I live in a weird city with weird people. I also live in the ‘hood, which is an ethnically diverse mix of undesirables and makes it even more interesting. It’s not the South Side of Chicago by any means. The Southwestern U.S. was largely developed in the latter-half of the 20th century, so imagine rows of mid century, rundown strip malls filled with liquor stores, pupuserías, laundromats, payday loan shops, and taquerías jammed between big box stores and junkies roaming around every parking lot trying to hustle a buck off you. Due to my low vision, lack of rides, and the sun setting later, I’m stuck attempting to drive during the day, which has forced me to access the medical care in this stellar part of town whenever possible.
I have needed an X-ray of my spine since I got sick 12 years ago, as I have a bizarre vertebra jutting out to the right in my lower cervical spine and mild scoliosis in my thoracic region, combined with unrelenting back pain from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). I finally got my new PM&R doctor to refer me to an imaging center and I found one within a mile of where I stay. It is also the only place that takes appointments, so I wouldn’t have to sit for 3 hours, which really hurts. I called and asked for the latest appointment, which was at 4 pm and the receptionist told me the X-rays would be taken at 4:30 pm—typical of how imaging centers work so that everything runs on schedule.
As I have difficulty filling out forms due to my vision, I picked them up a week prior so I could take my time and fill them out in the best light. It took me about 1 hour to find the place as I can’t read building numbers or the signs that say what is in the buildings. Just trying to drive is enough of a nightmare. After numerous attempts and driving in circles, I eventually went into the right building and found the center, but it was closed. I tried another day and finally got the forms. It’s part of life with keratoconus, so I didn’t make a big deal about it, although my low vision made me rather depressed that day.
This Friday, I had my appointment for the spinal X-ray. I was running almost-on-time, but got there 1 minute late and had all the forms filled out already. I gave the front desk woman the forms, with a brief explanation as to why I already had them, handed over the necessary cards, and was told I was after Barbie Big Boobs—a typical look in the ‘hood due to all the strippers and hookers—I mean escorts, and that it would just be 15 minutes or so. Wonderful! I didn’t have to wait 3 hours like I do at the eye doctor or would be doing at the walk-in imaging center across the street.
I wasn’t feeling well as I’d pulled several muscles that go from my ear down to my shoulder joint in my sleep (again) and my whole body aches chronically in general. It’s all a typical day with EDS. I just wanted to get the X-rays over with as I had to get my brake light fixed and then go to the pharmacy and blow more cash (again). I also hadn’t slept much due to the steroids I’m on (again), which doesn’t help anyone out. Yet, I complained to no one and had my smiley face on while I took my seat.
There was a woman in the waiting room I’ll call Misty, a creative, white-girl name like her real one, who was blabbing with her friend on her cell phone in a very loud and annoying voice and using words that were definitely not appropriate in a small, public place. I could sort of make out her face and she looked like the dog above. As a disclaimer, if your name is Misty, don’t take offense. I know a woman named Tiffani—that is an i at the end—who is nothing like her name.
Suddenly, Misty got off her cell and began to yell at the front desk woman from her seat. It appeared her complaint was that she had an appointment on Sunday for an MRI, but they had called to let her know there was an opening on Friday if she would like to reschedule. Obviously she rescheduled, as she was sitting a few seats to my right. She went on and on about how she was told her appointment was at 4 pm, not 4:30 pm. She told the front desk woman to, “tell the guy in the back to hurry up,” which the front desk woman stated she couldn’t do. She also added that the MRI of her back would take 2 hours and she couldn’t be there all day. That’s amazing as I’ve had an MRI of my back done in 30 minutes or so.
She demanded to know who had told her to come in at 4 pm as she had stuff to do. The woman calmly told her it was someone in scheduling. Misty demanded she give her the phone number and she whipped out her cell phone again. She seemed to think her cell phone was akin to a Glock 9.
