So I ended up going to the doctor for my wrist alien test results a week later than intended, because I just couldn’t bring myself to wake up earlier than noon during the B.C. Day long weekend. Partly because I’ve been dog-tired in general lately, but also because fuck you, alien, you don’t own me. We’re going to the beach, and YOU’RE GONNA LIKE IT.
But this weekend I sucked it up and hauled myself out of bed at 8:30 on Sunday, arriving at the clinic 15 minutes before they were officially open for business. I then discovered that 15 minutes early was actually fashionably late, because there were already about a dozen people ahead of me and a 45 minute wait starting from when the walk-in doctor started seeing people at 9.
I don’t know about you, but when I find out I’m in for a long wait my brain goes into dictation mode and starts needlessly narrating everything, which is good because it means I’m officially back in a writing state of mind but bad because my brain doesn’t know when to shut the fuck up. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that the rest of this post is pretty much just a present tense stream of consciousness account of a really boring hour and a bit, but my brain is like, “You should blog that shit and make everyone else suffer along with you!” so here we are.
I leave my name with the receptionist and then pause, weighing my options. I entertain the idea of going for breakfast somewhere, but food and I don’t really get along before 10 o’clock, so instead I plunk myself into one of the surprisingly comfortable reception chairs and automatically pull out my smartphone.
Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten there’s some kind of cellular data hex on this particular city block. It’s worst in the drugstore just down the street, but apparently the disruptive field has now widened to include the clinic as well. My bars rapidly drop from three to two to one before they disappear entirely, replaced by the frustratingly enigmatic “Searching…” This cannot be improved upon, despite twisting myself into various quantum theoretical yoga poses to hold the phone up different ways.
I bet some doctors’ offices have free wifi. I need to find a more upscale physician who understands the importance of Facebooking in the waiting room.
I briefly consider taking a waiting room selfie, then mentally slap myself across the face. I don’t care how early it is or how tired you are or how unfair it is that you have no bars. Waiting room selfies are NEVER okay, do you understand? My inner teenager nods meekly. Besides, you wouldn’t be able to tweet it anyway, you have no bars, remember?
If a girl takes a selfie, but she doesn’t post it on the internet, does the selfie really exist?
Food for thought.
I put the phone back in my bag (after one last glance to confirm that it’s still bar-less, of course), and pull out my Nintendo 3DS instead, because god forbid I have to spend one moment sitting in a chair without keeping my hands occupied with some kind of electronic device. As I settle into the comforting clinical calm of systematically killing viruses in Dr. Mario, the background noise of the waiting room closes in around me.
At 9, the first patient is called in. So, IT BEGINS.
At 9:05, a woman walks in and gives her name, only to walk back out in a huff when she is informed that the wait is now an hour. Amateur.
About five minutes later, another woman arrives, takes the news of the waiting time with good grace, and has a seat. Atta girl.
Several more people come in, are added to the list, and sit down without incident. JOIN US, MWAHAHAHA.
After a while, a man walks up to the desk and attempts to trick the receptionist into diagnosing his condition/evaluating his test results, leading the receptionist to launch into a brilliant stuck record performance of, “I Don’t Know, Sir, You’ll Have to Ask the Doctor.” I hear that album’s gone platinum in waiting rooms across the country.
At 9:25, Good Grace lady walks back up to the receptionist and asks to have her name taken off the list as she has her dog in the car and doesn’t want to leave it in there much longer. Why would anyone bring their dog to the walk-in clinic? Did you honestly think you were going to be in and out in five minutes?
The wait estimate being given now is an hour and a half. Two newcomers have tried to sidestep this by pretending to mishear and repeating, “Oh, half an hour? That’s not too bad,” in the hopes that the receptionist will take pity on them and knock 60 minutes off their wait. She corrects them patiently but sternly. Crestfallen, they take their seats, mumbling about the injustice of it all. You’re the kind of people who pretend to be disabled at Disneyland, aren’t you?
Around 9:40, the phone rings. “Yes, we’re open. It’s about an hour and a half wait. No, an hour and a half. No, unfortunately I can’t put you on the list if you’re not here. No, we don’t do that over the phone, you’ll have to come in. Well, everyone else came here in person. I’m sorry, I really can’t. Okay, goodbye.” Never mind, THAT’s the kind of person who pretends to be disabled at Disneyland.
Quarter to ten. A tourist couple comes in, gives their information, and decides to go for breakfast to pass the time. “Is there anywhere to eat nearby?” the woman asks. The receptionist tells her there are several restaurants and cafés just down the street. “Is there anywhere good?” the woman sneers imperiously. The receptionist blinks, taken aback, and gives the name of a café on the corner. Geez, I think, I hope they find it up to their standards, or she’s going to get an earful later.
