Friday, November 10, 2006

Thoughts on waiting...and waiting... and waiting

I usually think of myself as a patient person. In general, I suspect that I am. But, every now and then I am reminded that I am not as patient as I would like to be. Thursday, I had a late afternoon doctor's appointment. I usually schedule morning appointments, but this one was scheduled without my input and I chose not to reschedule. With my morning appointments, I sometimes have to wait some, but not much. But, I have now come to expect that afternoon appointments have a days worth of delays for one reason or another built into them. Sometimes it is the doctor. Sometimes it is a sequence of previously scheduled patients that throw things off. Friday was a good example.

I was in a rush because I wanted to drop off the kids with a friend who graciously agreed to watch them for me. I had to get child number two up from her nap, get her ready quickly, bundle both kids into the car and find a house I hadn't actually been to before. I gave myself plenty of time since I knew that traffic at that time of day would start to be thick. I dropped the kids off in a happy mood, since they were discovering new toys they hadn't played with before, and I hit the road 45 minutes before my scheduled appointment. I hit some slow traffic, but managed to get a good parking place at the hospital and register for my appointment 20 minutes early. Then I started to wait. I read a magazine. I did some people watching. There was a family with kids in a waiting room across the hallway who had endearing children who were singing songs and playing ring around the rosie with some other patient's kids. Not a bad wait really. I was early. I can wait. My appointment time came and went and I was still waiting. They called the names of people who were there before me. They started calling names of people that came after me. OK, I'm still patient, I can think of reasons they might need to be first. About 30 minutes after my scheduled appointment they have called everybody except me and start calling names of people who weren't there. I'm starting to wonder what's going on. Not long after this, the metal gate at the registration window goes down and the receptionist takes off with the change bag to accounting. My patience is sorely tested and I'm calculating how long it has been since I dropped off my kids. Will I need to knock on the door to remind someone that I'm there? Will I need to reschedule for another day? Fortunately, they did finally call me in before very many more minutes passed. The nurse was apologetic and said that it had been a crazy day. When the doctor came in he knew I had been waiting a very long time and offered to tell me the reason.

Want to know why? Two other patients who had later appointments than myself, registered earlier and were taken back earlier. No noble reason. In fact the doctor would have preferred to have seen me first, since my pregnancy is an easy case. The other patients were there because of problems.

Well, all went well with my appointment and I was walking back to my car 2 hours after I woke child number two from her nap. I still had to fight rush hour traffic to pick up the kids. My friend tried to feed them dinner since I was running so late. She was amused that child number one ate only corn and child number two ate nothing but ham. Yep, one vegetarian and one carnivore in this family. We finally got home almost three hours after leaving. I had exactly 15 minutes to pull together dinner for us when my husband got home.

And guess what? Yup. My next appointment is a similarly scheduled late afternoon appointment. That was the best time they could get for me. Maybe I should try to register 30 minutes early to beat out the other patients. Nah. Sometimes going too early, just doesn't make things better.

I just hope I don't have to practice my patience as much next time.

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