Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Random Cogitations...

Some thoughts that have been rattling around in my brain since yesterday’s experience…. I was impressed by the hospital staff’s acceptance of my relationship with Strong Heart.

I asked when I checked in, “Is it possible for my partner to come into the examining room with me? I’d like for her to be with me, if possible,” or words to that effect, making it clear that my partner was another woman. The receptionist didn’t blink, just told me I’d have to ask the technician.

So I did. And, again, a simple, “no, there really isn’t room,” was the only reaction.

And then, when the preliminary exam was done and the technician went off in search of the doctor, I asked if it were possible for someone to tell Strong Heart what was going on, or to bring her in so I could—I knew she’d be waiting to hear, out in the waiting room, and as it got to be twenty minutes, then half an hour, I didn’t want her to worry. And again, even though it was clear my partner was a woman, the response was professional and simple—if the doctor isn’t available right away, yes, we’ll let her know.

And the truth is, there really wasn’t room in there for anyone else. And while I was getting undressed/dressed/waiting, at least two other people were also told they couldn’t be with a patient. Both were mother-daughter pairs, and in one case, the (adult) daughter was actually the translator for her non-English-speaking mother. So it wasn’t just us by any means.

So why am I making such a big deal out of this?

Partly because it feels so good to be able to make such a request without a negative reaction, partly because it’s a sign of progress in River City (which tends to be conservative) and partly because it made me think.

Why am I so pleased at simple acceptance? Why do I feel so positively about simply being treated like everyone else?

Obviously, it’s partly because that hasn’t been the case for so many same-sex couples, even recently. And it’s especially poignant when medical issues are involved. When your health or your partner’s is threatened, you want both of you to be present at important moments, whether it’s tests or childbirth or treatment decisions.

But a part of me is annoyed and irritated that I even have to think about it; and that I am, in fact, so pleased at being treated like everyone else.

Why should I even have to think about these things? Why should it be doubtful whether the person who is closest to me, who knows more about what I want and need than anyone (except perhaps my son and my mother), is permitted to be with me when I need her?

I don’t really have answers to these questions…just thinking them over and putting them out there.


Songbird said...

I'm glad for the response you received. I hope that time will be the door-opener to a new understanding of relationships that are not defined by old-fashioned standards.

rev maria said...

I am also pleased and encouraged by your experience. It's not that long ago that I had to watch as the beloved partner of a dying man was refused permission to have any say in his partner's treatment. Yes, the patient's parents asked for and respected his opinions, but ultimately they were the only ones the medical staff would listen to.

LutheranChik said...

I had the same positive experience at my rural hospital when I wound up in the ER after a household accident. The staff didn't bat an eye when FT identified herself as my partner.

I remember the nanosecond of hesitation the first time I had to update my medical information, before I put "Partner" instead of "Friend" next to Fellow Traveler's name. But -- there comes a point when it becomes just too tiring to play "Let's pretend" in situations like this.

jadedjabber said...

This is a very uplifting experience. I am often afraid to even put myself in that position to find out whether or not the response will be favorable or not. Brava for your courage.

Rainbow Pastor said...

Well, JJ, I don't know about courage, really. Here in the Far North (AKA Canada), legally they cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Of course, that doesn't mean that staff couldn't be rude if they wanted to--but I can deal with rudeness better than I can with discrimination. So I'm not sure it took much courage.

Not to mention that my picture had been featured in the local paper recently, part of an article on a grant the church received...I'm not terribly low-profile here in River City, and I'm often stopped on the street by people who recognise me. So it's possible that played into it as well.

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