It’s an interesting world, the doctor’s waiting room. Men, women and children of all ages and classes are squashed together in the pursuit of the same goal: ten golden minutes with their doctor. Ladies spot an old friend or acquaintance and laugh about ailments and old times; people talk loudly on mobile phones, complaining about the wait time today; children squabble and squawk, fed up with being trapped indoors and forced to sit quietly on the wipe clean waiting room chairs. There are some who look poorly and sit quietly, desperate for their symptoms to be alleviated, but most people seem to view this as a day out, jovial and ridiculous. Amongst the hubbub, I sit, anxiously awaiting the announcement of my name and the room number for my doctor.
For an anxious hypochondriac like me, the building tension felt during the waiting stage is unbearable. I do not see anyone I know; in fact I actively avoid eye contact with anyone. Instead, I force myself to scroll through the news websites, telling my brain to thoughtfully consider the current crisis in Syria, how thankful I am to be safe in England, whether or not I agree with Boris Johnson calling off his trip to Russia. While my brain is distracted, his more clever counterpart, my heart, knows this is a diversion tactic and beats harder and louder, knocking against my chest, reminding me of the nerve-wracking moment awaiting me. Inside I ask myself incessant questions: what if they take my blood pressure? What if it’s high? What will they do? Will they weight me? If so, will they tell me off? What if they tell me something terrible? What if the doctor doesn’t care? What if…? What if…? What if…? This endless barrage of self-deprecating, hypothetical questions increase my heart rate further until I can feel it in the back of my throat, loud and unyielding.
Time ticks on and I wait and wait. Eventually, my name appears on the screen accompanied by the squealing beep of the machine. Oddly, rather than panicked, I feel relieved. The knotted words that have tangled in my brain from all thw questions and rehearsed answers, loosen. It’s time for them to be used.
I leave the anxious world of the waiting room and feel the jealousy eminating from all those who have waited longer and are desperate to spill their ailments. Walking towards the doctor’s door, I am an actor preparing myself for the role. The question is, what part am I going to play today – do I cover up with a sane, funny, calm front? Or, do I let the true neurotic, needy, troubled self out? I go for the latter and gently knock on the doctor’s door. Time to find out if I’m mad or doomed…or both.