Someone must have answered in scheduling and Misty said she wanted the supervisor. She abruptly had a calm, quasi-professional voice, aside from her confusion of past participles as she stated, “I wouldn’t have drove all the way over here to wait 30 minutes.” It’s driven, Misty, driven! She went on and on again about her predicament and was so infuriated that her appointment was really at 4:30 pm. She told the supervisor how the front desk woman would do nothing and wouldn’t even go to the back and tell the imaging guy to hurry up, despite her asking. She had a fondness for ending every sentence with, “You know what I’m saying?” and there were a lot of uh-huhs on Misty’s part as the supervisor must have been trying to appease her. She just felt so special that someone was listening to her sob story. Did it ever occur to her that she would be waiting 30 minutes on Sunday, as well, if she hadn’t rescheduled?
Now, I am one who often jumps into weird situations in this weird city in a “What Would You Do?” scenario, but I just decided to sit there with my finger in my ear in attempts to block out Misty’s ranting and hope the tech would soon be done with Barbie Big Boobs, who was also there for a spinal X-ray, presumably due to her Super Size implants causing an achy back or possibly her 6″ stripper boots throwing her off balance. Poor thing.
I couldn’t help but take stock of my situation at that moment. How many hours of frustration did it take for me to get and fill out the forms due to my low vision? While sitting in the waiting room, I wasn’t able to see the TV or read a magazine or do much of anything. I still had a racing heart from driving there in daylight and pulling a U-turn on a major thoroughfare and praying there weren’t any oncoming cars that I couldn’t see. I kept rubbing deep into the knots in my neck and shoulders and wishing that for once in 12 years the pain would stop. I was worried about what else the X-rays might reveal, as I already have 2 troublesome spinal issues. I spent over $13,000 USD on medical bills last year. I live in a motel due to being broke, on disability, and other factors. Unlike Misty, I have no friends to call on my cell phone, which is actually good as I don’t have many minutes. It’s not a smarty-pants phone and I don’t pretend it’s a Glock 9. I wasn’t complaining to anyone about anything. I just sat there in the distorted-looking room while forced to listen to Misty’s temper tantrum over nothing.
Finally, my name was called and I got changed and went into the X-ray room. I had to pose in bizarre and uncomfortable positions over and over and then lie on a hard table that hurt my whole body while the tech continued to manhandle my achy self in order to straighten me out while my barely 100 lb, skin-and-bones body tried to stay covered in an XXL gown, which was all they provided.
If your female body is half-exposed due to being underweight from a genetic disorder that takes away your ability to eat and digest food and the gown doesn’t stay on because you’re 1/3 the size of the average American male, then that’s your own fault I guess, but I didn’t complain and I just kept trying to cover myself up while making a joke about it. I am quite sure the imaging guy was disappointed he got stuck with short Olive Oyl after X-raying flirty Barbie Big Boobs with her head of platinum extensions and perky bustline. I could be legally blind and spot all that.
I was finally done after 20 minutes or so and as I headed out, I could see that Misty was gone, unless she gave up the corner seat to go have a slim n’ sassy Misty cigarette. Apparently, the important stuff she had to do really was top priority. I could only imagine what choice words she said on her way out. The front desk woman was now blabbing on her own cell phone—such professionals here, but I needed to make sure the report was going to my referring doctor. She looked up my name and said it would be sent—all while her friend was on hold. I told her I hoped she had a better day and was sorry she had to deal with Misty, which she appreciated, so I did my good deed for the day.
Here’s what I would love to know. What was so tragic about Misty’s life that she had to throw a barking, hissy fit over something so idiotic and ruin everyone’s day? Who doesn’t wait a minimum of 30 minutes for anything in the U.S.—especially when dealing with our healthcare system? What gives anyone the right to talk to an innocent party in such a demeaning way and disturb an entire waiting room due to their need for attention? This is not appropriate behavior and makes it harder for cordial patients, like me, to get treated with respect when I finally do find functional healthcare. There are standards that are followed in any medical center and this issue didn’t warrant any complaints. Of course, there are times when it is necessary to take a firm stance to get things done, but this didn’t fit the bill and it’s not how a decent person takes care of business, regardless.
If the Mistys of the world really want something to complain about, they should walk in my shoes for a day. I can only wear flats due to EDS, which may make it a little easier, but I doubt they would last even 10 minutes. Bark, Misty, bark—it isn’t going to get you out of this one, either.