The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Disclaimer: Ms. K truly enjoys her job, and actually finds 99% of the people she encounters to be delightful or funny or fascinating or just plain fun to be around or some combination of all of those. That said, there are those things that make you shake your head....and those things just happen to be funnier.

It's amazing how priorities change in life. For instance, on Monday I thought that a good day at work meant that people had been nice or I had accomplished a great deal or one of the docs had thanked me or whatever. After Tuesday, I now know that it's a good day at work if no one brings in a child who barfs up her body weight in macaroni and cheese in one of the rooms, leading the doctor to come out to me smiling to say "yeah....we have a little emesis problem.....can you take care of that real quick?" From "need to get a lot done and make the doctors and patients as happy as possible" to "no macaroni and cheese barf" in one day. It's all in the perspective. And perspective is just one of the many benefits you get when working in a medical office. Another is constant exposure to a particularly sturdy brand of optimism that seems to take hold of patients everywhere. Among the things they believe:

  • merely seeing the doctor is enough to resolve your symptoms. Doing anything the doctor said, up to and including taking any of the prescribed medications? Pshaw. Totally unnecessary.

  • likewise, merely being in the same room as the doctor is enough for him or her to figure out everything that might be wrong with you. Tell the doctor all my symptoms? What, I have to do EVERYTHING???

  • people working in a medical office have immune systems armed with suitcase nukes and a limitless supply of weapons for hand to hand combat. It's totally unnecessary to cover coughs, sneezes, etc.--just let it fly.

  • the doctor would be delighted to refill the medication he prescribed four years ago--even though that's the last time you saw him. And you can call at 4:57 on a Friday night and have the medication for the weekend, because no one at the office is doing anything at all except waiting for you to call.

  • the results of the x-ray/ct scan/blood test/whatever you had done half an hour ago are probably already available, and all you need to do is call the doctor's office. Right now.

  • you are the only person needing forms filled out for your child to be able to have medication at school. It's fine to wait until the day before school starts, drop them off, and then ask to pick them up again in half an hour.

  • the girl at the front desk has complete control over how quickly the doctor moves, and if you're unpleasant enough to her, you'll get seen immediately. (this one boggles me...because even if she DID have that kind of power, wouldn't being nice to her be a more effective strategy?)

  • if I lie about things like my smoking habits, my eating habits, or my exercise habits, it won't matter. Doctors are all powerful and can keep me healthy no matter what I do.
  • The nurse/medical assistant is a genius with perfect recall and mind reading abilities. Therefore, it is only necessary to remember that you take "these little blue pills that my other doctor gave me" for him or her to figure out the name, dose, and amount you take.
  • If you reason with a 20-month-old long enough, they will completely understand the reason for the shot and will stop crying and hold perfectly still without any parental intervention at all.
  • No one else waiting to see the doctor has anything else to do all day, and would absolutely love to wait a bit longer so that you can be seen after walking in half an hour late. The doctor was just sitting around waiting for you, anyway.
  • The office policy of "please do not wear perfume to our office" really means "everyone but you". We just forgot to put that in there.
  • It takes no extra time for the doctor to have two patients instead of one, so if you're there for your child's asthma and want to talk about this strange rash you've had for awhile, go for it. Appointment length is a loose concept anyway because, as mentioned above, none of the other patients have anywhere they need to be.
  • If you've booked back-to-back appointments for your children--say, 1:00 and 1:30--it's perfectly fine to "split the difference" and come in at the start time of the second appointment. What's half an hour?
  • The only reason we don't handle your request exactly the way you want it handled within 37 seconds of your phoning in is that we need you to yell at us and call us names. We wish you'd do that every day, because it has such a positive effect on our productivity.
  • While it's true that we denied your prescription refill request last month because you haven't been seen since 2005, and it's also true that you were told that but still haven't made an appointment, go ahead and try to get it refilled again. Who knows--maybe we forgot.

Today is Friday and I know that the optimists will all figure they can get their refills at 4:59 tonight. And you know, I fuss about it a bit, but I have to admire their absolute conviction and resilience. Because they'll do it again next month. And quite probably the month after that as well.

May you have a delightful Friday, and may you experience only those optimists who don't make you tear your hair out. Don't even get me started on optimistic drivers.....


  • At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Love your post today . . . just an FYI that 10 more squares are in the mail today from Montana!


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