Modern Medicine

Waiting For Dr. Larson

The first installment in the Dr. Larson series.

Most people are surprised that my cholesterol level is off the charts because I do not look like a high cholesterol person. I fit nicely into the insurance recommended weight charts, and other than the occasional bag of Cheetos, I eat fairly well. Did you know that if you wash down Cheetos with a glass of red wine, it cancels out the fat? It’s true. I think that has been medically proven by the doctors at Frito-Lay.

So after my annual exam recently, my doctor suggested that given my age and family history, I schedule an appointment with a cardiologist. So I made an appointment, arranged for a babysitter and then waited three months for my appointment.

When the big day arrived, I showed up at the doctor’s office thirty minutes early to fill out paper work, just as the scheduler had advised. The waiting room was packed and I was the only person there under 75. I waded in among the sea of white heads and did sort of a double Dutch jump rope move to make my way through the tangle of Hush Puppies, canes and walkers to the only seat that was left on the far side of the room. And really and truly, except for the fact that there were no talking animals, I felt as though I had landed in a Far Side cartoon.

I should say here that I really don’t mind going to a doctor appointment these days because I can usually count on a couple of hours to read magazines. With a very busy little boy underfoot, magazines and uninterrupted reading time are two luxuries I no longer have. The only magazines left were well-worn copies of Popular Mechanics and Consumer Reports. Yawn. No magazines, but at least I had time. As a former Girl Scout, I was prepared and had brought a brand new book that I had been looking forward to reading.

As I sat down and cracked open my book for the first time, that wonderful inky new-book smell rose up to greet my nose. Aaaah! Is there anything more seductive? I secretly hoped the doctor was running late so that I could make out with my book.

The elderly lady sitting to my right looked like Granny Clampett and had a big black purse that she had strapped over her head and across her shoulder like a safety patrol belt. It was resting in her lap and probably weighed as much as she did. She clutched it as though I or a sudden breeze might snatch it away. “Honey, do you have the time?” she asked pushing her glasses back into position on the bridge of her nose only to have them slide back down. When I told her, she said “Oh my. I’ve been here nearly two hours.” And that seemed to set off some sort of geriatric chain reaction. The guy sitting next to her, leaned forward on his cane and boomed in that voice that belied his ability to hear, “Two hours? You’re lucky! Why I’ve been here two hours and forty-five minutes. I’m going to miss Judge Judy!” Then the lady next to him said, “Well I can do ya one better than that And so it went all the way around the room until the person to my left said he had been there for six days, but then again, he thought FDR was still president.  Nothing more fun than a game of competitive waiting.

I was half way through my book before I looked up again and noticed that I’d been waiting to see the doctor for two hours.  I went to the window and asked the person behind the desk how much longer she thought it would be.  “Not too much longer,” she said with a straight face.  A large woman with short gray hair was sitting next to the reception window.  She was wearing tinted glasses and was resting her clasped hands on her sizeable belly.  She gave the impression that she could be formidable in a brick wall kind of way.   She overheard my question and sniffed loudly in disbelief.  I looked at her and she shook her head ever so slightly back and forth in a way that could only mean one thing:  liar, liar, pants on fire.  I looked back at the receptionist who shrugged her shoulders and slammed shut the window that separated her from what could potentially become an angry mob of Hush Puppies.  I asked the brick wall lady if she thought it would be longer.  She reported that she had never gotten in to see the doctor in less than three hours. Frankly, I wasn’t too disappointed since it meant that I might get to finish my book.

Two hours later I finished my book.  I closed it shut and sighed.  And then I held it in my lap patting it like a sleeping baby.  I looked across the room to see the two tired magazines crumpled up in a potted plant.  Had there been an incident and I missed it?  I looked at my watch and did the math.  I had been waiting for four hours.  Now that I didn’t have a book to read, I began to feel sort of violated and outraged to have been kept waiting so long.

About that time, someone several seats down mentioned that they had been waiting two and a half hours. Someone else piped up that they had been waiting three hours.  “That’s nothing,” I moaned, “I’ve been here four hours.” And so it went around the room.

I began to wonder if maybe these people were my age when they got here.  Maybe I really was in a Far Side cartoon…

Visit Best of Antique Mommy for Episodes 2 and 3 in the Dr. Larson Series.

30 thoughts on “Waiting For Dr. Larson

  1. OK so I don’t feel to pathetic about actually enjoying the wait as an opportunity to read, until of course it exceeds the ridiculous and I feel abused. You need to syndicate your essays as a column. They are too good not to share outside of blogland.

  2. I’m sorry you had that wait, but here’s what I want to know… What was the book and would it be worth MY time? 🙂

    And honey, I think you live in the Far Side… Crazy, but worth every smile.

  3. The saddest part of this waiting is that most of those people might only have another forty-eight hours to live and they spent four of them with the crumpled magazines and a crappy potted plant. Then, they finally see the “great one” and come out with pills that make them feel worse than the plant and a diet that the dog would not eat!

  4. While I love your writing, I thought your story was sad. Sorry – as a public health person, I can only think, “Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America” and since you have to wait 4 hours (minimum!) to be seen, I guess it’s not hard to understand why.

