I May Be Sick But Damn I Look Good

Yesterday was Inova Clinic Day. That’s the day every three months when I get to:

  1. Walk 6 minutes up and down a hallway while a nurse monitors my heart rate, oxygen saturation, and unofficially, my disposition. Plus counts how long I stop and lean up against a wall and pant. But tries not to be too judgy. Depending on the nurse.
  2. They alternate options so I do one of each every six months. Either have an echocardiogram or blow into a bunch of tubes for a long, long time, better known as pulmonary function tests. In the biz we refer to these as PFTs.
  3. Wait. And wait some more, followed by waiting.
  4. Wait some more and wonder why I didn’t bring a snack.
  5. Eavesdrop on other waiting patients and try to glean blog material. Also see what kind of snack they brought. Wonder why people aren’t friendlier and can’t be bothered to offer me half of their sandwich.
  6. Spend 15 minutes with a nurse going over everything they already know, like what meds I take, while she busily types away into the computer system. For all I know she is typing “I am so freakin’ bored right now,” but it certainly looks official.
  7. See the doctor for approximately 12 minutes.
  8. Wait at front desk approximately 22 minutes to make my next appointment.
  9. Go to the Heart Healthy Café for lunch in the hopes they have something delicious. Settle for a salad and small cup of ice water.
  10. Leave hungry and grumpy.

caduceus medical clipart

But yesterday set an all time record for waiting. Even for them. My walk and PFT were scheduled for 8:30. I arrived at 8:05 and was finally taken back at 8:50. We finished up at 9:45, perfect for my 10:00 appointment. I checked in upstairs at 9:50. On a “normal” day, I would be taken back to the exam room at 10:30ish, seen by the nurse at 10:45ish, and seen by the doctor at 11:15ish.

Yesterday, the clock just kept ticking away. I watched all the tributes to Prince on the big TV in the waiting area. Then I watched more tributes. Then I eavesdropped on people having really boring conversations about their own medical conditions, which are way less captivating than my own. Finally at 11:15, I asked the front desk if something was wrong. The woman called to the back, said “Uh huh. Right. Uh huh. Yes. I will tell her” then looked at me and said they were running behind. At least that mystery was solved.

Finally, at 11:45, they called me back. The nurse apologized profusely and I smiled and said it was no problem because, trust me, you want to stay in the good graces of the staff.

Then I sat and looked around the room, in which sadly, there is nothing to look at.

One exciting view while waiting for doc

One exciting view while waiting for doc

Another wall in exam room with clock permanently stopped at 7:45. Nice trick, but I have a watch.

Another wall in exam room with clock permanently stopped at 7:45. Nice trick, but I have a watch.

Least exciting exam room view

Least exciting exam room view

The doctor came in around 12:15 and said she couldn’t believe I had been waiting more than two hours. I told her that made two of us! Then I told her she is worth the wait, because she is. And because I want to be her most favoritest patient ever, because I’m insecure in her true love for me. We chatted for a few minutes about the results of my PFTs, my meds, and my recent overdose, which she found impressive. She listened to my heart and lungs and checked my legs for edema. She shocked me by telling me for now we are not changing anything. No titrating up, down or sideways. No changes. Epic.


Then she complimented me on my hair. A lot. She even asked me how I get it looking like that, etc. I preened and silently congratulated myself on my excellent hair finishing. I flipped my hair dramatically a couple of times.

And that was that. I waited forever at the front desk to schedule my next appointment, but managed to snag one on a decent day at a decent hour. I went up to the lame salad bar and had a crappy salad and promised myself that next time I will bring a really good snack. And I will eat it in the waiting room and not offer anyone so much as a sniff of it. And I will wait quietly for hours, or even days if necessary, to see the doctor again.

And although it will be August, and an uphill battle at best, I will spend lots and lots of time on my hair that morning. Because I’ve already won the award for Best Hair, and I finally have my big shot at being Most Beloved Patient. It’s good to have goals.

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22 Responses to I May Be Sick But Damn I Look Good

  1. Pam Waits says:

    In the infamous words of Billy Crystal – “You know, my dear, my father used to say to me – Nando, don’t be a schnook. It’s not how you feel, it’s how you look. He was marvelous but you, darling, you look marvelous – absolutely marvelous. And this is from my heart which is deep inside my body, it is better to look good than to feel good.” Personally, I want both! We all know you already look good, here’s hoping you feel good, too…and that you don’t have to spend hours waiting in the process.

    • Jill Foer Hirsch says:

      The wisdom of an old Jewish man, surpassed only by your wisdom. Thank you for being my oracle!

  2. Joanne schreiber says:

    I feel your pain. Wish I could be so good humored in a similar situation. What a gift!
    After waiting 1 hour in the Waiting Room, and 1 hour and 10 minutes in the exam room, in a paper cape, with 2 inquiries”did she forget me?” I did the Unthinkable: I got dressed and asked the only person left in the front office ( lunch time) for another appt. That’s what it took! The Doc emerged, apologetic. She said she was trying to talk some sense into a 23 yr. old, 300 lb girl that she should not eat in Burger King everyday. What am I? Chopped Liver? Explain my test results and new meds! Don’t give me palpitations!
    After 4 pleading, grovelling requests, I will be seeing another Doc. In the meantime, for the past 2 months, I still feel disrespected and neglected by this Hopkins Cardiologist!
    Loved the photos. Wish I would have taken some to compare!

