Why we all love the waiting game

John Ward
John Ward
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WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward

I suppose, on average, we spend a good part of our lives in the doctor’s waiting room as we sit and get ourselves ready to explain our latest medical problem or ailment, that either has baffled us as mere mortals as to why we have it, or it’s never been featured – so far – on BBC TV’s ‘Casualty’ programme. Another train of thought is that Aunt Edna never had anything like it or suffered much with it or, then again, you didn’t have an Aunt Edna anyway. Over the years I have been in such environments one way or another but mainly one way, and has given me time to scan the magazines that range from how to grow shallots in a window box plus at one time some many years ago, advice on ‘How to make further use of your old Anderson Shelter’ which was a sort of basic shelter against air raids during the Second World War (it was in all the papers, about the war, although I was not about personally at the time, before your mind wanders..) and by ‘further use’ this meant after the war – I think.

The basic concept ‘going to see the doctor’ has been about the same in many respects over the years such as you go to the doctor’s surgery or as it’s mostly called now, the Medical Centre or, as some refer to it, The Last Chance Saloon.

You sign in or make yourself known as having the savvy to book an appointment beforehand and after a visual scan of you to make sure you are breathing, able to walk or propel your self along by whatever means available, you then proceed into the Arrival Lounge or as it’s mainly called, the waiting room, and then should the need arise, select a magazine or similar article to clutch and read. Be warned that this a basic sort of behaviour pattern as you start flicking the pages over to give the impression your are reading the article you have selected but will not deter the person next or across the way from you from leaning over and speaking those golden words: “When’s your appointment for then?”.

Never look at your watch, as this is a fatal move as you will be asked any or all of the following by your new-found fellow waitee : “That’s a nice one, had it long?” (Answers vary but any of the following will do: “If you mean my watch, just around the wrist but I don’t know the exact length of the strap as you ask.” or “I only wear it so I can tell people the time when they ask me) or their next effort: “I was thinking about getting one like that myself – where did you get it from?” (Answers: “It was a gift so I have no idea” or “A Man In A Pub sold me it cheap although I really wanted a pint of his best Old Ditch Rainwater and a packet of crisps, so he was quite a good salesman really...”) then again, the old standby of: “Are you should that’s the right time by your watch?” and the only answer to this is to explain that, due to the weight of the watch and the strap, you only use thin batteries in it, but you are considering getting a thicker battery soon, orat about quarter to eleven, depending on your appointment time.

In some cases you will have noted the enquirer also had a watch but as this is a medical situation as such, the reason he asks you is, he likes to have a second opinion.

Reason to be Cheerful patient – I overheard someone saying to another that as their mother had spent so much time sitting in doctor’s waiting rooms over the years with various aliments, that they were thinking of having the inside of her coffin lid painted the same colour Magnolia as the waiting room walls as it brought ‘comfort’ to her as she was always nearly ‘last to be seen’ and had grown used to it after many hours staring at it.

The Coughing Dodger is the next one that will or can occasionally crop up. This is the patient who is sitting coughing away, while turning his or her head in any and all directions in an attempt to spread the said ailment, as they firmly believe that a ‘problem shared is a pain in the throat’ or it will be, if they do it again in the direction of Stan, who is growing wary of being coughed at as he tries to dodge the onslaught of further coughing in his direction. Only time and a good clout will tell.

Problem Child syndrome, then. I once sat next to a mum and her young off-sprung who had, she told the receptionist, ‘lost a crayon up his left nostril’ while larking about impressing his friends while colouring in his books. We patients overheard mum explaining that it was about a week ago (!) it happened and although he had not said anything to his parents about it, she said she thought it was funny that a lot of his colouring books didn’t have the sky coloured in, and by looking at his set of crayons had worked out the blue one was missing. True, it was quite a small crayon, but this was the missing one and then she proceeded to bend his head back to show the receptionist where it was and added: “His father can’t get it down using pliers and his screwdriver, so we are here to see Nurse.”

There are countless others: “I know what’s wrong with me but I want the doctor’s opinion – Doreen had the same you know, and she had some nice pills he gave her” was a classic, or “I’ve took time off work to come here today, so I hope he finds something wrong with me.”

On a saner level, I think the medical world does wonders – also the unsung heroes who are the receptionists, who put on their body armour, crash hats and bulletproof goggles and check there is no fluff in their hearing trumpets, who go and man the all important Reception Desks to await the next combatant that makes the humble gladiator of Roman times seem a pushover ... as opposed to their next Much Spotted – but responding to treatment now since using the cream – Patient.

Right then, Nurse – next if you please!