The ‘Waiting Room’ Experience

I’m sitting here in the eye exam waiting room, at one of the larger local clinics. Two ophthalmologists are on duty, plus 5-6 supplementary staff, to service what looks like over 85 patients whose average age is probably about 65. Everyone is white, and probably of European stock.

It is a 3-step process, including reading a chart and getting 3 distinct eye drops, then having pictures taken, then seeing the specialist for the final results. This process could top out at over 2-3 hours (I’ve been here before for my macular degeneration), so bringing a lunch, iPhone or a good book is propitious.

The long and rancorous strike here has been over for a few months, and staff are quite courteous. It’s an early Monday morning. Some staff have been here over 26 years, now making $1.00 over minimum wage.

An overhead TV is provided in the now full waiting room, showing one station all day. Magazines occupy end tables, and a large fish tank provides another form of entertainment. Most people don’t talk, but the occasional chatter and laughter between couples or friends breaks the uncomfortable silence.

I have to see if my macular degeneration has worsened past the 4/10 stage. Mine is so far, of the ‘dry type’, a less serious variation from the ‘wet type’. If it reaches that level of central vision loss, needle injections once a month then becomes the norm.

My aunt went legally blind by 80, and I’m only 6 years off. I’ve been wearing prescription glasses since soon after leaving the Air Force in 1965. Both my daughters, in their early 40s, don’t need glasses. Their mother doesn’t either.

I have been diagnosed just now with slow growing cataracts but my macular is about the same. I don’t have to see him again until next February but he recommends a revisit to my optometrist to check my glasses again.

Finally, in order to get out of the parking lot lineup one must have two loonies, or a toonie, or a debit card to tap. And there is no longer an ATM available inside the clinic.

A 3-hour experience for a 15 min appointment. Why. (My next blog)

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