Adult woman in exam room on the left, adult man sitting in the waiting room on the right. Arrows point indicating a role reversal.

Role Reversal

Last updated: January 2022

Mrs. had her mammogram this week. Thankfully all is well and she is in fine health. For me, it was a bit more of an eye-opener and a chance to be "the supporter" where I have normally been "the supported."

Never an imposition

I knew the test was coming up and asked if she wanted me to take off work to go with her. "No, I can go. I will be fine."

That is wife-speak for, "I am scared to death but I do not want to worry you or be an imposition."

I asked a couple more times but she assured me she was okay. I kissed her and left for work the day of her test knowing she was struggling. At 9 in the morning, I called to check on her and I could hear in her voice she was wavering. I offered to come home and go with her. Her response was, "Will you get in trouble with work?"

Answering the call

That was it. I knew where I should be. She had never let me sit in a waiting room alone. I called my dispatcher and my plant operator and explained that I was taking the truck back to the yard and going with Mrs. Both were gracious and off I went.

Sitting in the waiting room was more emotional than I could have imagined. I had sat in them before but it had been a long time. I had forgotten how slow times ticks when you are the one waiting. The patients have their own hurdles, but by and large, they are kept busy with nurses and doctors and tests and such.

Living through the role reversal

Caregivers sit and stare at the wall and try not to let their imagination get the best of them. I failed. I was picturing all manner of outcomes and none of them were good. I read the same page of my book over and over, I played the same level of the same game on my phone, over and over.

Mrs. was only in the back for a little while I think, but it seemed like forever. When she came out smiling and gave me a thumbs up I nearly erupted in tears.

For years, I had walked out of exam rooms and smiled at her and told her I was fine. She always smiled through tears and hugged me.

Now I was the one tearing up and hugging her. Given the choice of patient or loved one, I choose patient every time. So to those of you who sit semi-patiently and wait for our results, I salute you.

I salute you

For every loved one who sits in the waiting room and prays or cries or hopes, I salute you. You are brave beyond measure and wonderful beyond accolade.

Mrs has sat in these rooms for me more times than I can count. Illness, injury, car or truck or motorcycle accidents. Close calls from firefighting days. Yes, she has sat in many waiting rooms, and knowing she will be there whenever I emerge is a blessing.

That said, I will endeavor to make sure she never comes out to an empty waiting room. I may be a basket case but I will be there. Tell us about your experience in the comments below, or share your story with the community.

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