Monday, February 7, 2011

There's no time to wait!

Two and a half hours we've been waiting in this room, the waiting room of Baptist Minor Medical. Temperature-controlled, relatively quiet (except for the constant rattling-off of newscasters on CNN news), cushioned chairs, clean bathrooms. Nevermind these above-quality conditions - two and a half hours is a long time to wait. And don't you think we haven't gotten an earful of it.

Our short-term neighbor here on this side of the waiting room (thankfully, she's just now gone back to the exam room) was plenty vocal for all of us. She even went to the front desk to ask if they knew how long it would be, as they - obviously annoyed - replied that they told her from the beginning it would be 1-1/2 to 2 hours (which can really mean 2-4 hours). Then, she proceeded to mutter expletives or other signs of frustration for the rest of her wait.

In the midst of this, she called as many people in her cell phone's address book as she could cram into that 2 hours, giving us the pleasure of hearing her rudeness, argumentative nature, and less than quiet demeanor (while on the phone with Greyhound bus company, "Can I speak to someone who speaks English? Because you obviously don't understand my question.")

As I listen and take this all in, I've been struck by the lack of gratefulness. Much of the world has to walk miles, maybe even for multiple days, to reach a place that can offer healthcare. Then, among throngs of others with ailments, wait out-of-doors, even in extreme weather conditions, with a hole in the ground a few hundred feet away in which to use the bathroom.

But is there another option?

Sure there is; and people choose it all the time. Stay at home. Don't acknowledge sickness or just become numb to it and hope for survival for as long as possible.

This is a hopelessly insufficient look at health and access to care for much of the world, especially from someone who hasn't had to use these services, but from most angles, gratefulness is a good starting place.

This is not an excuse to not work for change where healthcare is concerned for our friends in desperate situations (both in the U.S. and around the world) but for my neighbor in the waiting room, gratefulness is the only thing that could have changed her perspective today.

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