The Waiting Room
I want to share with you all my experience of this morning and how I dealt with it, compared with how I treated the same situation a couple of years ago.
Apologies it’s a bit lengthy, with more practice I’ll keep future ones much shorter, but you should get through it in 5 minutes maximum.
I'm sure many of you can relate to this.
I'm after spending two hours in a consultant waiting room this morning having arrived in good time for my appointment.
The way it works, you arrive, check in and join the queue, no matter what time you have booked. It's important to know that in order to stay sane!
So this morning I arrived to a full waiting room and knew I was in for a longish wait. Probably an hour but I had plenty of time before picking my son up from school.
One or two of the other patients were getting a bit impatient, looking at watches, tutting and even going in to see the receptionist. She had explained several times so far that an earlier patient had taken much longer than expected and that was why everything was well behind schedule.
But this post is not about how other people are behaving, no-one can know what’s going on with them and it’s not my place to judge them.
The point of it is that I chose to make a positive experience of this ‘dead’ time that I had.
Here’s what I achieved, in no particular order:
- exchanged smiles with several fellow patients (most of whom were elderly, I think I have an old person’s condition!!)
- *read the newspaper (the Irish Times, BTW); so found out about the latest political skullduggery, financial incompetencies, savage murders of the day…the world still needs fixing, it seems
- *read the TV guide and found a new drama that looks worth watching, set my Sky + to record the series right from my smartphone (I remember the days of rushing home from the office in time to set off the VCR to record Star Trek Next Generation because I’d forgotten to set the timer :-/)
- caught up on a couple of emails
- did some research on some of the best content on the web (I’ll share it with you over the coming months)
- completed a level of Candy Crush (guilty pleasure)
One hour turned to two, and finally my name was called to see the doctor.
She profusely apologised for the delay, to which I replied that I understood she was having a busy day and that I’d used the time well and there was no problem. I had my check up and was on my way fifteen minutes later. And back in Swords in time to collect my son at school with a couple of minutes to spare.
So what’s the lesson here? Well I don’t think it’s rocket science to use the time to the best of your ability, and with technology now you can do just about anything that you could do at home or in the office.
The main thing I took was my frame of mind, which made the experience a pleasant one rather than a bad one. In times gone by I’d have been steaming inside about the time wasting, the frustration at being stuck there, my internal dialogue telling me how useless the systems and processes are and that next time I’m just going to walk out (one patient actually did this earlier, but he’ll have to come back next week and likely face a similar wait). As i mentioned, I’ve had this before, in that same waiting room, and although I've never walked out, I’ve been annoyed and frustrated.
But this time I chose to make the best of it, and truly believed it. So none of those negative thoughts occurred to me at the time; in fact only just now that I’m reflecting on it. And as well as my own good experience, I think that my doctor appreciated my frame of mind as well. I suspect that maybe/possibly/probably she’d had a series of grumpy/irritated/annoyed patients both before and after my visit, but at least I had not given her a hard time and hopefully made her day that bit more bearable. I don’t know that for sure, but I can certainly sit here now and believe it. Why not?
LIfe’s full of tough situations, it always will be. We can’t control that. But we can control whether we turn it into a good experience for ourselves and those around us.