I’m sitting in the waiting room for what I know will be at least half an hour – and that’s considered quick. If my appointment is at 9 AM, I’m expected to be there at 8.30 AM to check in but I know I won’t be seen before 9.30 AM. I can wait half an hour, that’s not a big deal. Only it’s not just half an hour; it’s a whole hour from the time I check in to the time I’m escorted from the waiting room to an examination room and then another half hour between getting my vitals checked and waiting for the doctor to see me. Still, I guess that’s fine. Thankfully I don’t have to do this often so I can spare the time. I finally get into the examination room and I sit on a chair against a wall. No need to get up on the exam table just yet. The CNA sits down at the computer but it’s positioned perpendicular to my chair so I’m seeing more of her back and profile than her face.
She logs in quickly, click, click, click. She’s probably done this a thousand times already. “What brings you in today?”
“Just here for my annual physical,” I say.
Click, click, clickity-click click
“Any pain today?”
“Have you fallen in the past 7 days?”
“Nope” – Click
When she asks the next two questions, she maintains the same speed with which she asks and clicks to indicate my response, which throws me off a bit.
“Do you feel sad or have little interest in doing things?” “No” – Click “Has anyone threatened to hurt you?” “No” – Click
She asks quickly and mechanically and I wonder how many times she asks those questions per day, how many different people she asks per week. I get it; when you assume the answer is most likely going to be “No,” you breeze through the questions.
So, I’m sitting there, kind of facing her back, wondering if anything were different if I said “Yes.” Would she just Click something else and move on to the next question? What if I hesitated to answer? Would she have turned around to check if my eyes were watering or if there was some other reason behind my hesitation?
I’m looking at her back/profile knowing that it probably doesn’t matter whether I had said “Yes” or “No.” She just needs to check a box on the form. I just wonder, had I wanted to say “Yes” to either, would I have felt comfortable or courageous enough to say it? Would I have felt too alienated by her position and the rapid click, click, clicking as she mechanically fills out the form? Could such a brief interaction move me to open up about something for the first time or confirm my suspicion that it doesn’t really matter?
I don’t know but every time I get asked those questions and say “No,” I wonder if I’d ever say “Yes” if that ever actually were the answer.
© Leila Chammas