I was sitting in an exam room yesterday afternoon, as a new patient, feeling acutely aware. With our new insurance, we have a PCP and everything has to go through them. The funny thing about them, however, is they are basically chosen at random. Having a not so great history with doctors, I was feeling pretty vulnerable sitting there.
From the moment I had walked through their office door, there were a few things that struck me as unexpected though.
One being their completely dated office setting. It’s not that I think I deserve to be seen on some fancy sitcom physician office set or anything, but the decor and filing system were pretty significantly dated. Something about that comforted me.
Second, was the reception/nurse staff. Unbelievably kind. I had certainly expected your standard office curt, but not this.
Third, during my hour mostly alone, in the exam room, waiting- I took in the sights and sounds. Things like the 1960’s textured wall paper, the Normal Rockwell art on the wall and the hand embroidered pillow case on the very old (actual table) exam table. I realized that all of it set a tone that felt so much less industrial than anything I had experienced before. It felt warm and nurturing. I am sure there are people out there who might prefer a sterile atmosphere, but I realized yesterday that I’m not one of them. (and let me point out, it was CLEAN…)
When my doctor finally made her way in, I liked her instantly. There were a few things we didn’t quite see eye to eye on, but that didn’t affect my opinion of her. She took the time to talk to me, and to listen. She actually cared about the things that are wrong and wants to help make them better. She showed incredible kindness, interest and patience.
For the past year and a half I have been significantly deaf in my right ear. It came in the middle of my six month adventure with pneumonia and several doctors assured me it would “clear itself up, in time.” I left that office yesterday, with my hearing completely restored. (Even 16 hours later I am still overwhelmed and adjusting, as my ear had overcompensated trying to hear for so long, that everything is so loud and overstimulating. )
On the wall beside the chair I had waited in, was framed a yellowed print of a poem by Max Ehrman. Though I may be outing myself in a minority, I’ll admit I hadn’t ever read it before. As I had quite a bit of time, waiting, I read it again and again. Each time that I did, I felt parts of my spirit lift and soar. It’s truly beautiful and I feel like in more than the one (hearing) way, I left her office a better person. More aware, more appreciative of my surroundings… I don’t know, maybe I’m just classic example of someone who REALLY needed some time to herself. ha ha… At any rate, I’m going to leave you with the poem.
“Go Placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love- for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment is it perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you from misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all it’s sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. ” ~ Max Ehrman Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life