Worth the Wait


Why you want the doctor you have to wait for…but not wait too long for.

When I tell people that I’m married to a pediatrician, the conversation usually goes something like this:

“Oh, that’s great that you married a pediatrician! Is he accepting new patients?”

Why, yes, yes he is! {Flattered feelings abound here.} We actually just moved, so he’ll be accepting new patients in Lewisville in March!

And then, the dreaded follow-up question:

Oh, and will I have to wait forever?”

This one is always a tough one for me to answer. As a parent, I feel you. Waiting in an office with a sick kid {when you’ve most likely been up most of the night, and didn’t want to risk puke in the car while you waited in the drive thru line at Starbucks, so now you’re tired, cranky, coffee-less and worried about your kid} is no fun. No fun at all.

It’s also not fun when you worry about the germs spread in the waiting room, the choice words of other stressed out parents while you wait that you know you’re going to have to explain to your kids later (“No, honey, we don’t say *!@: because it’s not nice. Yes, I heard that man say it on his phone, but it’s not something we’re going to say.” …all the while praying that tomorrow isn’t a church day because you know your kid will remember it. He doesn’t forget anything! He’s like an elephant! No, wait, how do I know that elephants remember everything again? It’s got to be a camel. No, camels retain water, not information…. “No, Noah, you can’t SAY THAT WORD TO YOUR BROTHER!!!!”), but I have to believe that there’s a balance here. You also don’t want the doctor who is like clock work, getting you in and out of his or her office in fifteen minutes with no one waiting. What happens when it’s your kid who needs the extra attention of the doctor? Or when it’s you who needs questions answered about a potentially scary diagnosis? What happens then? Will this doctor take the extra time necessary to be thorough, to answer your questions, even if it means falling behind? Or, second to that, will your time be shortened because he or she fell behind? Yuck.

Balance is Best!

I really, truly believe here that striking a balance is best. No, you don’t want to wait two hours every time you see your doc. What does that say about him or her ability and confidence as a physician? Yes, you’d appreciate a call when your doc is running late (so you can sit through that Starbucks line). Most days, we wait about an hour total, and we’re in and out of the car in an hour and fifteen minutes. But, sometimes you’re going to have to wait two hours, and you won’t get that phone call. Justin has had many a hectic days, days when everything seems to run like clockwork, and then, bam! A kid needs oxygen for asthma and it can’t wait until the hospital. A mom comes in bawling her eyes out because her newborn won’t. quit. crying. A dad calls after picking up his kid at day care because he’s broken a bone or bumped his head harder than dad thinks he should have. It just happens. It happens to you, it happens to me.  And when it happens,  I want the doctor who will be thorough, who will check out every square inch of my child and reassure me that my baby will be ok. Or, hopefully this won’t happen to you, will take every step necessary when it looks like things might not be ok, and will do so regardless of the repercussions.

Those scenarios take time; unexpected, precious minutes and seconds that are prolonging your visit. After that happens five times in a day, a doctor is going to get backed up. But, I think that kind of a doctor is worth the wait.

Tips for Waiting Well

Talk to the other parents.

Another reason you might be waiting that I didn’t mention above is that, if you’re waiting regularly, it might be just that your doctor is a really great, favorite doctor. That’s got to be for a reason. Does he or she just really love kids? Has he or she made a difference in the lives of those around you, waiting also? It’s worth asking the other parents who are also waiting for your doc. It might be that another parent in the waiting room can share a story with you about their baby, why they love the doctor, and give you a little perspective. Chances are, they’re there for many of the same reasons, and there’s bound to be someone there who has a story that will warm your heart and prompt you to hold your baby a little closer.

Side Note:

And, while we’re on the topic: If you’re not waiting for your pediatrician, why not? Is it because they have some secret about scheduling that most doctors don’t know about? Or is it there some other reason no one else in sharing the waiting room with you? Something to think about… Or, if you’re having to wait two hours every single time you go, that might mean something, too. Again, balance is key here. It usually takes us about an hour, from leaving the car seat to getting into the car seat again, at the doctor’s office. I never feel rushed, I feel like there’s extra time when I need it, and I saw a great doctor in Abilene and look forward to seeing our new one next week.

Bring something for your kids to do.

So, when you’re in the waiting room, please make sure that you check yourself. Yep, today it is acceptable to let little Gracie have ten more minutes of screen time (after she’s two, of course) so you can pray, for yourselves and for those precious lives being mended behind the door you’re so anxious to get into. And, bringing something for your kiddos to do will also prevent him or her from playing with any toys of the other sick kids, therefore hopefully preventing your kid from getting his germs. Or, if your kid is the trash can gripper of the day, prevent him from spreading his germs to those who just have an ear infection. Also, a snack will help kids. I’m always amazed at how many wrongs I can fix with a banana or some goldfish and some water.

What if I have a bad day?

And, when you blow up and lose it and have a bad day waiting, there’s grace for you. But, that grace will be more forthcoming if you apologize before you leave; everyone understands the fear that accompanies many pediatric visits. Apologizing always makes the receptionist’s job easier and will help her meet you with a smile the next time Gracie girl shoves macaroni up her nose…again. Take a breath, thank God for a great doctor, and when you’re coming in for a well visit, feel free to call and ask if your doc is running on time.


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