The Waiting Game
My hospital has a wicked sense of humour. The MS clinic (Suite 16, honestly) is in the second furthest away room at the end of a very long corridor of clinics. I used to fume about this as I schlepped my way past 15 other clinics, muttering under my breath, ‘you wouldn’t want to have any mobility problems, eh?’
Back then, I was a terrible patient. Terribly impatient. Confusion, fear and apprehension combined to make me inwardly rant and rave as I had to wait yet again, in yet another cheerless waiting room where the most interesting thing I could do was see if the dog-eared posters had been changed since last time. Even getting a diagnosis is an extraordinary feat of waiting – lumbar puncture, wait, MRI, wait, neurology appointment, wait, and so on.
Nowadays, I am positively Zen-like. If there’s one thing MS teaches you, it’s patience. I have my waiting room routine down to a tee. Preparation is vital. I always get to the hospital early so I can have a look round the shops in the concourse, therefore feeling that I’ve actually done something with my day. Quick scoot (stumble) round Boots; little look in the over-priced gift shop, as you never know when you might need a wooden sign with ‘Live! Laugh! Love!’ etched on it; a wander round the aisles in WHSmith to buy a bag of Jelly Babies... I mean, healthy nuts, and a trashy magazine.
On the way to the waiting room, I think of my appointment time and add an hour on to it. That way, I won’t be disappointed and could even be pleasantly surprised if I’m seen earlier.
Finally, I now know exactly which seats are the comfiest, so I hand over my appointment letter, settle myself down and prepare to wait, nodding pleasantly at the other people who look as if they’re inwardly fuming. They’ll learn.
From my bag of supplies, I pull out my chewing gum, trashy magazine, bottle of water, phone, my shopping list, a book, the kitchen sink, arranging them on the empty seat next to me. All sorted. I am an expert patient now, although it’s taken me a couple of years to get there. I know I’ll be seen eventually, no point getting stressed about it. Waiting and MS just go hand in hand.
In fact, I’m that au fait with the whole thing now that if I’m sent for a blood test, I start rolling up my sleeve even before I get to the phlebotomist, aware that as I take my ticket (number 113 and the machine has just clicked round to 78) I’ll have to wait. Sad, or just being prepared?
I have my waiting room routine down to a tee. Preparation is vital.