This morning I went to the hospital. No, not sick. My doctor ordered some routine blood tests for me. He advised me to fast, and to be at the hospital 15 minutes before the official 8:00 opening time. That way I wouldn’t have to wait so long.
Hmmm… not sure about that last part. I got up early, showered, did NOT make coffee, put on my rain jacket, and walked down to the Bethesda. Got there at quarter to eight. Check-in. Can I just go down to the lab? No, sit here and we’ll call you. So I join a throng of waiting patients hoping to get their tests early.
I don’t spend a lot of time at the hospital. Or at the doctor’s. So this is a bit of an eye-opening experience for me.
I recognize a few of the other waiting patients. I don’t really want to visit with anyone here. So I go sit in the last row of chairs and study the ‘donor’ wall of fame. Nope, the Nikkels are not on there. That’s weird. I thought we were sending in our annual cheques. There’s a few plaques for some of our friends, but no Rudy and Sue, no Nikkel Holdings, no Holiday Travel. i’ll check into that.
The waiting room seems to equalize the classes — there’s MF (or FM, as I like to call him). And Mrs GP. But there’s also a bunch of immigrants; moms with kids, speaking Spanish, speaking French, speaking another language I don’t recognize. And we’re all here together. and there’s nothing cool about this.
After hearing the nurse who has to find each patient’s file call out everyone I know and quite a few more, she finally calls for “Rudolf Nikkel”. It’s finally my turn to have my blood test. But no, not yet. I follow the yellow arrows on the floor and they lead me to another waiting room. Hmmm… I sit down. The lady across from me motions that I need to ‘take a number’ — she’s got number 9. I get number 10. And I wait some more.
Eventually, after alternately avoiding eye contact and staring at the two big guys sitting across from me, it’s time for number 10. I follow the girl into the room where 2 other patients are getting their arms poked.
She draws 3 vials from me and then hands me a cup to fill. I go into the big bathroom and pee into the cup. I park the warm cup on the counter and then stand there wondering what’s next. Oh, I have to also have a heart test. But the other lady is ahead of me so it’s back to the waiting room. The same two guys are still sitting in the same chairs, across from me.
Finally, about 2 hours after I left home for my early morning beat-the-rush blood test, I am in the heart test room. The woman tells me to remove my shirt and lie down on the bed. I can keep my shoes on. She sticks about a dozen stickers all over my chest, and then attaches probes to each sticker. Don’t move. I hear her printer spitting out a ream of paper. Then she rips off the probes, peels off the stickers, and tells me I’m done. I get dressed and walk out of the hospital. Done for today.
I march home in the mist. I am seriously late for my first cup of coffee. The fast is over.