9:50 – “The Nut?” Hallelujah! My name is called. I know this just means I’m going to a smaller room to do even more waiting, but at least it’s progress.
The clinic has two examination rooms for walk-ins. I’ve never been in this one. The other one has a cute Norman Rockwell-esque print hanging on the wall that I always look at while I’m waiting. This one has a painting of a little girl who looks like she’s been taking fashion advice from Ronald McDonald. I do not look at her any longer than I have to. Creepy little weirdo.
I do my usual visual sweep of the room. Well, well, otoscope specula dispenser is running low. What kind of shoddy two-bit operation are you people running here? Haha, I kid, I kid. A blood pressure cuff sprawls languidly across the counter beside the sink, and my eyes narrow. As a longtime sufferer of White Coat Syndrome, blood pressure cuffs are my Kryptonite. The cuff’s black rubber bulb manages to look pleased with itself when I lose our staring contest and continue looking around.
The clinic has recently sprung for fancy all-in-one computers in all the examination rooms, and they seem pretty darn nice. I eye the one sitting on the desk and wonder absentmindedly how heavy they are and whether I could get away with scooping it up and making a run for it. Of course I would never do such a thing1, but it’s fun to speculate. I also wonder how many other people have had the same thought.
The doctor comes in just as I begin studying a poster on spinal disc disorders for the second time. Apart from my regular doctor, he’s probably my favorite person at this clinic. He always calls me “dear”, which would irk me coming from most people, but he’s just so darn nice that I don’t mind. I smile as Dear Doctor logs into the computer I was hypothetically about to steal and we go through the usual preamble.
“So, we called you in about some test results. Which tests did you have done?”
“A thyroid checkup and an ultrasound on my wrist.”
“Ultrasound…” He turns away from the computer, which is taking its time loading my information, and looks back at me for a moment. “Sorry, did you say wrist or breast?”
I laugh. “Wrist.”
“Oh, okay.” He looks relieved. The computer decides to cooperate. “Okay, yes, I see it here now. Left wrist, right?”
I suppress a small shudder as I have an involuntary flashback of The Shuffler. “Correct.”
“Okay, sooooo…*click, click*…it looks like the test results show you have a lipoma.” I raise my eyebrows. Lipoma? Like…fat?
“No need to worry, it’s not cancer or anything…” Why does everyone think I think I have cancer? “…it’s just a benign fatty deposit. Fairly common. No treatment required.”
I look down accusingly at my deceptively skinny wrist. You little sneak, how the hell did you hoard enough fat to make that lump? Have you been secretly importing lipids from my hips?
“And you had your TSH checked too?”
I am distracted from my wrist-shaming. “Mm? Oh, yes, a couple of weeks ago.”
“Hmm…that’s funny, I’m not seeing your results here…”
“Really? They should be done by now. It was two Saturdays ago, just next door.”
“Oh yes, they’re definitely done. I see the notice right here to call you in for your results…I just don’t see the actual results on your chart. There’s nothing here. Will you excuse me for a moment? I’ll be right back.”
He marches out into the hall in search of answers. I can hear him questioning the receptionist, followed by shuffling noises. “OH!” Dear Doctor exclaims. “Paper charts!”
He walks back in holding my chart like he’s just unearthed it from a three thousand year old tomb, and I have the sudden realization that at some point in the future there will be people who will have to explain to children what paper was and why we were primitive enough to use it to write on. And the kids are going to look at their teacher the way today’s kids look at you when you tell them about rotary phones, and laugh at how backward the world used to be. Stupid smug children of the future…
My attention snaps back to Dear Doctor as he finally manages to excavate my TSH results, and to the surprise of absolutely no one, it turns out my thyroid has become even more of a lazy ass and I need my med dosage upped. Dear Doctor writes me a new prescription and ushers me out the door with orders to go back to the vampires at the lab for another test in three months to make sure the new dose is okay. My stupid wrist, my lazy thyroid and I are all free to go.
I stopped by the Dead Reception Zone pharmacy on my way back to the car and picked up my new pills. They’re slightly larger than my old ones, which was to be expected, but I was surprised to see they are also an entirely unattractive shade of greyish blue instead of the crisp snowy white that I have grown accustomed to. I don’t know why this bothers me, but it does.
When I got home I stalked into the apartment and tossed my pharmacy bag on my desk. Nutty Hubby asked me how things went, and I’m like, “My wrist is full of fat and my new pills are blue. They’re blue.” So he did the smart thing and gave me a hug. Then I Google-Imaged lipomas, which was a mistake. Then we went to the beach, which was not, and all my cares about wrist fat and ugly pills and smug children of the future just melted away in the ocean waves for a whole blissful afternoon.
But my wrist is still a stupid asshole.
1At least, not after I already gave them my real name.