Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Hospital appointment.

I’m in a hospital waiting room reading a book in which the character is sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, just one of life’s little coincidences, I suppose. This is the book…

I’m bang on time for my appointment. I am told there is only one person ahead of me in the queue. I will be next, the smiling nurse says. She is silver haired and solicitous.

I tell myself this is fine. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. I have my book and my laptop and plenty of cash to pay for the car park and the boys have a key to let themselves in at home, so let them take as long as they like - see if I care.

But the thing is I do care because the waiting area is packed and low-ceilinged and hot and after two chapters of my book, a trawl through my emails, and a time check - 40 minutes - I can feel impatience rising up in me like acid up a litmus strip.

There’s a crying toddler to my right and an elderly lady giving her companion a run-down of her current ailments behind. I don’t want to be here. I am not an ill person. I have no intention of being an ill person. I don’t want to be near any ill people: it might be contagious.

The nice nurse appears again, she’s very sorry but someone has had to go in before me even though it is not his turn, this is because he is a prisoner. 

I hadn’t noticed him before but now I see him to my left and I am not really sure how I missed him. He is shaven haired, tattooed, and shackled to a guard with a large pair of silver handcuffs.

I watch the duo shuffle awkwardly past me out of the waiting area, onwards and outwards to the sunny uplands of the doctor’s consulting room.

I briefly glimpse the doctor inside as his door opens and sharply closes again. The glimpse is just long enough to discern that he is young and tall and handsome and possibly slightly sweaty of forehead (well he would be, wouldn’t he?). These are all things I like in a doctor, bar the sweat - actually even including the sweat. 

I hope I get that doctor when it’s my turn, I think. But I don’t. Because after an hour has gone by, when I completely give in and go up to the desk and ask politely when I will be seen, I'm told this is the wrong clinic, that a mistake has been made, I should have been given an appointment for the allergy clinic, this is ENT, so sorry, you will have to come back another day.

And what do I then? What do I do with that bitter impatience? I say, okay, well, that’s quite annoying because I’ve just waited for ages and someone could have told me before but, you know, I know it’s not THEIR fault and, never mind, actually thank you for letting me know and, well…

Because above all I want to appear reasonable, likeable, healthy, something set apart from the sickness around me.

And then I walk out of the hospital building, past the infirm in the corridors, the children and babies and mothers and old folk and those wheeled around on gurnies or wheelchairs, right out of the main entrance, past the M&S where tired nurses and anxious relatives are buying biscuits and wine, past an open window from where a small child suddenly cries out, on without stopping to the car park and my car, where I fling open the door and dive into the driver’s seat and sit for a moment and think: I am so glad to be well, and free. 

Love E x


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