Waiting time


I’m in the hospital waiting room writing this blog, which is where I seem to spend half of my life these days. In fact, I would argue that I spend more of my life in the company of doctors than I do with my own husband. No, actually, that’s not true. Because, in all honesty, most of my time is spent in waiting rooms. With complete strangers.

So here we are once again sitting and waiting. Waiting and sitting. It has been known for this situation to occur six times in one week. As a constant, I find myself waiting minimally once a week, either at the hospital or at the doctors.

It’s not that we’re a really sick family or something. We’ve had our problems, don’t get me wrong. And I certainly wouldn’t describe us as the fittest family in the world. Additionally, there are a lot of us. But at times I have to say, I feel ridiculous. And sometimes I’m just plain annoyed. But my general feeling is one of despair. I mean, it’s not how you want your life to be, is it? Just sitting there. Waiting. In a room full of strangers. No one communicating with one another. The odd courteous “Good morning” is of course uttered and the odd pleasant “Goodbye”. But essentially we all sit there in silence, thinking our own thoughts. Which in my case is generally, “Get me the bloody hell out of here!”.

Today, in an attempt to spend quality time with my family, I’ve brought my husband along. Well, actually, he also has an appointment. At the dentist. Every time I think of the dentist, (after my initial panic attack and then realisation I’m not the one with the appointment), I calmly remember Lori, and her brief encounter with a desire to be a dentist. It had always been a burning question in me (every time I had to go to the dentist, actually). What kind of person decides to be a dentist? For sure some kind of sadist! At this point, I should actually say that our dentist is really nice, especially when I don’t have to see her. Then my own little daughter comes to me and tells me of her new career choice. Wide eyed: I could finally ask the desired question. Why? She answered without a moment’s hesitation: “Well, I wouldn’t have to study as much as another type of doctor and I could pull peoples teeth out!” I’m a little intimidated by my daughter.

My husband, whose consultation was an hour after Aden’s, has subsequently been through his whole appointment. Including a forty minute round trip, as well as being drilled, and is now back with us for our ‘date’. We are of course still waiting. We have, seen two doctors actually, and are now waiting to see the professor. Should we be nervous? Flattered? Intrigued? I’m none of these. We met him last week and I thought he was an idiot.

At this point I should probably divulge that Aden had an infection, with a very high temperature, some weeks ago. Following that, he apparently started to bleed underneath the skin. One evening he came into the lounge and after no actual injury, had several strange bruises and swellings around his feet and lower legs. The follow-up then being a strange ‘rash’. However, due to the fact that these swellings and bleeds took a new form on a daily basis, he ended up in hospital for a week. They were testing him for a million different causes including TB and heart malfunctions. Since his stay in hospital, he’s attended outpatients at least once a week. He had visited the GP at times as frequently as every second day. Then, we met ‘the professor’ who exclaimed, “Eczema”…The junior doctor looked baffled. She was left, though, with no choice, due to his high standing, but to write-up eczema as a diagnosis. She informed me repeatedly, that on my return to the children’s ward, I should tell the pediatrician to call her. I did so. Our pediatrician phoned and expressed her annoyance at the diagnosis. I too was annoyed, as even I, with my minimal medical knowledge knew that that’s not eczema.

This time, however it’s different. The idiot is overruled.

We’ve been moved now. To a ‘waiting corridor’. Strange new experience for me. All the doctors squeeze between us and the stairs directly in front of us. At one point a doctor stops to talk to another patient causing a traffic jam. Continuing her conversation, a second doctor almost becomes a contortionist, forcing herself through, the tiny gap. I am curious. Why are we sitting here?

We’re taken by a nurse into a small cubicle. Aden has to put disposable slippers on. We wait for a little while and then the nurse returns and tells us we are not to talk. She says everyone can hear us. I have no idea why that’s a problem and feel a little agitated. We wait as quietly as possible.

We’re taken into a room. There’s a seat at the front and rows curved around in a semi-circle. Like an amphitheater. Aden is to take centre stage. Our doctor comes forward and I’m given a seat in the first row. There must be at least fifteen white-coated doctors in the room. I’m baffled. Our doctor describes Aden’s previous symptoms and diagnosis’ (omitting the eczema). We’re asked questions. All the doctors circle Aden, pressing a piece of glass randomly against his skin. He looks quite nervous. We’re removed as they discuss his case.

We have a short wait in the main waiting area. Then things start to happen. Apparently, the most inquisitive doctor was the ‘big cheese’. Her influence initiates photos to be taken, more blood tests and the junior doctor finally gaining permission to have a sample operated out of his foot. The request which had been denied last week due to the ill-conceived eczema diagnosis.

Busy, but pleased, the junior doctor contacts the children’s ward. Authority now given to her requests of steroids and further antibiotics. We’re shipped over to the ward on the other side of town.

We wait in a new waiting room. In the meantime my husband has relinquished his date and headed off to the other children, picking up and dropping off. He returns now and we see our pediatrician, who has news for us. Her professor has decided against the expertise of the panel, and, without seeing Aden has alloted a prescription of exactly nothing. No medicine. No more appointments. Just like that.

Gobsmacked. We leave the ward. Six hours after our initial entrance at the dermatology department. Above average time for us. But not a record.

I inform Reini: I am not taking the children to any hospitals anymore. Furthermore, I am going to learn to be a doctor online. He responds evenly, that that won’t be the case in the next few days, when something happens to one of the kids. That I’ll cart them off to the hospital. Quick as a flash. I reluctantly agree…

After all, as I recently informed my mother, (who constantly tells me that you worry about your kids even when they’re adults): A child is for life and not just for Christmas…

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