Waiting room musings at the dentist

Waiting room musings at the dentist

When I waited between having my teeth cleaned and checked, I noticed a young family in the waiting room. The father was very tense, and we all were told that he was very afraid to see the dentist, and that he was here because his wife had insisted. 

He then was asked to go to an examination room, and his wife told us she was afraid that he wouldn’t tell her if some real dental work had to be done.

“Then ask the receptionist about it”, said one of the waiting patients.

I kept my mouth shut, but I thought asking the receptionist was taking things a little bit too far, that she should talk to her husband. The wife said she wouldn’t do so.

I don’t know what happened next. Sometimes it’s a fine line between supporting and patronizing someone, especially in marriage.

Suffering from panic attacks myself, I really feel sorry for the young man, but we are responsible for ourselves as well.

I hope things had a happy ending for them in one way or the other ☺.

Waiting room musings, Part 2

Waiting room musings, Part 2

Many people were waiting at the admittance desk of the psychiatric institutional outpatients’ department. From behind, I heard a very loud female voice say: “CAN I REACH YOU VIA WHATSAPP, OR DO YOU PREFER A SIMPLE TEXT MESSAGE?” I felt this was not directed at me and thought: “Why does she have to talk so loud?!” Because if I, with my poor hearing, think somebody speaks loud, it has to be so.

Later, we all were sitting in the waiting room. Next to the lady with the loud voice sat a young woman, maybe in her mid-twenties. I noticed that said lady did not only speak to the young woman, she also was using sign language. A closer look revealed that the young woman did not wear any hearing aids or cochlea implants. So I came to the conclusion she must be completely deaf. But she did not answer the lady in sign language, she spoke to her. She had a pleasant voice, not to loud. Sometimes a few words came out slurred, but I could understand her very well. Because she didn’t use sign language,  and because of her good pronounciation, I came to the conclusion that she must have learned to speak when she was a child and lost her hearing later in life. The lady kept on talking to her in her loud voice, and I rolled my eyes: When your conversation partner is deaf, the volume of your voice doesn’t matter. An exact pronounciation is important, because it makes reading lips easier.

I really was impressed how good the young woman could speak, even without hearing anything. I wanted to tell her that, but how? I don’t know sign language, and I don’t know if I speak clearly enough that someone can read my lips. For the first time, I felt the barrier a normal hearing person has to overcome when it comes to communicating with hairing impaired or deaf people. So I decided to treat her like I would like to be treated, and tipped her carefully on the shoulder. She was so focussed on the lady next to her, I had no possibility to make eye contact.

Next problem: Do I speak directly to her, or to her companion, that translates for her? Once again, I acted like I was concerned. When sombody wants to communicate with me, he/she should speak directly to me, possible problems be damned. So I tried to speak “normally”, not to quickly and not to slowly: “Hello! I just wanted to tell you that your pronounciation is very good. I am wearing a hearing aid, and I am deaf on the other ear, so I know a little bit how difficult it is.”

Her eyes lit up, and I was so glad that I had gathered all my courage. All three of us talked for a while, the loud speaking lady was a volunteer who helped deaf people with doctor’s appointments and visits to the authorities. My guess had been correct, the young lady had heard well until puberty, than abruptly became deaf (I did not ask about the circumstances).

After I spoke to my doctor, I saw the young lady sitting in the waiting room – with a very short list of therapists that work with sign language in her hand. You have to wait for months before you can start talk therapy with a normal therapist, I don’t want to know how long you have to wait to speak with a therapist who is specialised in sign language.

This meeting, and the fact that I met many hearing impaired patients during my inpatient stays on the psychiatric ward, makes me wonder if poor hearing and deafness can contribute to mental illness. Living with a disability is always tiring, and hearing impaired and deaf persons are cut off from many social gatherings. And many normal hearing people just don’t know how to communicate with hearing impaired or deaf people.

I was “on the other side” for a short time, and it really opened my eyes. If even I, who has more than fourty years experience of living with poor hearing, feels unsure when it comes to communicating with a deaf person, how difficult must it be for a person without this knowledge. But it also shows: Communication is possible, when both sides are willing to give it a try.

See also
Waiting room musings, Part 1


Waiting room musings, Part 1

Waiting room musings, Part 1

If I would get paid for all the time I spend sitting in my doctors’ waiting rooms, I would not be rich, but well-off. But it is enough for another category in my blog.

Today I went to my husband’s general practitioner to get a presciption. The waiting room was full of people. Sadly, this is normal for all GP’s here. And not just in the winter, when colds and flu go about.

In my GP’s surgery, they stopped making appointments, because they have too many patients that come in unannounced and need treatment. Falling ill follows no schedule. I think it is better to be honest, and not to waste precious time with arranging worthless time slots.

I am very lucky to have found my GP. She is an internist and experienced in treating failing thyroids (I have Hahimoto’s Thyroiditis, my immune system destroys my thyroid), and diabetes (Type 2, in my case). If she is not sure, she does not hesitate to say so and refers me to a specialised colleague. She is aware of all my medication, and knows about possible interactions and side effects. The stuff working in the surgery is very friendly and competent, in spite of their workload.

And sometimes things go wrong. Last time, I wanted to boost my tetanus/diphteria vaccination. My GP told her assistant what to do, I got vaccinated, left, took a look at my vaccination certificate – and realized that I got a flu shot. The problem? I had already been given a flu shot a few weeks ago. When I arrived home, I immediatly called the doctor’s office. I was half angry, half scared because of possible side effects. The doctor appologized for the mistake and calmed me down: A double flu shot probably wouldn’t cause any problems.

She was right. If I wouldn’t have checked my vaccination certificate, I wouldn’t have noticed the error. But I would have assumed to be protected against tetanus, and this can be important in case of an injury. We all were lucky nothing really bad happened.

I do not blame my doctor’s assistant. In fact, I am very surprised things like this happen so rarely in german GP surgeries.

Especially here in rural Germany, the number of GP surgeries will go down in the next years. On the other hand, there will be more and more old people that need to be taken care of. And old people have to see a doctor more often than younger, healthier people. But the worst thing is, these facts are not new. They have been known for years, and still nothing is done about it.