Waiting in Line

It’s 2014. Happy New Year!

During the New Year celebration in New York City, a million or more people flocked in Times Square to watch the fancy ball drop and ring in the new year. It was reported that many people began waiting and standing in the streets in TImes Square starting around noontime, to get a good location to see the ball drop, the fireworks, and the rest of the show. That’s about 12 hours of waiting and standing in the cold! Was it worth it?

In our recent trip to a theme park, it was so crowded as it was the holiday season. It was jam packed that we could hardly walk anywhere without pushing, shoving, or trampling somebody. It could rival a walk in Divisoria. And the lines to the attractions were ridiculously long that can push the limit of patience in any human being.

The only consolation in these long lines was that they post how long was the wait time – like 45 minutes, or 120 minutes, or gazillion minutes (!) – to the ride or show, so that you have some idea of how long your agony would be. They should post the wait time in the restrooms as well, as there were long lines there too!  How could this be the “happiest place on earth?”

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In one popular ride of the park, our resolve was tested when we stood in line for it. We tried to get a *fast pass, but the time it gave us to return was close to midnight! We may not even stay in the park by then, so we took our chances and waited in line. And we waited. And waited.

The line was long and winding. On top of this, a long portion of the wait, we were cramped in a dark, enclosed place, with hardly any “personal” space. If the theme of that particular attraction was going to outer space, they were succesful in mimicking that environment, as I felt there was not enough atmospheric oxygen for me to breathe. Perhaps more people got dizzy and light-headed while waiting in line than in the ride itself.

After standing in line for more than 2 hours, we finally got to experience the “thrilling” ride. All the 2 minutes of it. Yes, you read it right. A measly 2 minutes! Was it worth it?

Our real life experiences though involves the humdrum of waiting in line. We stand in line for the bus or the train to take us places we want to go. We wait in line when we apply for a certificate, or a license or even for a job, so we can do things we want to do. We stand in line in stores or groceries so we can get things we like or need. In almost anything we do we wait in line.

In truth we have even mastered the art and science of waiting in line. When you line for the check out counter, do you count how many people are lined up in the different lanes, or better yet even count how many items each person have in their grocery cart in front of you, to make sure you line up in the shortest and fastest lane? Guilty, huh?

Then, there are people who wait in line for their destiny to come. Like princes and princesses, waiting for their moment of prominence.

Prince Charles is standing in line, to be the next monarch for more than 60 years! And that is if his mother, the current queen, will not outlive him. Some even feel that he should give way the throne to his son, Prince William, who is younger and more popular. But that is a different issue in itself.

What I am trying to say is this: in this life we wait for something grand to happen. Most of the time the wait is long, and the exciting event can be fleeting and short. Was it even worth it?

I don’t know what you are standing in line for. Maybe for that dream job. Or for your special someone. Or for that memorable occasion. Or that fateful event. Or your appointment with destiny.

I hope that this new year will bring in that event you are waiting for. And if not, just be patient. For I believe we are all destined for greatness. And it is worth the wait.

*****

(*Fast pass ticket allows a guest to avoid the long line by giving them a pre-set time to return to the particular attraction.)

(** photo taken with iPhone)

On Being a Patient

I opened my eyes as I slowly regained consciousness. I looked around and I was alone in some kind of cubicle where the curtains were drawn close. I was lying in a stretcher with nothing on but a flimsy hospital gown. I felt cold and naked. Wrapped around my left arm was a blood pressure cuff, and attached to my chest were leads of a heart monitor. In the back of my right hand was a small catheter inserted through my skin, while intravenous fluids infusing slowly through my veins.

My mind was still foggy like I was dreaming. I felt like floating and detached, and yet I was so calm. Is this out-of-body experience? It must be the sedatives I received.

Moments later the nurse entered through the curtains and smilingly told me that everything went smoothly. Not too long after, the doctor came in and said everything turned out to be alright.

Before you think that there was something bad or serious that happened to me, it was not that. I just had my screening colonoscopy done. Nothing more.

Colonoscopy is a recommended procedure for all people above 50 years of age, to screen for colon and rectal cancer. It is through this test that small polyps in the colon, which can be pre-cancerous or early cancerous lesions, can be detected and removed. And though I am still a few years from fifty, yet with my strong family history, as my mother was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, my good friend who is a gastroenterologist, recommended that I have the procedure done early according to the American Cancer Society’s Guideline. That was more than two years ago that I was told that, but I dragged my feet to have it done. Doctors can be the worst patient you know.

When I had my annual physical exam few months ago, my personal physician also recommended that I undergo colonoscopy. Now I cannot escape the doctor’s orders. So I finally gave in. Doctors like to give orders, but not necessarily like to follow their own advice or follow the orders they were given.

So there I was lying in the recovery room, still dazed from the sedatives I received during the procedure. As the doctor approached the stretcher where I was, it dawned on me that there was a big reversal of role. I was not the doctor in control. This time I was the patient.

The doctor came in, who was nicely dressed with his white coat on, while I was butt-naked with nothing on but a hospital gown. He towered over my bed confidently like the man in-charge, while I laid there feeling groggy and helpless. Not knowing what just happened as I was just coming out of sedation, I felt so vulnerable and invaded. If having a scope shoved down in you-know-where would not give you a feeling of invasion, I don’t know what will. And lastly, when my doctor came in to give me the news whether it be good or bad, he knew something that I don’t, and yet it concerns me, my health, my life.

So this is how a patient feels. Exposed and powerless. No option but to submit, for resistance is futile. Entrusting your life to the hands of somebody. Somebody you barely know, except for his name. Somebody that you can just hope, will take good care of you.

I am glad that I experienced being a patient, for it gave me a different kind of perspective. A point of view that I have never seen before. Though I don’t look forward of having my colonoscopy done again in about 5-10 years as what was recommended. But I admit the floating, detached, and calm feeling from the medication was some kind of “high.”

The next time I stand over patients’ bed while they lay there defenseless, with my white coat on while they are almost naked, and with facts that I know while they don’t know and yet it concerns their life – I will certainly hold it with such high esteem and with utmost reverence, that trust that was given to me.

Being patient is a virtue. In my case, being “a patient” made me virtuous.

Doctor’s Prayer