Words Of Wisdom From The Waiting Room

My weekly schedule involves appointments, lots of them. I visit doctors so often, it almost resembles a full-time job. And as most of you have experienced, I too spend the majority of this time in the doctor’s waiting rooms…..waiting. When this first began, I dreaded the time spent in these waiting rooms. Typically, no matter how much they try, doctor’s waiting rooms seem cold and impersonal…..reminiscent of cattle holds. They also typically are crowded with people…..which I found intimidating in the beginning. But that has all changed for me.

After many years of sitting quietly in the waiting rooms, observing others and nervously fidgeting…..hoping time would fast forward at my will…..I began to notice things. Or should I say one big thing. As crowded as waiting rooms can be, I always experienced a profound sense of being alone. People surrounding me everywhere I looked, yet still feeling incredibly lonely. Then it dawned on me. I bet they feel alone too. How sad that so many of us pack in the same room for such an extended period and simultaneously feel so cut off from others. We sit there almost as if our own impenetrable force fields surround us…..ala Star Trek…..and nobody can get through our shields. We don’t chat with each other, we don’t attempt to bond even a little, and for heaven’s sake we absolutely never maintain eye contact. But why is that? I wondered…..just as I was guilty for perpetuating the same.  So I decided to change the rules.

I began a campaign designed to engage my fellow doctor travelers. And this campaign has turned into one of my life’s most rewarding and joyful experiences to date.  I watched a TED Talk where this brave woman sought to engage fellow travelers on places like the NY subway system by using humor to break the silence. She takes bottles of bubbles with her everywhere she goes…..among other goodies. And her payoff is spectacular. I watched her talk and thought, okay I can do that too. So I did.

I bought a jar of bubbles from the dollar store and with some trepidation, unleashed it in the first waiting room I sat in that actually had a toddler in it…..felt a little less weird that way. That first attempt was such a huge success for me…..chatting with little ones, then their parents, making people smile. I felt invigorated. To be honest, some doctor’s waiting rooms did not appreciate my gestures in the least, to which I humbly apologized and ceased blowing my bubbles. But what that one idea did for me more than anything was give me the courage to break out of the mold and interact  with fellow patients. For that I am eternally grateful.

I have shared in a multitude of conversations ever since that day. Some of my waiting room chats have come along at the “perfect” time…..lifting my spirits when all I had felt was dread. I had one such experience just the other day. I had received a phone call from a specialist office asking me to come in as soon as possible…..never a good thing to hear in my experience. I questioned the caller and received information that through me for a loop. The doctor had carefully analyzed all my pre-surgery blood work and felt I had an ominous condition called TTP. The receptionist squeezed me in for an emergency visit the next day…..which meant the doctor would fit me in between his long ago scheduled patients and be ready for a long wait. As I sat in the waiting room…..no bubbles this time, just a sketch pad and multiple colored pencils…..curiosity drew a number of fellow patients into a chat with me.

This is how I met Carl. Carl has chocolate-brown hair sprinkled with flecks of silver. He appears a trim and fit senior fellow standing five foot ten. His complexion is youthful and his eyes full of life. Carl noticed my sketching (scribbling really) and began a conversation with me. Turns out this dignified fellow was all of 95 years young. Astonished, I asked for his secret to such vibrant longevity. Support, he said, support and love. He married to his second wife for 60 years and has 5 children, 12 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandson. Truly a blessed man, he declared. He stated that he never smoked, never dabbled with drugs, quit his occasional drinking at age 75, and forced himself to exercise everyday. But the number one thing he gave credit to for his long and fruitful life was a strong and loving support system. That support system is what pulled him through his massive heart attack 15 years ago. That support system helped him when his wife battled with ovarian cancer 30 years ago, and when he fought with prostate cancer less than 5 years ago. He was smiling from ear to ear as he told me that he absolutely had conflict within his group of friends and loved ones, but conflict was a good thing as far as he was concerned. Conflict, but never violence, he emphasized. He asked me if I wanted to know the secret to joy and bliss. Of course I did. He pointed to my arms and said to wrap them around as many people as I possibly could. Then….. as I sat there still soaking all this in….. he wrapped his around me.

Well, I am sitting here typing this and bawling like a baby. But I’m not crying because I am sad. I am crying with happiness. I am crying because I am overwhelmed even now with the precious gift Carl has given to me.

And I want to share that gift with all of you.

With love

to all.


25 thoughts on “Words Of Wisdom From The Waiting Room

  1. Wonderful post, thank you for that delightful read.
    Carl has miracles to spare, it seems… 😉
    I leave as a little tear sparkles in my eyes…

  2. Love the post. Daily life, that’s the true life.

  3. When I am in the waiting room I just read the news and blogs on my phone. I think if someone blew bubbles at me I would probably laugh and have a chat with them though.

  4. Completely covered in Goose-bumps! 🙂 Thank you!

  5. nursenoosha says:

    Beautiful post, brought tears to my eyes. Unfortunately we never see patients like Carl in our waiting room. I wish we did it would sure lift the moral and ease the tension of the people in the room.
    Peace, Love and Happiness 😮

  6. utesmile says:

    This is fantastic, what a great idea to interact with them, I never like the awlward silence at a doctors. I ususally bring a book or my knitting…..whereas the knitting starts conversations. Carl certainly has it all sorted and I totally agree with him, wrap your arms round as many people as you can…..I will try this! Everyone needs love! Great Post!

  7. Bourbon says:

    Wow….. this has got to actually be one of the best posts I’ve read… THIS has made a mark on me, thank you xox

  8. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    Wow. Amazing how you meet people. It really seems to be, you have to go out of your way. Because, you know, I can be as insular as the next person … but this bubbles business is really ‘out there’. It seems crazy (well suited to YOUR handle!!).

    It’s great how you changed things, changed your visits, & of course met Carl, worthy of comment. 🙂

    • wellcallmecrazy says:

      Thanks. Yep, I think “well call me crazy” is a name I am quite suited for. Glad you stopped by. Thanks again.

  9. Hello there! I’m just stopping by to let you know that you won the Daring Greatly book giveaway on analyfe! If you’d like to email your address to epmcnaughton@gmail.com, I’ll send the book out to you this week. Thanks for participating!

  10. Dixie Lil says:

    Lovely post. . I believe we need to do whatever we can to make the world a better place.

  11. What an amazing story of courage and inspiration!! I salute you for being brave enough to make doctor’s waiting rooms less cold, less alone, less frightening. I am humbled by your one single mission – that to make others feel less alone in life. Thank you for the heartwarming story of Carl. By sharing his great philosophy of life, I could almost feel his vibrant love for life sitting here a thousand miles away. So much hugs for this ray of light today. Sharon

  12. Ray's Mom says:

    A marvelous story and what a surprise ending. Hope you got good news from the doctor.

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