A big part of being a parent to a special needs child is frequent trips to the doctor. And more than anything, that means waiting. After all as Jerry Seinfeld once said, “They call it a waiting room for a reason. They’re gonna use it.”
Our pediatrician’s office isn’t too bad. It’s the specialists that are the worst (especially if they are part of group that practices at a large hospital). Not only do they expect you to arrive 20 minutes early for an appointment (who are these people… TSA?), but then they offer no apologies for making you wait another whole hour before you actually get to see the doctor.
Sure, they may take you back to a private room, but first you have to see the nurse. Then, if you’re at a teaching hospital, you get to tell a medical student what’s wrong with your baby. And after all this, the doctor asks you the exact same questions!
Don’t these people talk to one another?
Look, I know they’re busy, and if it were up to them, their office probably would run like Domino’s, and you would be in and out in 30 minutes or less. But that’s never the case, and if you’re the parent of a child (especially one with special needs), you know how important it is to stick to your schedule.
If your kid eats lunch at noon, and you’re stuck at the doctor’s office and it’s 11:55, it can wreck the rest of your day. This is especially the case for me, because my daughter Lily has a feeding tube. So I can’t just give her a bag of Goldfish to snack on.
Common sense would tell you not to schedule an appointment around lunch time, but anyone who has ever endured an automated phone system and been lucky enough to actually speak to a live person on the other end, knows that doctor appointments are only available at the most inconvenient times on the most inconvenient days. But that’s a subject for another day.
So how do you keep the amount of time spent waiting to a minimum?
Simple. Be polite, but be honest.
From the moment you sign in, let everyone know that you need to leave that office in exactly one hour. That should allow plenty of time for you to see the doctor and endure a reasonable wait time.
Then, if an hour has passed and you’re still waiting… leave (or at least threaten to). After one particularly excruciating wait, I decided that I had had enough and told the nurse my daughter and I were leaving. Sure enough, the doctor was in our room before I could even put my coat on.
Parents, you wouldn’t put up with waiting an hour for your food at a restaurant. So why should you put up with the same at a doctor’s office. Sure, you’re doctor has more Ivy League degrees than your average server, but that doesn’t change the fundamental truth that you are still the customer, and their job is to serve you. Not the other way around.