Another waiting room experience

From the third floor window
From the third floor window

Yesterday I spent part of the day with a friend of Cindy’s who was going to a clinic for a cancer treatment. Cindy and/or her friend’s husband usually go with her, but they were not available for the beginning of her visit. So I volunteered, which isn’t like me, but it seemed like the right thing to do. She is undergoing immunotherapy for lung cancer, and lately she has been having trouble breathing, so she wanted someone with her to make sure her questions were answered. The truth is that Cindy wanted someone there to make sure all of her questions were asked. So there was I, tagging along with the questions in my mind.

When we got to the clinic, the first thing that had to be done was to have some blood taken…her blood, not mine. As we sat there, waiting for the phlebotomist to take our friend back to the drawing room, I was looking at the artwork  the walls. On one wall, though, there was a photographic portrait of a man. I assumed that it was the picture of someone who had made a large donation to the clinic, and perhaps had passed away. I was about to walk over to the picture in order to read the small brass plaque attached to the frame. That is when our friend, who saw where I was looking, said, “That’s my doctor.” I told her that I thought that it was a picture of  dead man, but she assured me that he was alive. Well, it wasn’t quite a shrine, but I did find it a bit self-aggrandizing in that he was honoring himself.

After the blood draw, they had our friend deliver her own vials to the lab which was on another floor. While she did that, I took today’s picture from the third floor lobby. I have to say that those windows had not a speck of dirt on them.

Upon her return from the lab, we repaired to the main waiting area. At first there were only a couple of people there with us, and we spent the time chatting. But then other patients started arriving and taking seats, until almost all of them were filled. There are always observations to be made in waiting rooms, so I started observing.

The most interesting conversation that we overheard was between to gentlemen. Let me assure you that we were not eavesdropping. They were speaking quite loudly. They started by comparing treatments. They were also undergoing immunotherapy with the same drug with which our friend was being treated. A woman turned to look at them and said, “He’s getting that drug too,” and nodded her head at her husband.

“Is he having any problems with it?” asked one of the men.

I thought, “He’s sitting right there. Why don’t you ask him?”

After being told that her husband had no bad side effects, the man who asked said that he had developed a rash, but didn’t want to take any steroids to treat it. Then he went on to tell the room at large that his kidney cancer couldn’t be cured and that the doctor was just trying to keep him alive a little while longer. The second man chimed in and told us all that his lung cancer had metastasized and had traveled to his brain, and they were also just keeping him alive a bit longer.

I was inclined to say to them, “Could you speak a little louder. That woman in the corner is hard of hearing and may not have heard you raining down gloom and depression on these seriously ill people.” But I held my tongue. Who has a pissing contest over who has the worse cancer and will die first?

Shortly after that our friend and I were taken into the back to see a nurse practitioner. Her vital signs were taken, and it was noted that the oxygen level in her blood was low. A nurse brought in an oxygen tank for our friend to us while she was there. The nurse practitioner told us that the lab results were good. After hearing of our friend’s trouble breathing he felt that it was probably caused by the immunotherapy which was irritating her lungs. He canceled the treatment for that day, and instead ordered an IV steroid, a prescription for oral steroids, a lung X-ray, and oxygen for her use at home. In the course of ll that, he had answered all of the questions that I had been tasked to ask. Quite satisfactory.

From there, we went into another area where there about  dozen people attached to IV drips of various kinds. The first thing that I noticed was that none of them were reading while they sat there having drugs go into their veins. If it were me, I would have been working on my reading challenge. But thankfully, it wasn’t me. Most of the people had looks o there faces similar to what you see at the slot machines in Las Vegas.

Cindy arrived as our friend was being hooked up to her steroid drip. We answered all of Cindy’s questions to her satisfaction. I was relieved. As we sat there talking, I told Cindy sotto voce that I had been gathering tidbits for my blog. She chuckled and told our friend non sotto voce that she would let her know when I posted about the visit. That caught the attention of one of the doom sayers from the waiting room. He gave us a wall-eyed stare that went on so long that I thought he might have won the contest. But after a few minutes he finally closed his eyes. I asked Cindy if she had seen him blink while his eyes were open. Like me, she had not.

At that point our friend’s husband arrived, so Cindy and I left before anything else of interest happened.

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