The Double Meaning of Patient This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Tick,tick, tick. The sound of time slipping away echoes in my ears. If I have to waitone more second, I swear ...

"Emily, uh ... ?" the nurse attempts my last name.

Well, it's close enough. I follow the nurse into the back of the doctor'soffice where she takes my vitals to make sure I am indeed still alive and havenot become a waiting-room zombie. She inquires about my ailment (what was itagain?) and pretends to care that I have contracted waiting-room influenza. Shethen makes that innocent little comment, "The doctor will be right withyou." Yeah, right, she will ...

I glance at my watch and have aglimmer of hope that I just may make it home to finish my enormous pile ofhomework. Maybe, just maybe. I glance around and notice the informational postersabout ear infections. I tire of these and feel that I could recite them in mysleep. In an attempt to soothe my itchy throat, I take a plastic cup, fill itwith water, and sip it while waiting for the inevitable knock on the door. Alas,it does not come.

Out of sheer boredom I open the drawers one by one tolook for something to play with. I test my reflexes and heartbeat, and am aboutto perform a throat culture when a staff member barges in, sees me playing withthe doctor's toys, and stammers, "Whoops! Wrong room!" After recoveringfrom my heart attack, which no one would be able to help me through because thedoctor is nowhere to be found, I once again look for some source ofamusement.

The doctor's stool is in the middle of the room. It is sotempting to sit on and roll across the floor ... I'm not gonna do it, I'm notgonna do it, I think. Oh, who am I kidding? I take it and race across the floor,adding another ailment: a broken arm from crashing into the wall.

Afterall this excitement, I suddenly realize I have to go to the bathroom. I do notreally want to leave just in case, heaven forbid, the doctor actually comes. Butthe bladder wins and I leave the room "Mission Impossible" style.

While washing my hands, the water comes on too fast and splashes thefront of my pants. I sneak back to my room and, as soon as I close the door, loand behold, my old buddy, the nurse, comes back. She promises that the doctor ison her way and asks about any unmentioned problems while eyeing the water spot onmy pants and cradled arm. I blush and claim that everything is under control.

I lie down on the examination table to wait ... and wait. I look atmy watch again, though time does not seem to exist in this place. I think aboutthe books I never got around to reading, like Moby D and all 26 volumes ofEncyclopedia Britannica, and make a mental note to ask whoever is in charge toplace these works in each examination room.

I begin to sing to occupymyself, softly, then louder and louder. I am in the middle of an exciting chorusof Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World," complete with dance moves,when the doctor comes back from Starbucks, or wherever she was. She asks what myproblem is, and I rack my brain trying to remember, as I hold my hurt arm and tryto conceal the water spot that just will not go away. I finally remember.

During the evaluation, she casually asks about any instances of memoryloss, which I immediately refute. She nails the problem and leaves "just fora minute" to write a prescription. She was probably with me a total of fiveminutes.

Through the closed door, I can hear the eye chart being read,which I have already memorized, by the way. I want to stick my head out the doorand yell, "No, you stupid kid, it's 1XRSQ1 not KFBO!" It also soundslike small babies are being sacrificed. My heart stops each time I hear the clickof heels on the tile floor, giving me false hope that it will be my doctor.

She finally returns along with the prescription to solve all my problems,whatever they are. Even if it does not work, there is no way I will return to geta different one because I have learned the hard way the double meaning of"patient."

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Bethani said...
May 13, 2010 at 8:02 pm
I completely agree! My doctor's office is terrible. 
 
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