Friday, February 17, 2012
The Waiting Room
Yesterday I went to the walk-in clinic with my 13 year old son. He'd hurt his finger playing soccer the day before and it was now very swollen.
Earlier, both children had been at a dentist appointment. I didn't want to take both of them to the clinic, so I stopped at home to drop off my other son.
While we were there, I told my 13 year old to get his iPod or a book, so that he'd have something to do in the waiting room. He refused to get out of the car. I told him that there was no way I could predict the length of time it would take to see the doctor. Still he refused. I could've got the book for him, but I want him to learn to take some responsibility for his actions. I asked him one more time. He said no so I took him to the clinic sans entertainment.
I asked the receptionist how long she thought we would have to wait. She estimated 20 minutes. No worries.
I pulled out my book (which I had in my bag for their dentist appointment) and started to read. My son however, became bored after about 5 minutes. Having Aspergers Syndrome, anxiety and a sore finger made it very difficult for him to relax. "When are we going to see the doctor?" he asked me. "I don't know" I said. He then proceeded to ask me this question over and over at two minutes intervals.
An hour later, we were still waiting. My son was ready to have a meltdown. So was I.
Then they called his name. But called 5 other names before his. We were told to go to "Booth F"
and I knew they would be seeing the people in " Booths A-E" before we would be seen. Great.
"Why is the doctor not coming yet?" or "Why is she wasting the doctors time when all she has is a cough?" then "Doesn't the doctor know how to tell time? And I couldn't give him an answer.
People with Aspergers need absolutes not ambiguity and uncertainty. They don't like when routines are switched or changed. They like things to be predictable and orderly. His plans for how he was going to spend his Thursday evening had suddenly and dramatically changed. He was freaking out.
Then came the nurse who asked questions, took notes and told us that the doctor would be along shortly.
Still more waiting.
Finally, 1 hour and 47 minutes later, we saw the doctor. He like me, suspected a broken finger. So he sent us upstairs to have an x-ray. But first we'd have to sit in another waiting room.
Half an hour later we came back downstairs. The doctor confirmed the fracture and we went to the treatment room to have his finger isolated and placed in a splint.
It's hard to wait and my son proved to be a very impatient patient. I think the waiting room experience was more painful for him and perhaps worse than any pain he felt in his finger. Life threw him a curveball. He wasn't prepared. But I should've known better. I should've just gotten the iPod for him myself. This was not the time to teach my son a lesson. It was time to be supportive to him. He has Autism.
But I can relate.
It's been a tough week for me. I too have been in a few waiting rooms myself. I've had some "abnormal" test results. Further testing has proved "inconclusive". I've been here before. Some of you know my history. Here we go again.
I guess what this means is, I'm going to have to ride the roller-coaster again while strapped in the waiting room chair. It's a white knuckle ride with no screaming allowed. There will be "I don't know's, maybe's and uncertainties." My short term plans and goals may have to change or be placed on hold.
And I'll have to wait.
I just ask you to be patient with me.