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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Silence is desired but TV distracts

I hate waiting rooms.

Let’s be honest, it’s mostly because of the waiting.

I lack patience and have control issues. To be sitting there biding my time until it’s my turn isn’t the easiest thing to do.

But, there’s another reason waiting rooms have zero appeal.

It’s because, when I’m in them, I always seem to be waiting for bad news.

And, lately, the bad news has been expensive medical treatments.

When you think about it, those words just belong together — all medical treatments are expensive.

Whether it’s an office visit or prescriptions or tests, it all adds up to a big bill you can’t afford.

If you’re like me, the thought of those three things leading to a BIG step is panic-inducing.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about it this week, as I sat in waiting rooms at Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights while my husband was being treated for a heart problem.

He’s OK — he received his second stent in 14 months after suffering chest tightness and jaw pain.

While I was there, thinking about how much I hate to be sitting there thinking, I noticed all the things I really dislike about waiting rooms.

The first thing I spotted was the pile of magazines.

The titles weren’t bad — Good Housekeeping, Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens.

But the dates left something to be desired. None were from the past six months.

Sure, they were better than some of the doctor’s offices I’ve been to over the years that displayed magazines from years ago. But, for all the money this Cleveland Clinic hospital is bringing in, I’d expect a little more currency.

As bad as I felt reading material was, something else in the room had more of my negative attention.

The television blaring in the corner of the room was hard to miss, with its discussion of President Barack Obama walking out of the debt-reduction talks in Washington the night before.

That actually was a lot better content than I’ve seen in those situations in the past. Countless times in waiting rooms, it’s been the screaming of the Jerry Springer or Montel Williams shows.

Then there was the morning my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer, when I was subjected to the idiocy of Maury Povich. As the others in the waiting room giggled and hooted with laughter, I sat silently, reeling from the knowledge that my dad was seriously ill.

The night of my husband’s surgery, as I walked to the parking garage on Hillcrest’s property, I passed a long bank of windows. Inside, a man sat alone, reading a magazine in front of a sign that read "Surgical waiting room."

I felt for him, waiting there for news of a loved one all by himself. Then I noticed the television in the next row of seats, showing a sitcom.

His back was turned to it, as if to say he wished it wasn’t there.

And so do I.

I’ll never understand this phenomenon. I know people need to be entertained and that we have short attention spans.

But why force us to sit, at what could be the scariest moments of our lives, in a room with a television showing what from my experience has been silliness or offensive content.

A little silence isn’t such a bad thing.

Trust me, hospitals of America, we’d use the time productively.

The ability to concentrate would go a long way to letting us get some praying done.

Twitter: @Lauranh


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