  5. Are you serious? You waited FOUR hours? There is absolutely NO excuse for that. I can sure understand enjoying a little time for yourself, but if he’d have seen you promptly, you could have gone to Starbucks and read your book! Hubster would fire the entire office staff if someone waited four hours to be seen!

  6. You are SUCH a good writer. I can’t believe I was just enthralled by a report on a 4 hour visit in the waiting room.
    And I am SO going to be the “selectively deaf” person who’s been waiting way longer than anyone, in like 45 years. And, your last statement has had me laughing all day.

  7. Not a chance I would have waited that long. Not even close to that. This just makes me disgusted for you, even though you kindof enjoyed it.


  8. I don’t know how you take a really aggravating thing like this and make it so hysterical. I’m laughing out loud. There’s just no way I could have sat there for half a day waiting. I mean, it sounds as though the company was entertaining but it would have made me crazy, especially after arriving 30 minutes early. Take the laptop next time. At least you can spend all that time doing something productive.

  9. I have heart disease and often frequent the cadiologist, I have never had to wait more than 20 minutes ever, that was crazy. Iam in my 40’s and all the elderly people say to me all the time, honey you are way to young to be here. I agree butI had open heart surgery before I hit 40 so I have to get checked alot.
    The elderly are so funy to watch and listen to. I hope your tests come back great.

  10. I have heart disease and often frequent the cadiologist, I have never had to wait more than 20 minutes ever, that was crazy. Iam in my 40’s and all the elderly people say to me all the time, honey you are way to young to be here. I agree butI had open heart surgery before I hit 40 so I have to get checked alot.
    The elderly are so funy to watch and listen to. I hope your tests come back great.

  11. I hope you finally got in to see the old coot. That is ridiculous and you probably made a co pay. He should have paid you. I am going through some type of heart incidents/cholosterol / heart attacks myself right now and I, too, feel I am way too young although I am a little older than you. Don’t put off getting the tests you need. I have just had my 2nd heart attack. Way too scary! I live in a small town and have been way too trusting with doctors around here, I fear. I am headed to Houston next week for a second opinion and I’ll gladly wait if I have to but I think it is so rude and I just might have to let them know I think so if I wait 4 hours! Good luck to you! Love your blog and your antics!

  12. I’ve had this same experience, only when accompanying my mother to the doctor’s office. I’d go to the barber at Ft. Leavenworth and get a buzz cut before sitting in the cardiologist’s waiting room again. I learned more about these stranger’s bowel movements and sleep habits than I ever cared to know.

  13. Did you actually get in? My dad told me all cardiologists keep you waiting. He thinks it’s too make your blood pressure go up so that they actaully have a reason to see you. I’m sure that’s not it.

  14. Did you get in? How did it go? What book did you read? Was it good?

    Obviously my life is so mundane at the moment that these things are of great interest to me. Maybe I should start a business where I could sit in for people who have to wait at doctor’s offices.

  15. Drs offices are great places for reading… as long as the tv isn’t blaring in the corner.

    I, too, always take a ton of reading. But I do think that a dr. that doesn’t manage scheduling is being rude. RUDE.

  16. I can’t believe you had to wait so long!

    But this was a hilarious post. 🙂

    One of my friend’s mom’s used to send invoices for her wasted time to doctors who kept her waiting longer than 30 minutes. Even at minimum wage, sounds like you could make a killing off of this place!

  17. Time to get a new cardiologist!

    I also have high cholesterol (I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours) 🙂 and saw a cardiologist until he called and canceled our appointment last year, and never rescheduled. I guess he’s not too worried about me afterall.

    Anyway, 4 hours is way, way, way too long! I never waited more than 20 minutes. Of course…I always brought my babies with me…maybe therein lies the key! lol.

  18. I worked in a doctors office. We’d get embarrassed if they had to wait more than 30 minutes, or if the doctor, god forbid, was running late and hadn’t shown up and the waiting room was full. Four hours – I’d have been on the phone booking with someone else. Unless he’s in there doing open heart surgery on somebody that’s just crazy. Of course, I get a loaner car if they change my oil. Maybe I’m not the best gauge as to what is too long…

  19. Four hours is an outrage! It makes me wonder how long the actual appointment was by comparison. I have waited for hours to see a doctor, but never that long … maybe this doctor assumes most of his patients are old and takes their time for granted. Gotta hand it to you for not being upset.

  20. This reminds me of a conversation I read about once.

    Nurse: The Dr. will see you now, but first we must get your weight.

    Patient: 4 hours. Any more questions?

    Perhaps if a few more people answered this way and refused to get on the actual scale, life in the Dr. office would be different.

  21. I’ve just spent the past hour or so enjoying your writing…..ooooh that sounds like such a spammer thing to say, sorry. Anyway I’ll be back, thanks for making me laugh.

  22. It’s unconscionable that doctor made you and those poor older people wait for so long! Enjoyed your column tho, esp. the double-dutch jump between the hush puppies.
    Rock on!

  23. I am new to read your blog, I have never read blogs before , but I will this one entirely,after reading about waiting for Dr Larson. I LOVE elderly folk…we are just so truely simpatico. I would have fit right in. I am 45 with 3 daughters , 15 ,11 and a 5 year old who made me an antique mom as well. I would have relished the respite from my life in that waiting room for a while but after 5 hours ..I may have started having paranoid delusions.

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