available free samples. I haven’t bought a Celebrex in years, which was a four-dollar pill before generics became available. A list saves time and money.
After a total waiting time long enough to qualify as a new standard unit of time: “a waiting room visit (wrv)”, the doctor taps on the door and walks into the room. Why do doctors knock on their own door?
Addressing me with a smile, my doctor asks, “So what brings you in today?”
Pulling out my list and sounding as though I’m ordering service at my auto center, I say to the doctor, “My arthritis and tendonitis are acting up, so I need shots. Check my blood and refill these prescriptions. And what about some free samples?”
Nodding yes, he presses his cold stethoscope against my chest, momentarily stopping my heart. (He must store that stethoscope in the freezer.) After I catch my breath, I say, “Stay away from me with that gagging tongue depressor in your hand.”
When we’re done, he hands me the papers for checking out and shakes my hand. Doctors should know better. So I discreetly grab some hand sanitizer.
Unlike the waiting room process, the checking-out process is the most efficient operation on the planet; and the clerks never short the doctor’s office moneywise.