Thursday, December 21, 2006

The waiting room: yet another upside to social medicine.

Amber and I spent 3 hours in the waiting room at the local clinic this afternoon. We were the first ones in line to see the ONE doctor that was attending to the entire emergency room. We were being really good waiters up until hour 2, when our fellow waiters started getting a bit disgruntled with all the waiting and fed up with the one doctor attending to bleeding people who were rushed in ahead of the rest of us who had properly put in our time in the waiting room.
(I think that's when it dawned on me that perhaps the locked gate and armed guard separating the waiting room from the hospital is there to protect the one doctor from being bombarded by sick and angry not-yet-patients who are desperate to get out of the waiting room).
One elderly lady appointed herself as spokesperson for the rest of us in the waiting room whether we wanted her assistance or not. You know her. We've all been trapped in a waiting room with her at one time or another. "That elderly waiting room lady," is a character that knows no cultural bounds. We'll call today's lady Carmen since she's Venezuelan.
Carmen talks and talks and talks...informs the armed guard that she must get back to see the doctor because she has hypertension and that bleeding car accident victim can just wait his turn like everybody else. The armed-guard must meet at least one Carmen each day, because just ignores her complaints and doesn't even look up from playing games on his cell phone.
But Carmen is a rule-follower and knowing full-well that we were in line ahead of her, she knew she had to get us in to see the doctor as fast as possible if she wanted to get herself to that promised land behind the locked iron gate.
My favorite moment was when she took the liberty of informing the entire waiting room that I needed to see the doctor right away because I was quite obviously in great pain since my face was so pale. I just smiled and translated the comment to Amber...who was the one who wasn't feeling well and had brought me along as the translator.
I really wanted to inform Carmen that my pallor was more likely due to my ethnicity than illness, but I decided against it in favor of keeping our hard earned place in line.


Star said...

Hey ! there is a Carmen in every crowd, isn't there? I think we know why she has hypertension! Keep smiling, querida...I would love to watch you in action!

Chad and Emily Jackson said...

Hi em! I love reading about what you are doing! oh, and don't be too jealous about the dog. you wouldn't want her peeing on YOUR pillow, would you?

em j. :)