The Waiting Game - A Tongue-In-Cheek Perspective...... - Poem by Margaret Kollmer
A visit to your doctor is not what anyone would call a favourite pastime, yet it seems that no matter when you happen to have reason to be there, his rooms are always chock-full of patients and ‘impatients’ as well as a fair sprinkling of the ubiquitous born-again hypochondriacs.
Now, I must say at the outset, that I have nothing personal against doctors. Some of them are my best friends. Getting to see them, let alone speak to them, is another story.
With this in mind, I thought I would write a few guidelines for those of us who are currently growing closer to elderlyhood than we would like to admit and who will doubtless have more and more need of these medical whizz-kids as time goes by.
There really is a grave (oops!) need for us to put some effort into our doctor-patient-receptionist relationships with a sharp eye to the suture…er ….future.
It all starts with attitude. Firstly, one needs to accept that if your appointment is for ten o’clock, chances are you may get to see him at eleven or even twelve o’clock. ‘Things’ happen to doctors that don’t happen to the likes of us ordinary folk. They have operations to see to, patients to visit, traffic to get through, tote bets to place and goodness only knows what else. Some even find time for a little on the side. Une salade vert, peut-etre?
Never lose sight of the fact that doctors - and I say this in tones of breathless wonder - are BUSY people. Time, tide and diarrhoea wait for no one. You and I, on the other hand, have little else to do all day but sit around waiting for the next burp, bus or bowling fixture.
Furthermore, you simply must understand that, although you are more than willing to give your G.P. his due and treat him as O Great and Mighty One, all this will get you nowhere unless you realise that he is
only a pawn in the waiting game and that the real force behind his throne is none other than his omniscient receptionist.
So it must be that, for his receptionist, you reserve your sweetest smile, your most dulcet and subservient tone. She of the Powerful Hand and Twitching Lip is is overtly aware of her supreme authority over us mere mortals and we may as well get used to the idea. If She says to sit in THAT chair, ve vill sit in zat chair! Und qvuietly too!
SHE knows what’s ‘best for Doctor’ and she vorks, I mean works, to a System. It matters little if you never know why advance bookings are not allowed, yet when you phone first thing in the morning her Appointment Book is always full.
You also need to know that whilst it is acceptable for her visage to reflect curdled custard, yours must show only sweet and shining light and please, do not make any noises under your breath. Mutters and mumbles are out of the question. Remember that she has the power to slip someone else’s file in front of yours. (Do not pass Go, skip to the loo, pay tax on your integrity. Whatever it takes.)
Now, happily settled in the Waiting Room (was ever a room so aptly named?) use your ‘waiting’ time productively. You may find that by the time you actually come face to face with the Great One, you will have forgotten all about your solar keratosis scabs for the simple reason that they’re on your face where you can’t see them. This is precisely why it is important for you to make mental notes of your aches and pains, learning them parrot fashion until you can recite them off pat or, better still, write them on the palm of your hand. Anything. Just as long as you have total and immediate recall. Visiting a Doctor is not quite the same thing as visiting the divine Hugh Grant. Ignore the murmurings going on around you - it’s just all the other poor souls learning their own medical recantations.
She Who Knows All announces your name over the P.A. Did you hear correctly, you wonder pathetically? You pick up your handbag and look directly at her hoping she will nod kindly to indicate that, yes, it is indeed your name she called. Before you can move, you’re suddenly aware of your name blasting out into all corners of the room and everyone is staring at you as if to say, ‘Get on with it then, you silly old xyz.’ Once inside the Inner Sanctum, remember to keep your eyes submissively low. At all costs be humble. And ignorant.
If you think you have, for example, measles, the pox or whatever, for heavens’ sake don’t say so. It matters not a carpenter’s penny that you have lived within the skin of a sixty year old for as many years and are far more intimate with most parts of what’s inside than he will ever be but don’t let on! There’s more C.I.A. influence in Doctors rooms than this world dreams of.
He, Doctor that is, may or may not invite you to take a seat. Take one no matter what he says. This scores points because immediately you will be seated lower than him in his carefully calculated high backed chair. No plopping down and putting your feet on the desk, mind, but sit down quietly, spinus erectus, never mind your aching lordosis or ankylosing
‘spontaneity’ you’ve been telling him about for years.
You wonder whether you ought to make a slight ‘harrumphing’ noise in your throat to draw his attention to the fact that you are still sitting with a good deal less erectus than before when suddenly he looks up, and asks now-what-seems-to-be-the-matter-hmmm?
This is where is where you come into your own. Briefly. Don’t go overboard. Do a Goldie Hawn! Give him one of those wide-eyed helpless looks, wriggle and squirm a little under his steadfast gaze, giggle softly then gradually allow your body to sink down just a few more inches in your chair. You will now be considerably lower than him.
Easy does it, now, remembering that by training he is a Master in the study of body language just as you are still a pupil doing the same Course. Try to ignore the raging furnace within your head and on no account allow yourself to be intimidated by him into making a quick exit,
You now have his complete attention. You can tell by the way his pen hovers expectantly over his prescription pad. Relax, maintain your composure as well as a cool and sterile head.
In reply to his questions, be quaintly vague and mutter sweet nothings such as ‘er…um…well…er…’ and so forth. He’ll absolutely love you for this because this gives him the opportunity to glance at you briefly and reach out for his Mims.
A quick riffle through the pages allows him to proclaim with studied confidence that you have the measles my dear. Such a spontaneous diagnosis should be rewarded by your eyes welling up with glowing admiration.
With a grand flourish, he rips the now completed script from his pad and tells you he’s putting you on a course of Superethyl-immuno- barbidolls or whatever and it is at precisely this moment when your eyelids droop and your tongue lolls from your half-open mouth. With all visible signs of expression removed, you blurt out tremulously, ‘What’s that, Doctor? ’
Don’t be surprised by the kindly, mellow smile that warmly engulfs his face as he explains his recommended medication. You have just winningly defined the difference between you, a mere Person and him, an MB. Ch.B.
Finally, as you make your departure with a completely illegible (classified, of course) prescription in your hot little hand, don’t go and spoil everything by turning your back on him. Shuffle out backwards, eyes respectfully low, all the while murmuring: ‘Thank you, Doctor. Goodbye, Doctor. Thank you, Doctor.’ No response to your Grand Farewell signifies that once again you have successfully completed a happy and meaningful visit to your doctor.
Don’t forget to smile at the Receptionist on your way out!
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