Appointments are never on time

I did not go out on my front porch yesterday morning because I was preparing for another procedure that meant I could not have any food, not even water from midnight to the time of the procedure which was 11 AM. It’s funny how hungry you can feel and how thirsty you are when somebody tells you that you cannot have it. So from the minute that I woke up around 7:30am in the morning until the time of the procedure my stomach growled and my mouth felt dry. I do not know why one must fast for every procedure no matter what it is for. As it turned out I made it to the hospital on time for my appointment. After the usual direction from the volunteer to the lady who makes sure I have insurance, I was directed to wait in the lobby. As this is a small rural hospital there was only one other person waiting in the lobby sitting on the oversized couches. As my wife and I were talking to each other about the hospital the woman who was also waiting, let us know that she was waiting for the same procedure and her appointment was an hour earlier than mine. Like most people there’s not much you can do about the hospital appointments being on time. I think the general rule of thumb is that no appointment at a doctor’s office or hospital, are ever on time. As I spoke to the lady waiting for her appointment one of the volunteers in the front lobby area started to make popcorn. The lady in front of me laughed and said, “Now that is cruel and unusual punishment. They make you fast all night long and then you show up to the hospital and wait almost an hour after your appointment time and they’re making popcorn.” I laughed and agreed that there is always something delicious about the smell of popcorn. Just as the lady pulled out her phone to call the x-ray department and cancel her appointment, her name was called to go to x-ray. With that happening I knew it was going to be a while before they called my name. I did get excited when somebody called out my first name of Stephen. I jumped off of the couch and went towards the volunteer who called the name hoping that it was my turn, only to find out she was calling out the name of another Stephen. So I wheeled around back to the couch and waited for my name to be called again. Sometime later my name was called. As I was directed to the x-ray department a middle-age man in scrubs greeted me in the hallway (he was the x-ray technician) and asked how I was doing? I told him I was waiting for him. He looked at me with a puzzled look and asked how long I’ve been waiting. It was apparent to me that he had no clue that he was an hour or so behind on his appointments. So you cannot be mad at the guy doing x-rays or the really nice old ladies who are volunteers at the hospital directing me to his office. Basically you just smile and go through the procedure.

Most hospital administrators are nowhere near the area where people who were signing in for their appointment gather. They hide behind the many hallways and doors with all the appropriate signs that say “do not enter staff only”. And of course if they asked the nice ladies who are volunteers in the front of the hospital, those ladies will always say things are just fine. Volunteers are really good people with kind hearts. The administrators are busy with the many duties that run the hospital and they do not seem to really care about whether a patient is being seen on time or not. In my mind they could probably adjust the times when they give the appointment times to allow for the delays that might happen in a hospital. It would be nice when you sign in if they would let you know that they are a little behind today. Sometimes I think that hospitals are just like the Department of Motor Vehicles, they know I need them and they know that I am not going away. It is usually the staff that are in the front of the hospital or the doctor’s office they get all the rage and anger from a patient about how late their appointment is. But by the time the doctor actually shows up, or the person is doing the procedure, all you want to do is get the procedure done.

Why is it when the doctor finally does come down the hallway and he or she ask you how you’re feeling your first response is “fine”. I am not fine that is why I am at their office. I do not believe that it is the doctor’s fault that the appointments are going late. I think that falls on the hospital, office or the clinics administration. And it seems that after you waited about a half hour to 45 minutes your name is called and you’re sent back to a room and you set there for 45 minutes before actually seeing the doctor. The nurses that you meet along the way can be either very nice are just about the business of you being there. They seem to speak to other employees there about events of their day as if you’re not there beside them. I’m lucky that I’m in a rural area and the nurse that greets me at the door seems to be actually interested in why I’m there.

I’m fortunate enough to have insurance that covers most of my medical needs. But I’m also one of those faceless number people who call up and get an appointment time only to expect and then receive the fact that that appointment time will be delayed. Luckily now you can bring a device with you and read a book or watch a movie that you actually like. I’m not sure where they get the magazines that they throw down on the tables in the waiting room, but the only time I actually read those magazines is when I desperate to kill time.

I know that living in United States of America I am lucky to have the availability of medical care. Maybe my dislike for not being seen at the appointment time is a bit like a spoiled child. Maybe it’s because I’m an old man and I get more irritated all the time. Luckily I’m married to a great woman who usually goes with me to these appointments and she keeps me in check and makes the waiting worthwhile.


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