They can get scary at times, especially if you tend to be the type of person who blurts out what you’re feeling before composing yourself to come up with the best way to say it.
And I’m a pretty emotional person, so I’m afraid I’ve done this -over and over and over again. (Will I never learn?) But it takes me a long time to get there. I always start with trying to be “nice.”
It happened yesterday. My emotions won. But it took a lot for me to finally explode.
As a quick aside, a report came out yesterday from The University of Rochester and The Harvard School of Public Health saying that people who bottle up their feelings have a greater risk of premature death than people who regularly express what they’re thinking.
Since we moved, I’m beginning to change my medical arsenal to more local venues because a). I don’t want to get on I-95 and be aggravated with traffic b). Many of my existing healthcare providers dropped my insurance c). I realized when my husband was sick a few months ago that we really should have local doctors affiliated with nearby hospitals.
So, I started yesterday with a visit to a new dermatologist for a skin check. (Ladies: make sure you do this annually, or even more often if you are freckly, light-skinned and light-eyed, like me).
It was a beautiful day and I decided to take advantage of the fact that I now live in an urban area and could walk. One mile later, I arrived for my 11:00 appointment. The waiting room was jammed.
But when I told the receptionist my name, she look puzzled and her efforts to find my chart, which began as a leisurely finger-stroll through the piles on her desk, became more desperate. Papers flew. She grew agitated.
Finally, she looked up at me, brushing a lock of hair aside. “Your appointment isn’t until 3:15.”
My mistake or theirs? Since I can’t entirely trust my memory lately, I didn’t want to start off the new relationship on an accusatory note. So I decided not to blame either one of us. “No problem,” I said. “I’ll come back later.”
Look on the bright side, I told myself. You get to log another few miles!
I arrived at 3:00 for my 3:15 appointment. To my delight, the waiting room was empty.
“Any chance the doctor can take me early?” I threw in a smile, lest she think me pushy.
And then. I sat. And sat. I watched the room fill up with patients. I read a magazine. And then another. I checked my Iphone more times than necessary, discovering new aps, editing down my contact list. And in the background, I heard names being called, one after the other…but mine was not one of them.
I paced. I approached the reception desk warily. “Um, my appointment was at 3:15, and it’s now 3:45. Will I be taken soon?”
I paced some more. I never realized how uncomfortable waiting room chairs could be. By the time the clock struck 4:15, I was officially churning. Beyond pissed. Pacing with more purpose. Ready to leave. Hating our healthcare system for forcing me to leave my former dermatologist who I’d be using for the past 15 years. Mad at myself for leaving her.
“What’s going on?” This time, I wasn’t so meek. And since I wear my emotions on my
sleeve face, the receptionist kinda got the message.
I know there’s always a wait at the doctor’s office. I go in with that mindset and I’m usually prepared for it. I am usually calm about it. I bring things to do to make the best use of that time. But something was different yesterday. It was a feeling that I was being somehow overlooked, disregarded, treated differently than the other, established patients. It was a feeling of being violated.
A few minutes later, when I was finally taken in, I was in no mood for niceties. I complained to the nurse, who instructed me to strip down and put on the gown, looking at me blankly. And when the doctor walked in, I’m sure he wasn’t too pleased to see me, either. “What kind of way is this to treat a new patient?” I said. “I’ve been waiting for over an hour! Is this the way your practice always runs things?” (Because if it is, I thought to myself, sayonara).
“Sorry…it was a computer glitch. We’ve been working with a new system, and it just hasn’t been working right.”
I laid still, trying to calm down, while his eyes scanned my body for anything unusual and suspect. (If he had scanned my brain, he would have found a lot of activity.)
He scraped off two suspicious moles for biopsy.
“When will I get the results?”
“If you don’t hear from me in 10 days, just assume everything is okay.”
“No, I’ll call you.…I don’t trust your computer system, after all.”
You may also want to read: http://www.healthywomen.org/content/blog-entry/midlife-womans-wish-list-her-medical-team
P.S. I walked home. And by the time I got home, the effects of the extra exercise helped me calm down enough to enjoy a lovely evening.
P.P.S. Don’t forget to let your emotions out. It’s good for your health. Other people may not like it, but that’s the way it goes.