Anyone else ever feel like background noise to other people? You know, like putting on CSPAN or some other mundane repetitive channel? The Charlie Brown teacher in real life? It isn’t that you are actually boring it is just that the person you are speaking to is mentally somewhere else entirely.
One would hope that at least those in the medical profession (who you pay to care about what you are saying) would feign interest when their patient is speaking. It is not always the case.
I’ve been going to therapy for a long time, and I go through lulls where I don’t particularly need it so much. However, at one time I was finding it pretty much impossible to get an appointment that was even in the realm of “soon”. (Clearly this is probably a sign I should keep a consistent schedule because admittedly, I will keep putting it off and then suddenly – BOOM – there it is – an insurmountable tragedy that I need immediate help dissecting. Hmm…breakthrough moment just there.)
I was even trying to get in at new practices to see if a different therapist could help better. Struck out left and right. I finally managed to make an evening appointment with my usual therapist. I show up…and he LEFT. Yes, reader. He forgot that he wasn’t done for the day. I burst into tears in the middle of the reception area, feeling like not even the person I PAY could care about me. (I was low that day emotionally and not totally rational there with that logic. Gotta maintain that dramatic quotient as a woman…) My therapist called and texted me to apologize and he has never forgotten an appointment again (Though I did wonder how forgettable I was…like aren’t my problems interesting enough? Who forgets a patient?).
Surprisingly (or maybe not to those already bored by this), that wasn’t the most unimportant I felt to a physician.
I decided a couple years ago to start medication for my mental health. It was a humbling experience to take that step but that isn’t the point of this story. I really don’t make medical appointments unless I really need them and, in this instance, I was having a lot of physical symptoms to stress. I got my appointment for first thing in the morning.
I showed up 10 minutes early and was taken into an exam room relatively right away. Twenty minutes went past and I was told (not for the first time that morning) that the doctor would “be right in”. I couldn’t help but ask if they were serious. That poor nurse was just trying to do her job and it was probably too early for my sarcastic jokes. She said maybe he was in his office but in reality he wasn’t even in the building.
This doctor did not come into the exam room until I had been waiting an hour. AN HOUR. For the FIRST appointment of the day. (Mystery solved for why doctors are always behind…) I didn’t get an apology or an acknowledgement for why he was that late. Just sat down to get started like it was totally normal to start the day off an hour behind on your patients. It’s fine. I don’t have a job I need to get to…
As I am describing my ailments that I was nearly positive were not a figment of my imagination, he fell asleep. Right across from me in that little stool too small for his adult butt, he had his cheek in his hand and his eyes drooped slowly closed. I mean, before when he was taking “notes” his eyes were droopy, but his pristine cursive never faltered. This though…this was a full send to slumber. At least I wasn’t in one of those paper gowns that don’t leave anything to the imagination (including thoughts of dignity). I mean if I’m basically naked AND you are falling asleep AND I paid to be here…that is just sad. This was still pathetic, but at least it wasn’t in the realm of double pathetic.
Maybe I am writing this to tell you that crying is key or to say that the first appointment of the day is no guarantee for prompt and dedicated attention. Maybe this is just to remind you that your problems are important…even if you get stood up by your therapist and your physician falls asleep when you are explaining how sick you have been feeling.