In the waiting room

Published 8:32 am Thursday, March 15, 2018

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to be sitting in a hospital waiting room as a member of my family had a procedure.

I have thought several times over the past few years about writing about this experience.

Tthe waiting rooms have sure changed through the years and the people also.

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The people I am sitting with are younger for the most part and the patients, too, are younger. I have become the old woman in the room lately.

One good thing is you do not have to sit in a hospital waiting room inhaling cigarette smoke from nearly everyone else around you smoking cigarettes. It seems almost unbelievable now to me how it was not found unhealthy way back when.

I have noticed there is very little conversation as it used to be in the waiting rooms. People used to learn all about one another and often even become lifelong friends with someone they met in the waiting room of the hospital.

It used to be people would ask such things as, “Where are you from?” Then questions as mundane as the weather of the day would be mentioned. I even remember people bringing food and passing it around for the other people in the room.

I thought back to my Aunt Bea teaching a group of ladies how to crochet in a waiting room when she was going to see her sister who had a stroke and was in the hospital for quite awhile. Someone mentioned to her they would like to learn how to crochet and they too were going to the hospital daily. The next day, Aunt Bea brought an extra crochet hook and yarn and taught them how to crochet. That is rare in waiting rooms today.

I have often thought in the past few years how uncommunicative our society has become. Are people more selfish of themselves and their time today? Do they not have time to be friendly anymore?

Every person in the room had a cell phone except one elderly man who I thought to myself had probably never held a cell phone in his life.

The TV was tuned to the “Today” show and only one comment was made from room full of people. It was about how old Hoda Kotbe was when she became a mother and her love for her new baby.

It seemed as quickly as the conversation came up the room once again returned to silence. Once more the people in the room reverted back to looking at their cell phones or very little small talk with the person next to them.

There was only two other people in the room who looked anywhere around my age and one was the older looking man.

One lady had her daughter filling out all her papers as she answered questions. Her daughter had to prod her with the answers. Once that was done, they settled in to watching TV. The older lady thinking she was whispering only for her daughter’s ears but loud enough for all to hear said, “I can’t see the picture even with my glasses on.” I had to smile while listening to their conversations.

You could tell there was love between the mother and who I assumed was her daughter. Sometimes it is not always that way. I have observed as some children seem aggravated with their older parent.

Something else I have observed is how many people had procedures based on this one room alone. It almost seems patients are herded in and out like cattle any more.

When I was a child it seemed procedures took longer and there were never this many people having the same thing done in one day’s time.

It seemed the door to the room only stayed closed for a short period of time before a new patient entered and one who was waiting was taken out as a nurse called another name.

Just as everyone was settled in again after the last nurse came to get another patient and the room became quiet with each one to their own thoughts, suddenly something happened.

A very loud, blood curdling scream that sounded like it came from a woman penetrated the silence of the room. Needless to say, it got the attention of everyone there and heads jerked up to see if we could figure where the sound had come from.

Thinking we were hearing a scream from someone in surgery who had not been given the anesthesia correctlly, we all had a big laugh as we discovered it came from a woman’s iPad. She explained to us all it was a woman who had just found out she was pregnant. That laughter in the room and the little conversations that followed made me realize people are still the same but times are just different.

By the way, I learned that between 40 and 50 procedures are done on a regular day in that department of the hospital alone. Wow, how times have changed our lives!

Sue Staton is a Clark County native who grew up in the Kiddville area. She is a wife, mother and grandmother who is active in her church, First United Methodist Church, and her homemakers group, Towne and Country Homemakers.