1. Don’t make one.
This is the best method of preventing humiliation and discomfort in a clinical establishment populated with people wearing designer scrubs and shoving needles in your arm. Sadly, your body often chooses to ignore this plan, and insists on having something go awry with one of your organs, systems or ability to fully enjoy frisky physical relationships. That being the case, there are certain steps you should always follow to minimize risk and dissatisfaction.
2. Make sure that the little receptionist lady fully understands that you have entered the building.
Don’t assume that just because you signed the arrival sheet and handed it back to her that she will do whatever she has to do to ensure timely processing. You must solidify your relationship with further validations of your check-in, like making direct eye contact, possibly shaking her hand, speaking positively about a brooch she is wearing, or even mildly hinting that sexual favors may be in the offing if she just keeps your place in line.
Otherwise, your little slip will be tossed to the side, resulting in hundreds of people arriving after you but going through the sacred inner-chamber door before you, forcing you to watch three successive hours of “Hee Haw” reruns on a crappy TV while unsupervised children scream and throw things.
3. Do not speak to anyone else in the waiting room.
No one. You never know which one of those people might be the whack-job who, when given the tiniest possibility that you might actually care about what they have to say, will immediately launch into a complete inventory about anything medical that has happened to them in their entire lives. Life’s too short for this. You are allowed one brief nod as greeting, no actual vocalization, and then never look at any of them again, instead staring at a blank spot on the wall or pretending to organize messages on your phone.
4. When they call your name, run like the wind.
Do NOT piddle around. Get your butt through the door as fast as possible. The staff is sick and tired of dealing with people who are sick and tired, and they just want to get things done, not stand around while you gather up your things and say goodbye to your new best friends in the waiting room. You don’t want to make the staff mad, or they will shunt you off to an exam room that the doctor doesn’t even remember he has, where you can rot while pondering your sins.
5. Do not be offended by what the scale says about your weight.
You might as well accept, beforehand, that the number on the scale is going to be higher than you want it to be. Those things lie. They are purposely made to add at least 10 pounds, and will never come close to matching the more pleasing number you just saw on your own scale at home. This is some international protocol, that doctor scales must be rude and overbearing. Just ignore the number. Unless it went down from the last time, in which case the scale is surely the most accurate scale the world has ever known..
6. Don’t be greedy with that lone, out-dated magazine someone left in the exam room.
Pace yourself. You may be sitting in here for a very long time, and you don’t want to use up your entertainment options with careless haste. Even if it’s a magazine that you would never consider reading in the real world, it may be your only friend for hours. Read each and every article, including the recipes for Mongolian goulash and tips on making your own facial scrub out of apricot jam and drywall spackle.
7. You may have to create your own amusements.
Of course, if no one has bothered to provide you with dry but time-killing literature, you can always make stick people out of the tongue depressors, with cotton-ball hair, and have them perform show-stoppers from Broadway productions. Naturally, to save yourself from perplexed questions and possible accusations of vandalism, you will have to quickly toss your little people behind a cabinet should you hear the door opening before the final curtain.
8. Embrace the fact that you must sit on top of paper that crackles constantly.
You have to do this, so you might as well accept it with some degree of dignity instead of making a big fuss about it. Yes, it can get very annoying, especially when you or the doctor has to repeat things because the damn paper is sending out Morse Code from betwixt your legs. (And really, what’s the true point of the paper? If something nasty or lethal actually gets spilled on it, are we seriously to believe some really wide but cheap toilet paper is going to save the day? Thinking not.)
9. Don’t let the doctor turn the examination into anything about him.
This is your party. You didn’t spend three days in the waiting room just so he could tell you about his own gall-bladder issue back in the day, or how he doesn’t really care for Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits. Keep all the focus on you, and be sure to fully detail every physical concern you have that might require further study or at least the prescribing of happy pills with an envy-worthy number of allowable refills. Some doctors instinctively understand the proper priority. Others do not, and you must train them. Be strong.
10. Lie when necessary.
Always give the impression that things are happening to you out of sheer fate and circumstance, and not because of you neglecting things like exercise, a healthy diet, and moderate use of alcohol. This is critical. You want important people like insurance claims approvers to feel sorry for you, not hate you because you’ve become a burden on society with your slacker ways and disinterest in following rules. After all, if the insurance money dries up, it may be a long time until you can afford to sit on crackly paper again and make musical stick-dolls. And that would just be sad.
Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 08/24/11 and “Bonnywood Manor” on 02/21/14.
Story behind the photo: The interior of an abandoned military bunker that I stumbled into on top of the Rock of Gibraltar. (After a while, you get a little tired of the monkeys scampering everywhere and you need a break.) I thought it accurately represented some of the D-list examination rooms I’ve been shunted to after misbehaving at the doctor’s office. That relic in the right corner used to be my dignity. The empty space in the left corner is the doctor still not showing up after The Tongue Depressor Chorus Line has done three separate encores.
Categories: 10 Reasons Why