To get hold of a general practitioner in the land of the brave is no easy task. I was feeling sick and really in need of medical help but to my disappointment, could not get an appointment to see a doctor that day or the following day or in that week. I was lucky to get an appointment the following week. So the waiting period to
the appointment turns into a praying session. Praying that your illness does not kill you before you get medical attention and you die an untimely and unattended death. Praying that your illness does not subside and heal by itself so that by the time you get to the doctor, there is nothing wrong with you and you get embarrassed and are seen as a hypochondriac and attention seeker. The human body is sometimes like a car that gives you problems, but the moment you take your car to a mechanic, the car drives like a brand new vehicle – nothing wrong.
Come appointment day, you are in such good shape, you could go ten rounds with Harry Simon in the ring and come out tops. Your acting abilities are tested because you have to act sick, remembering all the symptoms. It’s such a shame you cannot act out a fever.
The appointment was for 10h30 but I arrived at 10h00 to give time for the paper work, and then the second great wait begins. To kill time, I took a magazine, a very old magazine to keep me busy. Why is it that there are always old magazines, very old ones, at all doctors practices? It seems that those magazines were bought twenty years ago when the practise was opened. Most of the people in it are long gone but true to the Hippocratic Oath, kept alive on those pages, I guess.
One thing that I like about doctor’s waiting rooms is that the people do not make small talk. They all feel too miserable to bother each other and most of the talking is done by a shake of the head. A headshake for hallo and another shake for goodbye. Now and then, you get a silly question like; “What are you doing here” and you wish you could answer; “no, I’m here for a haircut.”
When you finally sit in front of the doctor, it is almost 13h00 but you keep your mouth shut out of respect for your life and for the doctor, you don’t complain to him about waiting, because he has your life in his hands, and that would be suicide.
You act out your ailment from two weeks ago and answer all questions with a pained expression on your face and heavy breathing, but guard against over dramatising, because you might just end up in the ICU.
At the end of the consultation, the doctor always asks; “Anything else?” and you look at him with puppy eyes and ask to be booked off – including the days when the ailment started and you treated it on your own at home. It is standard practise that they always round it off to the next Monday. Armed with a bag full of expensive medicine from the pharmacy, you have proof that you were close to death, an Oscar-worthy performance.
Same for those patients who could not wait for the doctor and opted for the undertaker.