Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Back Waiting Room

The back waiting room is where they send you if you're already in but you have to wait some more for something. There seemed to be among those who drifted in and out of there a sense of bonhomie, of kinship borne of shared travails, or maybe it was just that one woman who was too chatty and everyone else had to be a little bit like her so they wouldn't hurt her feelings. I kept my own bandaged head down for the most part, reading the darkest corners of today's Metro Section. The chatty woman was a bitch. She'd made a big deal at the front desk about how she had patients of her own and by X time she had to be out of there. I have a patient I absolutely, absolutely must see.

Every ten minutes or so one of the assistants would come in and tell one of the patients that there was more skin to cut, it's not all out yet, or, it's all out, we're going to stitch you up. Some effort went into not making this sound too cheery or too dire, depending. Chatty lady must have left while I was on the table.

On the table there's a bright, bright light you have to close your eyes. Pinpricks of anaesthetic, vulcanizing my forehead into a strange mask of second skin. And the surgeon comes in and in a whiff of burnt skin she's done and she's out the door again. Five seconds, maybe, or ten. And the assistant says go back to the waiting room.

The back waiting room.

And we'd wait to be summoned again, or else to be excused.

But eventually, everyone was done.