In church history class, one of my professors called attention to this idea he called “sacred space”. When studying religion, we needed to consider the power of physical space, particularly when persons attributed special qualities in certain geographic locations. To be sure, we all called to mind steeples and temples, but he reminded us of war memorials, fountains, and our childhood homes. Walls not only create rooms, but they also have inherent meanings.
There’s something about the four walls of an exam room that not only create a private space but somehow shrink a patient down at least fifty percent and make me feel extremely vulnerable. I’ve tried every technique I can think of: (1) bring a friend with you to the appointment, (2) listen to music, (3) read a book, (4) grade papers, (5) plan crafts or projects, (6) write journal entries, (7) look at whatever is scattered in the exam room, (8) listen to all the crazy noises outside, (9) stare at all the posters on the wall and try not to be creeped out, and so forth.
Then, there’s a knock. The door opens. In comes the
wizard doctor with his white coat. Whatever I’m doing, I quickly put away. I try to be really still like Sara Crewe’s doll when the door opens. He says, “Hello. I’m the doctor. Tell me about yourself.”
How should I address the
king doctor? How do I avoid wasting his invaluable time? Which part does he want to know?
And it becomes so easy to forget that I’m the one seeking information. I’m the one in pain. I’m the one who has to live with the consequences of this meeting. I’m the one paying for it. That’s why he asks me to speak.