Waiting Rooms Can Mean More Than Just Waiting - OhBoyMom

Waiting Rooms Can Mean More Than Just Waiting

November 14, 2013 in Hospital Tales

Waiting rooms are the ultimate place for people-watching.

Little Dude and I have spent and continue to spend A LOT of time in hospital waiting rooms. He mostly has his head down, buried in my iPhone, playing one of his favorite apps. Sometimes I am similarly plugged in, looking down at my iPad, and passing the time on Facebook and Twitter, as well as reading blogs (of course!).

But, when I decide to look up (or let’s face it, if my iPad battery needs to be charged), I am drawn in by watching the people around us.

At the hospital where Little Dude is treated in New York, the patients waiting are children of all ages, along with their accompanying adult. We are at a Children’s Hospital so this makes sense. There is usually not much socializing at this hospital because everyone is waiting for their treatments, check-ups, or both, and we all just want to get out of there as quickly as possible. I do see many of the same faces, and frequently I exchange a polite smile with a mom or dad as we recognize each other.

When Little Dude was receiving treatment at Mass General in Boston, the waiting rooms were a completely different experience.

The oncology waiting room was usually empty or almost empty. This fascinated and puzzled me. Where was everybody? The only thing I had to watch was a large tank filled with beautiful tropical fish. I didn’t mind the quick wait and by quick I mean we were sitting there for maybe one minute. It almost made me want to continue Little Dude’s treatment up there for that reason alone. Apparently, the laws of supply and demand and models of medical care make a Boston hospital and a New York hospital very different experiences. In other words, New York needs to get a clue and learn from Boston.

The proton radiation waiting room at Mass General, although more crowded than oncology, was still efficient. There are only six hospitals in the entire country right now that offer this type of radiation. So yes, the waiting room could be filled, but it was usually related to a temporary malfunctioning machine rather than over-scheduling.

This waiting room was actually my favorite so far. And it had nothing to do with the usually tolerable waiting time. It had to do with the people, and not just the ones I observed, but also the ones I chatted with and got to know a little bit.

Although both children and adults are treated at the proton center, Little Dude always seemed to be scheduled at the same time as the older men waiting to have radiation on their prostates. How did I know this? Well, maybe the fact that they were all sitting there in their gowns was a hint, but I also knew that proton radiation on prostates can be a very effective and preferred way to go. And the other reason I knew? These men liked to chat! I found out all about one man’s prostate, although his thick Italian accent made it hard to catch a lot of details. That was probably a good thing. Another man’s wife shared part of his medical history with me as well and she was very sweet with Little Dude, even bringing him a present one day. So, we became buddies with some of our fellow wait-ers, and it was a true bonding experience.

The Ringing of The Bell

The bonding with fellow patients could also happen from a far. A distinguishing feature of the proton center waiting room was the “Good Luck Bell.” When a person finished all of their radiation treatments, which could generally last anywhere from 4-7 weeks, he or she would ring the “Good Luck Bell” three times. The staff as well as any family or friends, would gather around them as they rang the bell. Everyone would clap and cheer, including those of us in the waiting room watching this occur. I would tear up a bit, and always told Little Dude that his day to ring the bell would arrive before he knew it, which it did. I always felt a strong connection to whomever was ringing the bell, whether I had ever talked to him or not. We were all there for similar reasons, and I wanted to celebrate alongside them. We may have only crossed paths in a waiting room, but I am rooting for them all the way.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Dorothy November 14, 2013 at 9:07 am

I think of you and your family daily and appreciate the care, compassion and humor that shines through your posts. It sounds like your experience in Boston was what all patients and their supporters desire, efficient and focussed on the patient experience. So hopefully your NY hospital can learn a thing or two on how to improve their operations.
Happy to hear your son has successfully completed his treatments and wishing you all health and happiness.
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ohboymom November 14, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Thanks so much and I agree, that Boston is a model of medical care for all states to follow or at least MGH is…great hospital.

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Janine Huldie November 14, 2013 at 9:53 am

This truly made me smile this morning and just so happy that this part of Little Dude’s treatment is indeed behind him and am praying that the rest of it will be quick and he will be hopefully in remission very soon now.
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ohboymom November 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Thanks and yes, we are glad to have that phase of treatment behind us…he’s halfway to being finished with all treatments!

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don November 14, 2013 at 10:34 am

It’s funny how something so seemingly simple like a bell can be so powerful in a certain context. I bet those nurses get emotional every time they hear that bell as well.
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ohboymom November 14, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Yes, I can tell the nurses and staff get emotional…since the patients are there every day for weeks, the staff really gets to know who they’re treating.

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Julie Chenell DeNeen November 14, 2013 at 10:58 am

I love the bell. So simple but profound. Sending lots of healing thoughts and prayers for little dude and your family Emily.
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ohboymom November 14, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Thx Julie. I love the bell too.:)

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DIANE November 14, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Little Dude, although not lucky having such a diagnosis- certainly is lucky to be doing so well, have parents with such wonderful insight, and learning lessons today that will help him throughout the rest of his long and happy life. Nothing in life is easy, but with your love and support, perhaps he does not even know how rough it is. I am so happy to read of your strength and really admire you so much. xo

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ohboymom November 14, 2013 at 9:56 pm

This experience is making all of us stronger, especially Little Dude, who is the strongest of all. Thanks so much for reading, commenting, and supporting us! xo

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Kelly November 14, 2013 at 6:31 pm

The bell is an awesome idea! I don’t envy you for any waiting period in a hospital room but you sure do find the best things to bring us from the experiences! Little dude should get to bang a gong after all this:))

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ohboymom November 14, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Don’t worry Kelly, Little Dude has a LIST of things he wants after he’s all done with hospital treatments. #1 on the list is his very own iPhone, and #2 is a whole array of video games. I think he should go with the gong though! :)

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Kristi Campbell November 14, 2013 at 11:00 pm

The good luck bell made me sad, hopeful, proud and superstitious all at once. I knock on wood, every time that it is called for. Little dude rocks. You rock. I continue to send my strength, peace and prayers to you but it sounds like he’s kicking ass on his own (I’ll continue to send, anyway). Also, I bet those old dudes in the waiting room have some awesome stories! xo

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ohboymom November 15, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Oh yes, those old dudes were hilarious! I’m a superstitious person too, and although I left it out of this post, I was very specific with Little Dude that he HAD to ring the bell EXACTLY 3 times, no more, no less. Thankfully, he listened.:)

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Kathy at kissing the frog November 17, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Ah, the Bell. I remember the bell. Both Joey and I could not wait to ring that damn bell. Even his stuffed cat had to ring the bell.
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ohboymom November 18, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Aw, that’s sweet about his cat too. I talked about the bell-ringing for weeks so I think it ended up being a little anti-climatic for both of us…

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Cyndi November 18, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Waiting rooms – Anywhere, USA are always interesting, aren’t they? LOL.
It sounds like Little Dude is a trooper. So cool about the Good Luck Bell. Aww…thank you for sharing your experiences. And no, I wouldn’t have wanted to know about some Italian dude’s prostrate problems, either. lol
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ohboymom November 18, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Yes, waiting rooms are fascinating sometimes…I have another post about a waiting room encounter appearing tomorrow!

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Alexa January 10, 2014 at 10:21 am

I hate it that you are going through this. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Little Dude. Hugs.
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