So, after having just dropped my Mother-in-Law off – she’s 80 by the way – at the entrance to the lobby of the Arthritis & Osteoporosis Consultants of the Carolinas (OACC). I just joined her here in the 6th Floor waiting room.
Now understand something, I am keenly aware that in this day and time, one does not need to be elderly to have arthritic or any other medical issues, but let’s face it, when you visit most waiting rooms, especially those of a specialist, it’s mainly older people occupying the seats.
The point of this blog, and hopefully with some levity, is the unusualness and sometimes humor in how elderly people seem to approach doctor’s visits.
They take them very seriously, even to the point of (seemingly) considering a visit to the doctor an honor and a privilege, a badge of honor, or maybe (to them a trip out of the house). Like some seniors, my Mother-in-Law doesn’t drive; therefore, she’s dependent on me or my wife for the curb service from home to the doctor and back again.
Believe it or not, I care about my health and I make all of my scheduled visits 95% of the time, and on the first scheduled date. Then there is the hurry up and wait that just beguiles me and annoys me so much. I wouldn’t have a problem with the demands placed on me by the doctor’s office, if they wouldn’t demand we be on time and not a minute late, and by the way, be there at least 15 minutes prior to your appoint time. Partly because a one hour doctors visit actually costs you a half day of real-time in your schedule. When you consider the two-hour prep and driving time on the front end, the five minutes the doctor spends with you – lab work not included in this analysis – and the seemingly hour or so wait time on the back-end for feedback from the doctors (assistant), and the drive back home.
As for me, I hate Doctor’s visits, especially those that require fasting. My anxiety begins to start about a week before the visit date and it grows exponentially until the day of the visit, sometimes to the point where I just end up canceling and/or rescheduling the visit altogether at the last-minute. This creates additional anxiety, because by doing so, I am now left with this immense weight on my shoulder as though I am short-changing my well-being, while also knowing canceling or postponing the visit will only create the same delayed anxiety of having to go through this all over again.
Back to the seniors I have had the experience of dealing with. Most of them seem to have quite the opposite disposition regarding doctor’s visits.
First off, they look forward to them. They mark their calendars and happily await that date. They’ll remind you of it often enough that it becomes embedded in your mental processor. It’s always that last reminder the night before, as if you could have possibly forgotten the multitude of reminders you got during the day. Again, this rings true with my Mother-in-Law, given the fact she doesn’t drive. Why she doesn’t drive is another story, one to be told in a later offering of thoughtful insights into dealing with the elderly.
Secondly, they get up really early and get dressed. Now, there is nothing wrong with waking and getting dressed early for any appointment; except when the appointment is at 10:00 am and you’re up at 5:30, dressed, sitting in your favorite chair, reading the local newspaper and watching your every move to be sure you’re up, dressed and ready to roll; as if, to make sure you’re taking this trip as serious as they are. This is because they consider late – or just on the edge of being late – a total failure. Not in their lives, but in yours for not getting them there on time. It was as if, if they’re on time, they have done a great service to humanity.
Me, well, I believe in being on time, because after all, I am wanting to get this experience over and done with as soon as possible.
Now being late, or shall I say getting them there late, is the last thing you want to do. I had that happen to me on one of my trips taking my Mother-in-Law to one of her appointments. Mind you, we were within the (general) 15-minute window of the appointment time and the infamous “must arrive at least 15 minutes early” law. She was so nervous, she practically bolted out of the car when I pulled up to the drop-off area. I could tell she wasn’t a happy camper.
Seniors don’t mind being early. As a matter of fact, they prefer it, they relish it, their whole upfront routine I mentioned earlier is all part of the doctor visit ritual, the doctor’s visit experience to them. If you observe them arriving in the waiting room to check-in, they’re spirited, smiling, talking and ready (Medicare and Medicaid cards in hand) to be processed into doctor camp.
Then, there is the ultimate truth validation to what I have been saying when you encounter the guy in the waiting room, and I did encounter such a guy, who seemingly had been there – in the waiting room – all day, and who exemplifies the a true doctor visitor patriot. He was there when I arrived and was there when I left. All the while, he was striking up conversations with anyone who would care to allow him to engage them. He talked affectionately about his doctors, the number of times he had changed doctors, his medications, the dosage he was taking and he knew to the day and minute of his next appointment.
This is the guy, or lady, who hangs around the doctor’s office and spends his time conversing with other patients on things like, his new doctor’s name, how long he’s been seeing him, the new medications he has been prescribed and the joyful exhilaration of looking forward to his next appointment(s). It’s as though he is willing to wait right there in the waiting room for the next six months until his next appointment. WTF!
Finally, the visit is done and there is the issue of picking up the prescriptions – another topic for another time. When you visit the pharmacy, or any pharmacy for that matter, especially the one in the same building where the medical practitioner is, it’s really humbling to know that that you don’t have as many medical issues as a lot of people do. I say this because as you watch people standing in line and picking up their orders, in bags. People are picking up bags, I mean bags of prescription drugs.
Mind you, I am not making light of people who need necessary medications for their chronic ailments. Short term pain relief is one of those exceptions I am referring too. Disagree with me if you may, that’s your call; however, I am convinced through my own experiences, and the research I have done, that too many of us are being drugged to death.
Finally, if you’re taking care of an elderly parent or grandparent, be prepared for the ride of your life – to the doctor’s office.