Watching and Waiting

I’m sitting in a waiting room, waiting.

Across the room, also waiting, is a woman who it utterly fabulous. Her hair, clearly grey as a base colour, is artfully highlighted just enough to glow. If it wasn’t hair, I’d swear it was 14K white gold. It stands up in a 3 inch, 3 dimensional halo. She is confident, playful, serious and curious – all at once. She screams competence.
She is here with an older, smaller, paler, more timid version of her who looks decidedly nervous.

Beside me is a tall, cool, bright-eyed woman, quietly leafing through her Daytimer, writing herself reminders on a pad of sticky notes. She’s wearing tailored slacks, a chunky silver bracelet, a many-pocketed leather purse, and the same blue plastic booties as the rest of us.
She’s here with her husband, who has disappeared into the examination maze. She whispered to him, as he got up to follow the beckoning nurse, that their next appointment was in an hour. She’s got it all together – he doesn’t.

The room is a potent mixture of anxiety and boredom. Everyone arrives tense, intense. In a rush. After the initial flurry of filling out forms, digging for health cards and turning off cell phones, they just sit. Studiously avoiding staring. And they stew, impatiently transforming into patients.

When my name is called, I stash my illicit coffee away. I pass a sign marked “Nuclear Medicine Patients”. I’m just here for an X-ray, but still, can’t quite suppress a shiver.
The nurse called two of us at once, and asks the other patient to wait, while she instructs me how to don the paper gown and plastic-garbage-bag belt. I’m given the luxury of a private closet to change, but I’ll have to pass the other patient on my way, sporting my medical haute couture. I feel badly for hoping he’ll be too preoccupied to notice.
After being prodded into various positions, holding my breath, holding still, and prodded again, I’m told that we’re all done, and asked could I wait just a minute while my X-rays are looked over? I deconstruct the motivational poster, while waiting for the nurse to decide whether she needs to call a doctor.
I’m led back to the change closet, deemed not to be of any immediate concern. I take the time to pick apart the knot I made in my single-use garbage-bag belt.

On my way back to the waiting room and blue-bootie freedom, I see a computer screen blinking “In / Out / Transfer”.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I passed.

As I upgrade my feet from bootied to booted, I see the waiting room differently. It isn’t categorized into patients and supporting family members. It’s divided by those that are comfortable with the concept of their bodies falling apart on them, and those that aren’t.
The clock ticks for all of us. The idea isn’t to keep track of time, but rather, to sway to the beat.

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1 comment so far

  1. moosilaneous on

    Fabulous word painting.


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