Not A Laughing Matter


Dear Nurse Practitioner,

I understand you guys get backed up.  I get it.  Especially when you had to reschedule my appointment for the following week after you got sick and had to cancel my original appointment.  I bet you packed the schedule tight to get us all worked in.  And my 11:15 appointment was likely at the end of the morning batch of patients, so I knew I’d bear the brunt of all the little delays that built over the course of the morning.  But I also knew that my time with you would be brief so I was hopeful that I’d be back at work by 1:00.

So when I wasn’t called back until 11:40, I was mildly annoyed but not upset or worried about my time.  These things happen.  The nurse took my blood pressure and then told me to strip from the waist down.  You’d be in shortly, she told me.  So I wrapped the little pink paper blanket around my waist and hopped up on the table.

I played Candy Crush until I ran out of lives and my back began to hurt.  I laid back on the table, propping my feet up in the stirrups to relieve pressure on my lower back, altered the time on my phone to get more lives, and continued to wait.  By 12:20, I was beginning to wonder if I needed to call work and reschedule my afternoon.  Eating lunch before my 1:15 meeting was looking very questionable.  Still, these things happen.  So while I had hoped the appointment would go faster, I still wasn’t upset.  Just resigned.

And then you walked in.  Forty five minutes after I stripped for the exam.  I suppose you were nervous about how I might react to having been kept waiting for so long.  You probably thought some humor would defuse the situation.  If you could just laugh and get me to laugh with you, then you could believe everything is ok.  We could be friends.  Or at least friendly.

You have a strange sense of humor though.  Let me suggest that when you have left a woman lying half naked on an exam table for so long that her hips and back have seized up to the point that she isn’t sure she can scoot that bare bum to the edge of the table, you might want to just apologize for the delay and promise a speedy conclusion.

Joking with her about how long she was left waiting is a terrible idea.  I bet you were wondering how long you were going to have to wait, huh? *chuckle* *chuckle* Silence from me.  Probably thought we should feed you lunch, huh? *chuckle* Silence.  That’s the least we could have done, huh?  You’re probably getting pretty hungry.  You ought to at least be offered a soda, right? *chuckle* Silence as I struggle into position.  Even airlines offer you a soda for a one hour flight, right? *chuckle* *chuckle* More silence.  I was on a one hour flight the other day and they rolled out the beverage cart!  I couldn’t believe it! *chuckle* Silence.

I was silent because I didn’t want to “make it all ok” by laughing, even fake laughing.  And I didn’t know how to respond.  What did you expect me to say?  Yes, in fact, I was hungry.  And about ready to use the bathroom again, as I said when you asked me if my bladder was empty and I said it was when I entered the room some time ago.  And now that you mention it, wow, it would have been kind of nice if the nurse had offered me something to drink.  Or at least come in and told me how much longer it was going to be.  Or check that I was ok.  Something. Now that you mention it.

Please remember that I was not particularly upset before you walked in the door.  But after you went on and on about the delay, you convinced me.  It was excessive.  And uncomfortable.  And your joking about it obnoxious and a bit offensive.  And now I’m upset.  So thanks.  And please do me a favor.  When I come back in about five years, just come in and say, “Hey!  Sorry about the delay.  I’m going to get you out of here as quick as I can.”  That’d work swell for me.


The Girl Who Waited

(Sorry, couldn’t resist a nod to Doctor Who in the signature line…)