I am doing ok, but I have to work at it... really hard.
After 6 months of deliberation, I finally decided that I would try talking to the psychologist at the hospital who works with cancer patients. Several of my friends meet with him and have found their discussions to be helpful.
So, I figured, maybe he would have some insight or approach that I have not thought of on my own. Also, maybe I would get a better perspective about whether my feelings are "normal." I hoped to get some "objective" feedback about whether or not I am coping as well as I think.
This past Thursday, when I checked into the oncology ward, I made an appointment for 11:30 with the pyschologist.
Then I did my stuff... blood tests, meeting with my oncologist, getting my shot, etc. I even got a short massage.
Then I went to meet with the psychologist. His door was closed and the substitute secretary told me to sit and wait. So, I sat and waited....and waited....and waited....
I asked if I should knock on the door and was told not to knock. I asked them to call him, but he did not answer the phone.
So, I waited....and waited....and waited.....
After two hours (without exaggeration), I saw a friend approach the door and knock. I asked her why she knocked and she said she always knocks, adding "how else would he know I am here?" The psychologist popped his head out and told her he would be another minute.
Sure enough, less than five minutes later, he emerged from his office.
I took the opportunity to ask him if he was aware that I had been waiting for him for two hours.
I was very careful about how I phrased the question and that my tone reflected that I was just looking for "verification," lest he feel I was criticizing him (which I was not). Since we did not have a relationship yet, I wanted to be sure we did not start out on the wrong foot.
Well, I was in for a surprise.
"Did you make the appointment with me?" He asked me, not at all concerned that his tone was aggressive.
"No," I answered innocently, "I made the appointment this morning with the secretary."
"Well then for me you do not exist," he answered curtly.
More than a little shocked, I explained that I made the appointment with the secretaries and they told me not to knock and just to wait.
"This does not concern me," He responded, "it's like you are telling me that your car stalled. It has nothing to do with me."
I could not believe how insensitive he was. I had sat there for two hours, waiting for him. I gathered, from his responses, that I had not followed the correct procedure for making an appointment. I did not know. I was not angry about the mishap. Mistakes happen. I had my coffee-and-chemo-date with me (triLcat) and I enjoyed talking with her while we were waiting. I never plan anything on chemo days, so I was not upset about the delay. I am very patient at the hospital. I did not even complain to the secretaries about the wait (though I did remind them that I was still waiting, after an hour and a half, and then, again, after two hours).
When I approached the psychologist, I just wanted to confirm that he knew I was there for him.
I also expected some acknowledgement of my having waited so long.
I expected empathy.
Would it have been so unreasonable for him to say, "I'm sorry for the inconvenience, here's what you need to do to make an appointment, please leave me your number and I will get back to you."
Instead, I felt berated for wasting his time by talking to him. As he ushered his patient into his office, noting that they were already behind schedule, he turned to me and told me how to make an appointment, "should I still wish to talk with him."
If this was a cursing blog, I would insert all sorts of profanities here.
No, I did not still wish to talk with him.
I was outraged. Though that was not my dominant feeling at that time.
After he was done blowing me off, I just wanted to cry.
I am glad someone was with me, to witness the interaction. I needed a reality check: Was this guy's reaction reasonable? Did I do something to antagonize this guy? Am I overreracting?
My friend reassured me that it was not my imagination, and that the psychologist had been excessively rude, with no provocation.
Even now, writing about it, I want to cry.
How can someone treat another person like that? Especially a cancer patient?
I am not there for fun!
How can a psychologist be so incredibly insensitive?
That is one door that I will not be knocking on anytime in the near future....
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,