I’ve often quipped that my Native American name is “Running Late.” I recently lived up to this moniker once again. I herded the man and boy to their respective places of business, stopping to get Keith’s fifth tardy slip in the office. Rushing across town to the first of many medical appointments that day, I was ten minutes behind. I got in line behind two other patients, both of whom were told they were in the wrong place. Oh, the receptionist will be glad to see me, I thought.
“Your appointment is not until next week.”
Surely, she is mistaken since I just made the appointment yesterday. Maybe she’s thinking of another appointment I have next week. The receptionist is not mistaken. I am a week early. Great. I schlep downstairs to the white courtesy phone to make another appointment. OK, I can move my lunch plans to get in to see the doc.
I leave the building, wondering what I should do next. I have 45 minutes until my next appointment down the street. I guess I’ll go get gas since I’m on fumes. Following the prompts of the gas pump, I use my ATM card to pay and begin to pump. Nothing. I walk over to the kiosk to ask for help. The young man calls me, “ma’am” and informs me that the pump is persnickety. My word, not his. After a couple of attempts, the gas finally begins pumping. We have a good laugh and I thank him. He again calls me, “ma’am” and thanks me for getting him out of the boring kiosk.
The car is pretty dirty and I’m right next to the car wash. Upon entering the drive through, there is a garbage can right outside my driver side window for my convenience. I try to toss a couple of Kleenexes. The guy tells me to pull forward. The tissues don’t have enough weight to get them from my overhanded throw into the can. I tell the guy to hold on while I open my door to pick up the tissues.
After washing and vacuuming my car, I head over to the hospital for my next appointment. Or should I say my first appointment. While I wait I look at the information about this doctor who looks like he’s just gotten his driver’s permit. This person is supposed to evaluate me for surgery? Well, the card does say he did earn his M.D., so I attempt to overlook his Doogie-ness.
The assistant takes me back and tries the whole blood pressure thing. Twice. My arm is now Elmo red. I refrain from screaming. She asks if she can try again. No. I figure I have to go to another appointment and they can cut off my circulation there.
Doogie shows up. OK, he looks a little older in person. I show him my wrist cyst. He tells me that it is a common ganglion cyst. Doogie says they used to be called Bible bumps as beating the cyst with a big Bible was the preferred method of treatment. My mom had told me they used Webster’s Dictionary. Heathens.
We go over my options, which thankfully, don’t include tome treatment. He says I have to have an X-ray and come back right after to discuss further. Great. I’m Running Late. I tell him I have an 11:10 down the street. Not to worry. His receptionist can tell them I’m on my way.
Radiology is just a hop, skip, and a jump down the hall. The receptionist is giving out carnations for customer appreciation week. I wonder what color I’ll get. She hands me a red carnation and a signed thank you card. I’m Running Late. No worries, she says. I’m next in line.
How exciting. I am next. The x-rays are quick and painless. But I’m still Running Late.
I head back over to Orthopedics. Wow, the line is long. The receptionist asks several elderly patients if they are registered on the Kaiser website. Each gruffly tells her they don’t use a computer. I hope it’s my turn soon since it’s time for me to be at my next appointment and the receptionist probably doesn’t know I need her to call. They’re giving out carnations, too. Some lady in the waiting room wants to compare carnation smells. An elderly man thinks she’s trying to take it from her. The receptionist gives a flower to a teenager; he seems embarrassed. I tell him it makes him look tough. He probably wishes I wouldn’t talk to him.
Finally, it is my turn. The receptionist tells me that the nurse will have to call to alert the other office I’m Running Late. I sit down not really caring who calls just call already. I overhear her call the nurse, who is no longer on the premises. I can tell she’s wondering what to do next. After talking to the nurse who took over, the receptionist herself makes the call, which I overhear. It’s still weird when people refer to me as Mrs. Tinney.
Doogie and I meet again. We go over a few of the points of the surgery including the risks of anesthesia (read: death). I’ve already decided not to go completely under since it’s only my wrist. I’m fitted for a splint, which makes the pain worse but looks so stylish.
I head back down the street. By now I’m more than a half hour late for this appointment and will certainly not meet my lunch date at the newly scheduled time.
This nurse actually gets a reading on my blood pressure and it’s not good. I guess that extra pill they prescribed isn’t working. I see the doc and we make a plan for this possible asthma thing I have. Oh, good. Maybe I won’t be too late for my lunch after all.
“You’re due for your tetanus shot.” Really? No wonder people avoid going to the doctor; there’s a good chance you’ll never get out. I’m now escorted to a holding room with beds and curtains and hacking patients. I wonder what new and exciting germs are floating in the air. My lunch date calls. Yes, I’m Running Late. I hope to be there within the half hour. I’m afraid to give any sort of ETA. I’m finally given the shot and rush out to the car. I’m FREE!!! At least until the afternoon when I have to go to the pharmacy and then take my son to his doctor’s appointment. I make it to my lunch date where for a time I am Wolfing it Down instead of Running Late.