Jerry Nelson: Waiting In waiting rooms
We have lately been spending some time in waiting rooms waiting for my wife’s medical appointments.
My wife has innumerable fans (probably more than me), so please rest assured that we’re just dealing with some ordinary arthritis. For the most part, her docs are doing the types of things that are commonly required after a certain number of miles, on par with rotating the tires or installing new shock absorbers.
I don’t mind hanging out in a waiting room so long as there’s something to read. Even a tattered and outdated magazine will do. By the way, did you know that Jennifer Aniston is thinking about quitting “Friends?”
I feel a twinge of nostalgic guilt whenever my wife and I wait in a doctor’s waiting room. It brings back memories of the early months of our marriage, when we discovered that she was expecting. We were soon making regular visits to her OB/GYN for prenatal checkups.
She always thanked me for going with her on those appointments. But I felt guilty about the whole thing because I could have been considered sort of maybe somewhat a little bit responsible for her condition.
I try my best to avoid visiting sawbones. Nothing hurts and everything works, although now that I’ve said that, the health gods will probably punish me for indulging in the sin of boastfulness.
Good health is a blessing, albeit one that can be swept away in a twinkling. For instance, you might be clumping down the same set of stairs that you have descended for forty years when an upper step unexpectedly dematerializes. You begin to topple, and time slows to a crawl as you flail through space. While you plummet, you recall that Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation states that a falling object accelerates at the rate of 32 feet per second per second.
You bounce down the stairs and lie in a lumpy heap. You can tell that something deep within your undercarriage has sustained major damage. In your mind’s eye, you can already see all the time you’ll be wasting in waiting rooms and that a sadistic physical therapist named Ragnar will soon become a big part of your life.
Or perhaps one day you find a weird something sprouting in the vicinity of your right elbow. You pluck at it and your left big toe abruptly points at the sky. You repeat this experiment several times and get the same result. You find this troubling, so you show it to your physician.
Your doc is baffled, so he refers you to a specialist. The specialist is also mystified, so he enlists an army of consultants. You are given more tests than an ACT Testing Center and are stuffed into computerized scanners that look as though they came from the starship Enterprise. Every orifice is probed, including some that you didn’t even know you had.
Your medical chart becomes thicker than an unabridged Webster’s dictionary. The medical professionals are very kind and extremely courteous, but you can’t help but wonder if they see the heft of your chart and think “Woo-hoo! Vacation in Tahiti!”
At long last, the final test results arrive. Your doctor sits you down and says, “I’ve got good news and bad news.”
“Give me the good news first,” you reply, wishing that this whole thing had remained a parlor trick.
“The good news is that they are going to name a new syndrome after you!”
Everyone will need medical attention at some point. Sometimes, deciding whether or not you should see a doctor is a judgment call. There are other times when things are crystal clear.
For example, one summer evening some years ago I was installing a new steel roof on our chicken coop when a piece of sheet metal fell and its edge whacked the back of my wrist. It didn’t hurt, but when I flexed my hand forward, an astonishingly deep gash winked open. “Hunh,” I thought, “It isn’t bleeding. Can’t be too bad.”
Moments later, an alarming quantity of blood began to pour from the cut. I trotted to the house, wrapped my wrist in a dishtowel and drove to the ER.
My wife came home a while later and found a gruesome scene in our kitchen. This was pre-cell phones, so she had no way of contacting me and I hadn’t thought to leave a note.
As the doctor embroidered my wrist, the ER’s phone rang. It was my wife. I spoke to her and explained what a klutz I’d been and apologized for scaring the bejeebers out of her. Again.
But at least we hadn’t wasted any time in the waiting room.
If you’d like to contact Jerry Nelson to do some public speaking, or just to register your comments, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His book, “Dear County Agent Guy,” is available at Workman.com and at booksellers everywhere.