The waiting room wasn’t too crowded when we got to the Emergency Room at 11AM. She was taken right in and given the appropriate tests for chest pain. Then we sat there in the waiting room: she in the wheelchair and I next to her, within plug-in length of the nearest power outlet.

There weren’t any people with hacking coughs or kids sneezing, so I didn’t get that icky feeling that I went to the hospital to get sick and would have to go home to recover.

We thought we were in luck, as we became nearly the only ones in the waiting area. With the luxury of electric power, I was able to watch an entire season of that new HBO show. I got my sister a blanket and prevailed upon the nurses to take her vitals again as the time slipped by. No one could tell us when she would be seen. While I watched my show, the waiting room filled up again, with a lot of bandaged-up people. Out of the corner of my eye, I could tell they were home-repair jobs. Sister was able to keep tabs on the action. She got the all clear to leave at about 4PM. All things considered, a walk in the park.

Not a novice

I am practically a waiting professional. One of my first dates culminated in a visit to the ER – not my fault – she just got sick. I overheard someone in the next room saying, “Waddaya mean, ‘Fireballs of the Eucharist?’” to the doc who came in to chat.

I’ve waited in hospital waiting rooms for days on end at times, and that’s just hospitals. There are the usual husbandly waiting times at doctors’ offices, shopping malls and stores in which I do not care to go.

Types of waiting

Inactive waiting is the kind where it does not matter if you lose consciousness. This usually takes place in the parked car at the store or in a comfy chair, when you can find one, at the mall. For active waiting, you have to be alert. Waiting for your subway stop for example, especially on the first trip to somewhere you’ve never been.

Waiting for Mike

Mike, my older brother, used to be at the now-defunct mental institution on Staten Island, NY, Willowbrook State School, where waiting was a little tense and sad, seeing all those families with kids who could not fend for themselves. Michael is autistic, low functioning and nonverbal. My parents and my little brother and I used to drive there in the family car.

After Willowbrook was closed down, Mike was placed in a group home. I used to take the subway there to visit, and take pictures. Sometimes the subway ride there was longer than the visit. Mike wasn’t always visit-able. On those days, I would wait around the common area, talk to some of the other residents, and leave. The ride home was somehow shorter than the trip in.

How long is enough

Lots of people just pop into the hospital to visit a loved one, and pop back out again, or talk among themselves, forgetting that there is a person in the bed, and frequently over staying their welcome. Others can be there for hours on end, without saying a word and have the most intimate of connections. It is difficult sometimes for some visitors to leave and for some patients to allow their visitor to go.

The hardest part of waiting is the uncertainty. With my brother, everything is uncertain.

3 thoughts on “Waiting

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