Waiting Room Friends

Since retirement almost two years ago I have found my daily calendar populated with medical appointments. Dentist, surgeon, family doctor, Physiotherapy, MRI, Ultra sound, nerve conductivity testing and then start over. What I have realized from all the appointments is that the waiting rooms are interesting places to spend time. It is best not to be in a hurry as it is not your time that counts but the time of the specialists or technicians.

I usually carry a book with me to avoid reading ancient, dog eared magazines but lately I have found that it is not necessary as the other folks waiting their turn have stories to share. They will relate personal tales with complete strangers. I often leave the waiting room feeling that I don’t have the right to feel sorry for myself.

In the Fracture Clinic waiting room they have chairs of different heights. Higher chairs are there for people who have difficulty getting in and out of regular chairs. That was the only chair available for me during a visit and I when I sat my feet swung off the floor. A lady sitting across from me commented that I looked like “Edith-Ann”. For those who aren’t old enough to know, Edith-Ann was a child character created by the actor Lily Tomlin for the television show “Laugh In”. She would sit in an oversized chair and swing her feet and talk in a childlike voice about the events of her young life.

At physio an older gentleman was relating to me how he spent twenty-one days in ICU and was not expected to survive but survive he did and a few days after he returned home his wife fell and broke her leg. He went from being the patient to being the caregiver. This did not bother him and he seemed happy to be alive and able to care for his loving wife. It gives support to the vow they must have shared long ago; “in sickness and in health”. All this was learned in the matter of minutes.

Tuesday I shared the waiting room with a 23 year-old young man who was in with a broken arm. It was his third break and his Mom who drove him to the appointment shared he had broken his leg when he was twelve. I heard him telling everyone about his latest skate boarding accident and another time how he had been hit by a car while riding his bicycle. As if that wasn’t enough he had been hit by a car while skate boarding. I have no idea what his name might be but ‘Evel Knievel” comes to mind.

A woman sat beside me and told of the pain she is experiencing due to knee surgery. She told the doctor that she has asked at least six other people who have had the same surgery how quickly they recovered and everyone told of a fast and total recovery. This left her depressed and the doctor told her to stop asking other folks about their recovery. At first I thought that was a cruel response but he went on to tell her “everyone heals and recovers at different rates”. In her case she had ignored the symptoms for thirty years and had a much longer road to recovery.

As a writer I am captivated by the stories around me. People are friendly and willing to share their stories. Thank you to all the interesting people who cross my path.


5 thoughts on “Waiting Room Friends

  1. I related so much to your “waiting room stories” as I too have spent lots of time in many different doctors’ offices and usually enjoy chats with other patients. You wrote of some of your experiences which reminded me so much of mine. Thanks for sharing Lillie!


    P.S…I miss our group and hope to be back in January.

  2. Over the years I have learned to chat with people in lines wherever I find myself. Universally, well almost, they are more than willing to chat. It began when I was a teen and said something kind to the P.O. teller. The smile told me something. Thanks for pointing up these contacts, Roy

  3. My father recenlty shared some of his “waiting room stories” with me. They weren’t stories of what others had shared, but stories of his observations of what went on in the waiting room–mostly interactions with the receptionist. Dad was there while his wife was waiting for, and then having, eye surgery, so he was not as distracted as he might have been had he been the patient. There were quite a few tales. She has to go back in a couple of weeks and Dad hopes to get a “front row seat” near the receptionist. As you say, Lillie, writers are able to capture the scenes and stories of those around them–wherever they are, and being prepared to do this in a doctor’s office or hospital setting makes the wait time go faster.

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