Yesterday at the doctor’s office, in the middle of listening to one of the reception nurses talking to me about her daughter’s Freshman year audition for No No Nannette while she filled out my paper work for some blood tests, I started weeping.
Not that like, oh, I’m getting a little teary or the solemn “single tear rolling down my cheek artistically”, I’m talking about that disgusting, snot-dripping-down-your-face, gasping for breath weeping.
The kind (and very, very confused) receptionist passed me a tissue and seemed very concerned. Well,I would be too, if a blue-haired weirdo was sobbing all over my counter while I was on hold with MetroLab.
What I wanted to do is make an impassioned speech about how impressed I was with their commitment to patient care, how I had been inspired by the doctor I saw, how I enjoyed being treated like someone with a problem, not a criminal, but the best I could manage in that moment was a very honest “It’s just…just that everyone has been SO NICE TO ME”.
There were three nurses on duty at the time and all three of them exchanged looks like “oh boy, we got another crazy”, but between sobs I managed to choke out something along the lines of “this is the first time anyone’s listened to me in two years and now you want to know about my theatre company? I just— thank you. Thank you so much”.
(And, admittedly, pretty funny).
The specific details of my appointment don’t necessarily matter, but what I felt the need to write about today is about how easy it is to make someone feel good. Or, I suppose, conversely, how easy it is to make them feel like an asshole.
I’m used to the latter.
I think by this point we’ve established how annoying this whole process has been, but today, for, honestly, the first time EVER, I sat down with someone who took the time to listen, who asked questions, who listened to my answers and made jokes and swore a couple of times and high-fived me at the end of the appointment.
I realize it’s kind of ridiculous. “Someone did their job! Extraordinary! My life is changed!”
But it was more than that. It was her attitude. It was her compassion. It was the way she recognized my frustration and my desperation and said, “you know what? It isn’t okay that you feel like that”. It was the way she took the time to explain things, to recommend things, to make me genuinely believe that maybe at the end of all of this, I might start feeling okay.
Oh, and it also turns out that she’s a huge theatre fan, so in between questions about chest pain and headaches, we discussed Oedipus, Titus Andronicus and Antigone.
Not bad, eh?
What I realized is that I’m used to being the strong one. I’m used to seeing doctors where I have to prove how crappy I feel, prove that I’m not some crazy person, prove that I’m normal and not a drug addict and on and on– and this time, for the first time, my doctor was the one who stepped up her game and.
That….well, that was refreshing.
And about the diagnoses– well, there isn’t one. Not yet.
But you know what? That’s okay. Because this time, I have a doctor who is taking the time to make sure she covers all of her bases. I don’t have to beg for a blood test, she ordered 7. When I said that it’s hard for me to sleep, she stopped what we had been talking about and questioned me about that for 15 minutes.
In writing this, it’s difficult for me to accurately get my feelings across. I’m excited. I’m relieved. I’m happy. I’m assured.
I just feel…listened to. I think that’s the biggest thing. My strange and ridiculous list of symptoms wasn’t dismissed, my explanations weren’t ignored and I felt welcome.
I have to go back. Probably a couple of times, but I’m excited to go. I’m not dreading the appointment like I usually do, in fact, I’m looking forward to it.
It’s a nice change.