For those who have read my blog posts in the past, you may be aware I don’t have much tolerance for long wait times at a doctor’s office. I think if a doctor is behind, the office staff, nurse or doctor should inform a person of the approximate wait time and give continuous updates. There must be an APP for that. The airlines do it why don’t doctors offices.
I can’t say I have much patience around this issue. When it gets to be an hour and no one has let my client or me know how much longer it will be, I start tapping my foot. My neurotransmitters start misfiring and heading toward the cranky pathways.
Because this so bothers me, I suppose it was time for the universe to teach me a lesson in patience. The lesson came to me via my client, Allan and his wife, Gail.
A little history on Allan (he let’s me write on him and approves of using his name).
Allan is in a wheelchair from a neurological disorder called paraneoplastic syndrome that went undiagnosed for several years. Treatment has stabilized the symptoms but he has hearing and vision loss and probably won’t walk again. Gail is his strength and rock. She is an amazing caregiver and has learned how to get what she needs from the system.
Several weeks ago, I was sitting in the oncologist office with Gail and Allan. The office is not associated with a major specialty center. It is run by a committed group of doctors, nurses and office staff. There is a small infusion room for chemotherapy. It is always crowded because patients choose this facility for the kindness, compassion and personal care.
On this visit, Allan had a follow up appointment scheduled. In the past, when I was there, we’d see the doctor after an infusion, so I never really noticed the time. At this visit, the clock hit the deadly one hour mark. I think I was starting to twitch.
I turned to Gail and said something like “ What is the deal, it has been an hour and Allan hasn’t even been called for pre visit labs. I am going to…”
Gail put her hand on me and very gently said, “Patience, Hari. We are fine.”
I continued as if I hadn’t heard her and started to repeat my statement, when Gail again gently said, ”Hari, Patience. It is OKAY. We can take this wait because we are cared for.”
I could feel my neurons skidding to a halt and slamming into each other. Patience? Patience? My brain screamed. And then it stopped. I looked at Gail and she was smiling at me.
It took me a moment to understand that Allan and Gail felt safe and cared for at this office. The people treated them with dignity and respect. Allan has had to endure rejection from some doctors who couldn’t be bothered with accepting his insurance or understanding his illness and treatment. At this office, who he was and his situation were understood. The office would do anything to make it work financially and medically.
I had missed the absolute essence of the office, the hope and assistance it offered to everyone who walked in the door. I realized I had spent too much time at the big centers where systems can be cumbersome, cold and unyielding. I think the big systems have something to learn from this small and busy office.
I learned from Gail that patience was easy because the end result is caring, support, love and good medical care. I can only hope my brain has created the patience pathway and can be accessed when called upon. The real test will be when I go to see my primary care.
So thank you Gail and Allan for teaching this old dog a new trick.