    • Jill Foer Hirsch says:

      The good news is I don’t have to don a cape for this doctor. So no undressing. And if I walk out I’m screwed because they won’t have an opening for months. So might as well go with the flow, I figure. I took pics because I was so bored!!

      For the record, you are not chopped liver!!

  3. Ah, yes, since I now go to the Seguro Popular instead of a private doctor, I totally know about waiting around. I am supposed to show up at least an hour ahead of my appointment time, because the actual time means nothing, they see you in the order you show up! I once got to be first, but I think all the rest of the patients were on vacation at the beach or something since it was Easter week, normally I am number 4 or 5. I’m also jealous of you getting to eat snacks, the only thing allowed in the waiting area is water. You should totally bring some great snacks, guaranteed if you have food, something to drink, and a book you don’t want to put down, you’ll get in early. I think the wait is directly proportional to the amount of discomfort you are in. Oh, yeah, bring a nice pillow too.

    You do have good hair, I remember reading about your routine. It’s beyond my ability to tame the frizz. The last time I tried to use a round brush on my hair, I got it tangled and Duke had to slowly extract the brush hair by hair. So I now have shaggy hair, I spray some stuff in it, run my finger through it and hope for the best.

    • Jill Foer Hirsch says:

      This is a private doctor, one of the foremost experts in my condition. They just have way too many patients and not enough docs and exam rooms to go around. There are a whole lot of sick people out there. Plus people travel from all over to go to this clinic; they have the highest lung transplant success rate in the country or something. They’re too busy to notice even if you have a snack!

      As to my hair, I’ve only recently tackled the frizz thanks to my hairdresser and some great products…and having time to fuss with it because I’m not working.Gotta take the small victories where you can find them!

  4. This post just cheered my whole day…
    Mr.P just walked in wanting to know what was so funny. I showed him the exam room pictures and burst out laughing again… He gave me the “huh?” look and walked out as I was wiping laughter tears. …BTW: Way to rock the best hair award.

  5. Wendy Medler says:

    Hi Jill-
    How ironic for I had a cardiologist appt at 845 Friday- way to early for me – but thought the last few 2 hours wait almost caused me heart attacks – not too bad I was out about 9:45 – then went for my Passover bagel w/ whitefish & lox “doc near our only deli “Chutzpah: to celebrate my blood pressure being normal and still having to stay on all my heart meds – I really need an office manager to help me with all my follow ups of the 8 specialists – i really do have a file box for my referrals – hope the next 6 months are boring for you!! Guess in some ways our lives are meant to be … builds are character and humor!!!

    • Jill Foer Hirsch says:

      I love that you had a Passover bagel. I’m feeling better about the pita bread I’m eating tonight, which is at least a little less leavened than full on bread. Or at least I think it is. And yes, perhaps we should share an assistant who could keep our appointments straight and keep us from overdosing.

  6. Ann Koplow says:

    I TOTALLY relate to this post. Damn I look good also.

    • Jill Foer Hirsch says:

      It’s the best thing I hear all the time “but you don’t look sick!” I saw a meme yesterday with that same remark, and the response was “and you don’t look stupid, but…”

      Here’s to looking damn good my friend! Maybe one day we will meet IRL (in real life, an acronym I just learned).

      • Do you get the squint eye from people who look at you and are amazed that you look good? Like you are not allowed to take care of yourself?
        I get that from women acquaintances, like they expect me to pour ashes on my head and tear my clothes. Part of the way I fight depression is to pay attention to how I look. Some days it’s a battle to get out of my pjs, some days it’s a battle to get undressed for bed.

        • I think people just expect me to look sick. Even when I was doing chemo, I may have been bald but I still wasn’t leaving the house without mascara if I could help it.

  7. Betsey says:

    Nice trick, but I have a watch – LOL!

  8. Carol Ferenc says:

    Well, everyone knows it’s more important to look good than to feel good. BTW ~ since it will be August next time, I’d load that cooler up with chips, salsa and margaritas, too.

    • Jill Foer Hirsch says:

      At least I have one of the two going for me! And sadly, your cooler selections will not work. My two severe restrictions are salt and fluid. So, margarita es no bueno. Chips are out. And salsa counts as a partial liquid. Sigh.

  9. I commend your patience. I would have rescheduled and left. Hopefully the best hair award made it all worthwhile. Next time don’t bring a snack, bring a whole damn cooler! Bring your jammies and toothbrush. Bring games and friends. That should scare the bejesus out of the staff and put you to the top of the list.

    • Jill Foer Hirsch says:

      Ahh, clearly you don’t understand how fortunate I am to even be seen at Inova! People are put on waiting lists for months and months. There is no such thing as “rescheduling” unless you care to wait another 3+ months. I am fully at their mercy. And grateful for the privilege!

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