Thursday, November 17, 2005

Waiting Room Tidbits

Since David has radiation on a daily basis, the waiting room is part of my routine. Sometimes I read, sometimes I watch the "news" (I use that term loosely), sometimes I people-watch out of the corner of my eye.

I've started to rank the various facility waiting rooms by three criteria:
  1. magazine selection
  2. television programs
  3. refreshments
It wouldn't really be fair to include people, would it?

Mercy Hospital is a sad state of affairs on all counts. Every day it's soap operas, the mags all get nicked (leaving real estate listings, ugh), and the vending machine selection is awful -- or broken. Mind you, that's the ER waiting room, the MRI waiting room has more magazines but not much of interest. I would sooner read laundry care labels than flip through Field & Stream again. When David and I perused an issue at the immigration doctor's office in Tannersville, there was an ad for how to build a doghouse out of an oil drum. Am I missing something? Does America have an oil drum oversupply? Our city lacks recycling facilities, but oh wait -- the family dog could use a petroleum-based shelter!

CMC's ER waiting room is pretty standard as ER waiting rooms go -- nerve-wrackingly empty, devoid of anything distracting. The surgery waiting rooms at least have televisions, but there's an annoying central phone that rings endlessly. Everyone looks at each other, but no-one wants to answer it because then everyone stares expectantly at you while you shout out the name of whoever it's for (because it's never for you). It's like a hospital mind game: take a room full of anxious people and put a telephone in the middle. It's 2005 but the phone is a $5 Wal-Mart rotary-dial special -- Bat Phone Red, of course -- with a ring so demanding it jingles the handset. No volume control. Fun for the whole family! (Sometimes kids answer.)

The Hematology and Oncology Clinic, which is housed in the same building as the Radiation Clinic, has a similar waiting room but to a larger scale. Eerily, I have only ever seen "Oprah" and "Ellen" on their screens. We go there all different times of the day, too. How does this happen??? Oprah Winfrey and Ellen Degeneres -- all day, all the time. Bizarre.

The clinic staff reserve nearly all the magazines for the chemotherapy patients who have to sit for hours as the drugs drip into their veins, so I don't complain about the lack of reading material. Not at all. But I still went home the other day to fetch David's book that he left on the counter because One Cannot Live By Magazine Alone.

Each of the chemotherapy stations has its own TV, but the average drug takes 45 minutes to enter the body, after half an hour of anti-nausea drug followed by a half-hour of saline. Nothing on television is that engaging. Before, when David was on combination chemotherapy, he'd fall asleep on the first bag and they'd wake him up hanging the second one. I didn't hang around the waiting room those days, I'd just go home and wait for the call when the final bag was started. I don't have enough patience for Oprah or Ellen.

The number one reason why I like the radiation clinic waiting room is because they have an espresso machine, conveniently located at the front entrance. I walk in, push three buttons, and voila! This was especially handy when radiation appointments were at the ghastly hour of 07:30. The magazines are rotated between the main reception area and the patients' waiting area, so the selection varies wildly. I end up ferrying myself between the two places, depending on:
  • how chatty the reception ladies are ("HEL-L-L-OOOO MISSUS FIELDING!!!")
  • what's on TV (Oh please no! Not 'The View'! *sob*)
  • if I'm in the mood for trashy tabloid (the section "They're Just Like Us!" in People magazine showing celebrities feeding parking meters or pushing a grocery cart is absurdly comical), or
  • pseudo-journalism (CNN or Fox News).
Thankfully, David's radiation treatments are very short, so no matter how trashy or trivial the entertainment, I'm never subjected to it for long. And I always have my compensatory hot drink. That bought my vote.

Today, though, I flipped through a Time magazine and found this week's cartoons pretty funny. I tried looking for them online, but the online cartoons must be a different set from the published ones. Anyhow, Time's online cartoons can be found here. This week's can be accessed by clicking on the cartoon below.


Oh, one other thing I saw today. I couldn't help but notice this older fellow in the patients' waiting area, wearing a baseball cap that proclaimed loudly "Bass Pro Shop". But the real neon light was his belt, partially obscured by a fold in his protruding belly. The top part said JESUS in big, bold letters. I kid you not. The rest of it... well, I didn't want to go there, you know?

ADDITION: an ulterior motive for me to write is to prompt David to write, and write he did --

Dave's Logbook: The Waiting Game