Waiting Room Worries
Have you ever spent several excruciating hours in a hospital waiting room? If you haven't, you are lucky. If you have, you know how much the worry and the waiting can take a toll on the people around you. It depends on who and why you are waiting, but for many people, it is room fraught with worry.
You usually have an assortment of waiters who have been signed in, registered, and are walking around with name tags on their shirts. Most people huddle together in small groups and speak quietly or stare at their phones. Occasionally, you get the loud talker, who wears earbuds but everyone within in 50 mile radius is treated to his conversation -whether they want to listen or not. If you are lucky, it is punctuated by expletives that make the little old ladies blush. Then there are the sleepers. These waiters contort themselves into some strikingly horrible positions in the uncomfortable furniture and miraculously fall asleep. Many of them resemble bone-less chickens. In betwixt the loud talkers and sleepers, are the gadget-gurus who seem to own every single electronic gadget on the market. The gadget-gurus usually park themselves near an outlet and hog any all available electricity. You will often see gadget-gurus walking around with their tech filled backpacks stalking available outlets.
Despite the loud-talkers, sleepers, and gadget-gurus are normal people who are just trying to make it through. Even though many hospital waiting rooms are equipped with televisions playing banal programming or wall-sized tranquil aquariums, the waiting room atmosphere is one of worry and stress. There is no getting around this. So here are my hospital waiting room survival lessons.
Ten Things to Help in the Waiting Room
- Bring a sweater or sweatshirt regardless of the season. Waiting rooms are often very cold and just sitting there for hours on end can put you in a deep freeze. A sweatshirt can easily double as a pillow in case you want to try your luck at contorting yourself to attempt a nap.
- Bring headphones or earbuds, preferably the noise canceling kind. This will protect you from other people's conversations, and graphic medical details, as well as deter anyone else from talking with you. You can bring music or audio books, but sometimes I wear them just to dampen everything else around me.
- Bring a tablet or laptop. Within a four hour period, you can almost surf the whole web. It distracts you from constantly looking at the clock while simultaneously keeping your hands busy. Don't surf news sites or anything remotely connected to real life. Look up unicorns dancing on rainbows and glitter or at least some funny pet videos. Don't forget the power cords!
- Bring something handheld to do. It doesn't matter if you are a Sudoku or crossword solver, adult coloring book artist, knitter, or novel reader, just bring something that doesn't require electricity to operate. Most likely you will be too late to stalk an outlet, so you will be at the mercy of your battery. This eventually will fail and you will be left staring at your shoes. It is good to have something to do with your hands so you can work out some of the nervous energy.
- Pack your patience. Most people around you will be worried and stressed about a loved one. This increases the rate of becoming irrationally annoyed or over-emotional. Speak softly and smile. Share your tissues or your mints. You don't know what the person next to you is up against - unless he or she is a loud talker and you heard the entire epic drama, twice.
- Be courteous. Hold the elevator door. Smile. Say thank you and please. Most of the hospital staff has been trained to deal with you and your restless anxiety filled emotions, but do them a favor and remember to treat them like humans and not your captors. Besides, you are probably wanting to cash in on any of the Karma you may have banked thus far.
- Give up your seat to someone else. This is a sacrifice that not many are willing to do. If you are the only one sitting in a four pod waiting room chair bank, see if there is something else available. Let the families huddle together. This will increase your Karma and probably reduce your chances of being in the middle of a conversation you never wanted to hear in the first place.
- Bring snacks, single dollars, and change. If you are lucky, there will be a hospital cafeteria that will serve coffee, sugary snacks, and overpriced day-old turkey sandwiches. If you are unlucky, you will be forced to dine on vending machine fair. Do not fall into the trap thinking that you won't be hungry on the account of your nerves. Inevitably you will feel the need to hunt and gather coffee, a bag of Fritos, some mints, more coffee, some water, and a chocolate chip cookie, even if you are not hungry.
- Bring Tylenol or headache medicine, even if you don't get headaches. You may even want to bring some Tums or other stomach remedies as well, in preparation for your vending machine binges and the stress headache you get from clenching your jaw for four and a half hours, while you tell everyone that you are fine.
- Be positive. Regardless of what you and your patient-loved-one are facing, medical studies have proven that a patient's positive outlook can have a direct effect on his or her recovery. Whatever medical procedure is going on behind those closed doors, it is beyond most of our own capabilities. What you can do is be positive and send all those powerful positive thoughts to person behind the doors.