I used to be able to relax in a doctor's waiting room. I'd bring a book and immerse myself.
Now, they all play music I don't enjoy and way too loud; or have CNN on; or worse, Sanjay Gupta telling me how to be healthier. After five minutes of his shtik I usually feel more miserable and worried that I might be sicker than I think.
So I bring my earbuds and play my music loud to drown it all out, and often don't hear the nurse who likely as not mispronounces my name. But last week the dermatologist's office wasn't crowded when I got there, the TV wasn't too loud, the nurse got my name right (I thanked her), and I didn't have to wait long once I was inside.
All of that had me moderately cheerful and I stayed that way despite that fact that I found out at the end of my visit I had to return in two weeks for some minor surgery. As I left, I thanked my dermatologist and wished him a Happy New Year since I hadn't seem him yet in 2015.
He grinned and said, "Thanks for thinking outside of the box."
I made my next appointment at the desk and it was only on the way to my car that what he'd said sunk in. I had spoken to him person-to-person, not just patient-to-doctor -- and he was grateful.
Just as we might get tired of feeling like we're just a symptom or a problem at a doctor's office, I suppose doctors sometimes can feel stuck being seen one-dimensionally, too.
Lev Raphael is the author of 25 books, most recently Assault With a Deadly Lie, a novel of suspense about out-of-control cops.