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Monday, October 9, 2000

Gray, drizzly day, the kind that screams "fall." Or "autumn," if you prefer. It was screaming something, and in a threatening tone that said the heavens could open up at any minute (although they never did, and the rain that fell was barely more than mist).

Mom had another appointment with the eye doctor this morning. She's not progressing as well as she'd like since the surgery last Wednesday. From what they told her before the operation, she expected to be seeing by now, at least well enough to drive and possibly better than she ever has. They keep telling her that everything went well, but it's frustrating to have this film over her eye. She can see light and some colors, but that's all.

I got to her house a bit early, and we took a chance on getting in to see the doctor before the scheduled time. Should have known better. The office had neglected to warn us that their parking lot was being paved this morning (yes, in the rain), so we drove around the block and parked on the street. After feeding the meter, we walked the two long city blocks to the office, getting there fifteen minutes early.

By the time we'd waited half an hour, I was getting a little antsy. Not for myself, because I was doing what I wanted to do. But Mom didn't need to be sitting there feeling as if she was being ignored in her time of need. (I don't know that she actually felt that strongly. I'm projecting.)

After they showed her into the examining room, I noticed that the pavers had given up for the day and opened up the parking lot. I'm sure they'll have to come back (probably the day of Mom's next appointment), since there were low spots and rough patches. But the meter was running out, so I hiked the half-mile to the car and drove it back.

Then I sat and waited. And waited and waited. Considering how few patients I saw in there, it was unbelievable how many people seemed to be walking purposefully from one corridor to another, in and out of doorways, moving from room to room as if they were characters in a British farce (except they didn't slam the doors, but closed them gently).

Mom's doctor was one of these characters, which led me to believe that she wasn't getting much of his attention. I don't know how much time he actually spent with her, but we were in that office for an hour and a half. And she got pretty much the same answer she was given the last time, that she's progressing normally. Only now he's telling her it could take up to two weeks before she's seeing normally again.

Let me be clear about this. I was happy to take the time to make sure Mom got to her appointment. I would have taken the whole day (even on a Monday) if she'd needed me.

But I was fuming before they ever called her name, not just for her but for the older woman who came in and apologized for being late because she, too, had to park so far away. She said she could walk only a short stretch at a time without stopping to rest. They asked her to take a seat, and I know for a fact that she sat there for over half an hour before her turn came up.

I realize that emergencies come up and delays are unavoidable. But there were more nurses and receptionists and billing specialists in the office than there were patients. They all seemed to have something important to do in the next room, or down the hall. They could have let us know that they were running behind, and told us how long we might have to wait. And by "we," I don't mean me. Not this time, anyway.

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