In a medical waiting room, a man walks up to the front desk to speak with the receptionist.
“Greetings, I have an appointment now at 11am.”
— Full name, sir
“Mr. Bever, this way. I understand this is your first appointment with us. Fill out the form with all your information, please. You’re next. The doctor will see you as soon as you finish.
She hands him a binder with papers to fill out. Mauro hates filling out forms, especially on paper and with a pen.
“This could be done in advance on the phone or computer,” he thought before sitting down in one of the farthest chairs of the waiting room. Luckily, there weren’t that many people sharing the same area, just three more, and there was space between them for a minimal sense of privacy when filling out their personal information on the form.
The room was still and quiet. You can hear the television showing one of those programs where four people talk about everything, but say absolutely nothing. They are simply there so that you don’t feel alone and have something to listen to, no matter how empty the actual conversation may be.
Name, address, phone, email, job, medical history and pre-existing conditions, veteran or military…
He kept reading through his teeth, complaining throughout the process.
“No one actually reads this.” He hurried to finish as soon as possible and be able to go see the doctor.
“Fini!” he said, jumping up from his seat. The three people in the room and the secretary suddenly looked at him. There was no need for such celebration, but Mauro felt like it upon finishing to fill out his form.
He then handed it over to the receptionist. When the lady looked at the papers to confirm if anything was missing, she realized that half of the form was difficult to read because of the speed with which it was filled out. The words were all one on top of another. She looked up to scold Mauro, but she only caught a glimpse of his back. He had already gone inside the doctor’s office. With the door closing slowly as he entered the little room where he would actually be seen by the doctor.
A few minutes later, maybe even four had passed, a tall man entered dressed in the traditional medical white coat and glasses, hair on his arms and neck. Also a thick mustache and black hair on his head. He couldn’t have been more than 50 years old. He sat down in the big chair, designated for the doctor.
“Well, Mauro… How are you feeling today? What is the reason of your visit?”
— I have something in my ear, Dr. I don’t know what it is.
The doctor was looking at the form that his secretary handed him. Mauro was a little uneasy, thinking that the doctor would see how botched up it was, but the doctor understood everything without any difficulty. He immediately felt relieved.
“Well, let’s see.” The doctor began to use his otoscope, while continuing to ask him questions.
“Did you have any kind of pain?
“Inflammation, blood, discharge, discomfort?”
— No, none of that.
“I don’t see anything unusual. No swelling or signs of trouble. A little dirty maybe, but nothing a good cotton swab can’t clean.”
— Doctor, are you sure?
“Tell me, what is the problem?”
— I’m hearing a sound, and it won’t go away.
“A bell, a click, a whisper?”
— It’s more like a hum.
“Hmm, I understand.”
– Something like that!
“Like you just did, hmmmm.
“But what have I said? I’m just thinking.”
– Forget it. (Sighs)
“Ok, are you a veteran, or have you been active in the military?”
– Me? A soldier, lol, never.
“Are you near a construction site or race tracks or any high-decibel machinery?”
— No, but very specific. Do many racing drivers have with ear problems?
“Of course… What’s your line of work then?”
— I’m between jobs right now. But I draw and I write, and I do nothing. I sit in front of the computer almost all day.
“Well, to be honest. You have very healthy ears. Those sounds usually go away after a couple of days. It’s no cause for alarm. It’s actually very normal. How long have you been listening to that hum?”
Someone is heard knocking on the bedroom door.
“Come in,” said the doctor.
The secretary appears.
— Excuse me, Dr. You told me to let you know when the X-ray room was ready. It’s available right now.
“Perfect then. Thank you. Leave the door open, please.”
The secretary turned to leave towards the reception.
— But, Dr. Already, so fast?
“We’re going to do an X-ray, just to be sure. But I’m telling you right now that we won’t find anything. Exit the room, cross the hallway till the end and go right. The assistant will be there to help you. Here, take the form and give it to him.”
“Go on, we’ll talk later. When I have the results.”
Mauro got up grumbling and walked to the X-ray room. He’s greeted by the medical assistant, holding a vest.
“Hello, let me see your chart, please.” And hands him the lead apron. “Put this on while I prep the machine. You can stand here. I’ll be back in a jiffy.”
Mauro took off his shirt, and put on the lead apron. Then he lay down staring up at the ceiling on the metal bed next to him. It was freezing, especially since the vest only covered part of his back and left his chest and belly exposed.
“Excuse me, Mr. Bever. Why did you take off your shirt, and lay down on the bed.” He then looked at the chart. “We’re only going to take an X-ray of your face. You can put your shirt back on and stand up. We’ll use this machine right next to you. It will be the same as taking a picture, but up close.”
Mauro got up and took off his lead apron. The assistant handed him his shirt, practically putting it on, and then helped him adjust the lead apron correctly; covering his left shoulder and part of his chest. He put the x-ray machine on the left side of his face.
“Stay here. Don’t move. I’m going to take your x-ray.”
The assistant left the room and closed the door, but went back into another room with a glass wall that he could see inside towards Mauro. He pressed the button, took the x ray and went back inside. Came back to Mauro, changed the vest to his other side and now adjusted the machine to the right side. Mauro stops him before leaving.
“Wait, is this safe?
“Of course, totally.”
— But why do I have a vest on?
“To protect you from X-rays.”
— And why is it that you literally leave the room and go into another one when you go to take my X-ray?
“To protect myself from X-rays.”
“You understand where I’m going with this, right?
— Sir, don’t worry. We’re almost done with this one. Don’t move.
And he went to the other room to take the X-ray, returned a few seconds later and took Mauro’s lead apron off. He handed over his binder as well, but now he added one more form.
“We’re done here. Give this to the receptionist.”
— Is that it? Aren’t you supposed to give me my x-rays now?
“No, sir. That takes a couple of minutes. But we’re pretty fast, and you’re the next one. I should have them before lunch.”
— Shit! Lunch, I completely forgot about it. (He thought to himself). Do you think you’ll be done before noon?
“I’ll try! But please, go to the waiting room.”
— Alright… Thanks!
Mauro crossed the hallway again, this time it seemed narrower and longer, but went inside the little room, instead of the waiting room. Another patient was there waiting for the doctor.
“Are you the doctor?” Asked the woman laying down on the gurney.
Mauro realized he was holding a chart, so it could be a common mistake, even though he was wearing a rock and roll band t-shirt. He didn’t say anything, and just left the room.
Once he entered the waiting room again, he gave the chart to the receptionist. She glanced at it, checking for any new information.
“Oh, you got an X-ray done. It will be done soon. You can wait in the waiting room. (She smiled). There are also some magazines in the corner if you wish to read something.”
— Are we back in the 90s? (He whispered to himself before saying thanks and going back to the exact same seat he had before. This time it was occupied.)
Because it was almost lunchtime, there were more patients there waiting. So now there’s less space between every person. Mauro decided to avoid being around people, and just went outside. The temperature was in the upper 60’s, basically a perfect day. He could waste his time by himself in the parking lot. It was only going to be like 20 minutes more. That’s an instant in social media time.
*for part 2, click here*