I was awoken early yesterday morning by the awful sound of my neighbor's dog choking up a bone. It was a deep, throaty hack that made me want to put the poor thing out of its misery. Then, as my level of consciousness improved, I realized that was not a neighbor's beloved pet, but rather my 5 year old overcome by whatever virus invaded her little body overnight. "Crap" I thought. Yes, I was obviously bummed that she was bordering on the edge of miserable, but even more cognizant of that fact that this means a visit to the doctor. I called right when the clinic opened to improve my chances of being seen as soon as possible that day. "Our earliest appointment is at 4pm. Would that work?" asked the receptionist. I wanted to reply, tongue in cheek "Do I have a choice? I would rather come in at 9am since I am out and about, my daughter is still in fairly decent spirits and the two boys don't have to be forced against their will to come with me. But yes, 4pm would work perfectly!" By the way, I called right at 7am.....and the earliest appointment that day was 4pm? Since she wasn't bleeding out of her eye sockets, I guess that put me on a different priority list that day. No biggie. She just sounds like a seal choking on three pounds of razor-sharp fish bones. No fever, but I am waiting for one of her lungs to show up on my lap at any moment. 4pm works fine. I did kindly ask to be put on a cancellation list.
So 4pm rolls around. I pick up two unsuspecting boys at school who are overcome with excitement that they didn't have to take the bus, and the unannounced arrival of mom at school obviously meant we were about to embark on a fun adventure. Their disappointment when told our real plans for the afternoon was palatable. I am pretty sure everyone in the tri-county area knew that my boys did not want to go to the doctor. That displeasure was echoed by the patient herself when she caught wind of her brothers' angst. Awesome. Three reluctant kids, at the end of a long day crammed into a doctor's office. Just awesome. When we checked in, they called our name right away. This was hopeful! Hope was dashed when the nurse lead us to the exam room and explained that the doctor was running a bit behind today. Nice. I kindly asked "What is a 'bit'?" She apologetically replied "Only about 20 minutes or so." to which my boys looked at her like she had a penis coming out of the middle of her forehead. I read the look. She must have sensed it as well. Anyone, with or without children, would have sensed it. She said "I will see what I can do." and quickly left the room before my kids could stage a bloody revolt on her. We didn't see her again for a good 15 minutes. I am not sure if the sounds reverberating from behind our closed door prompted her to come more quickly, or stay away longer, but she announced that we would be seen any minute now. In that time, I was wondering why, if they doctor was running behind schedule, would they choose to lock a mom and her three monkies on crack in a room that is no more than 32 square feet in size, with limited toys, limited books, no padded walls and no liquor. Let's face it. The toys are a breeding ground for germs. They just drum up more business for the clinic at a later date. So I pretty much ban those. The books are usually missing pages or ones that we have read the other 65 times we have been there. We had already blown through the snacks that I had brought...literally. It looked like my kids took their baggies of goldfish, smashed them into bits and sprinkled them on the floor. There was a fight over the ONE extra chair that was in there. They took turns spinning on the doctor stool...one of these spins resulted in the 7 year old being thrown off head first into the wall and careening onto the floor. My only thought was that if he needed medical attention, we were at least in the right spot. And maybe a bleeding or unconscious child might actually bring a doctor to our room. Imagine that. Then the exam gloves kept them busy for a few minutes. I didn't even stop them from blowing them up with air and putting them on their heads, rooster-style. Because by that time, it was entertaining for me too. "No, you cannot lay on the table. No, you cannot use the stethoscope...or the eye flashlight....or the ear thingy. No, stay out of the drawers...I don't KNOW when the doctor is coming. Yes it will still be light out when we get home (I HOPE!) .Yes, I know your brother just touched you. We are in a room the size of a volkswagen, he can't help it." And on and on. In the time I had to think and reflect, I came to the conclusion that there are tiny video cameras in each exam room. They office staff monitor these cameras and let the doctors know which room of patients is about to implode (and I am sure they are extremely entertained at the same time) When the doctor finally got to our room, she was greeted by one child spread human X-style on the floor in a puddle of goldfish snack cracker crumbs, another with one arm through each of the pelvic exam feet stirrups pretending he was in jail, and the sick one sprawled across my lap and spilling over into the extra chair. The look on her face read "Had I only known, I would have ordered tranquilizers." And in two minutes, she was gone. Just like that. I was left with the carnage of a 35 minute wait with three kids in a room smaller than my closet and a prescription. We cleaned what we could and left with three tired and crabby kids. When offered stickers, I think they shot the nurse such and evil glance, that she went right to the campus chapel and prayed for their demon souls. We walked down the hall to the in-house pharmacy. I handed the attendant my prescription. She chirpily sang "Thank you! This should only take about 20 minutes!" I wanted to scream "What is it with you people and your 20 goddamn MINUTES! By 20 you clearly mean 30 or more, so why don't you just say 'Ma'am, we understand that this is the last place on earth you would rather be with three children, because we have nothing here to occupy or entertain them, but we get a kick out of watching you go all Mommy Dearest on them while trying to keep your cool in public, so even though we have your prescription ready, were going to make you wait to see what your breaking point is' " She apparently read my mind. She sheepishly replied with "Or, we are open until 8. You can come back and pick it up." Ya think?