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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Family Member

Beloved.

Beloved, who has "never been sick a day in her life," as the old saying goes, has been dealing with an issue that required intervention, and so this morning we went off to the Big Hospital -- the one where I have so much experience -- kidney stones, gallstones, pancreatitis, and life-threatening infections -- for her first experience, at well over fifty, with, among other things, anaesthesia.

I found dealing with the place unnerving -- again. They have crucifixes everywhere, which means, at least to their upper management, that people like me should not exist, and will not be "heir to eternal life," or words to that effect. So when I went to pick up my "family member" pager, I was understandably a bit tense as the clipboard-wielder got to the parts about relationship.

"Spouse."

"Okay, and the patient's name is?"

I told her.

"Oh. Partner." And she started erasing "spouse."

It was nice that I wasn't being tossed for being a partner, something these hospitals have been known to do, but I felt like pursuing the matter.

Yes, all committed LGBT people should have civil rights like everyone else, and don't, but this was, technically, a legal right already in my possession. I could feel the curiosity of the family-member-of-a-patient next in line right behind me, and was in the mood to be informative.

"No, actually, that's spouse. I had full sexual reassignment surgery this year. She stayed with me."

"Oh! Oh." She reddened a bit, then erased "partner" and put "spouse."

I felt I should make a conciliatory gesture at this point, and added, "And we have three beautiful granddaughters."

This seemed to be the right thing to say.

As she handed me my pager, she smiled. "I have two grandsons -- and a granddaughter on the way. We're so excited."

"You're going to love it. Boys are great, but granddaughters are where the action is." I turned away, smiled to the bemused onlooker, and clicked off down the passageway on my smart new heels.

They only spent half an hour on Beloved, so there had been no need for a pager. As soon as I was settled back into the waiting room at Short Stay, the highlight behind her status on the monitors went from pink to orange, meaning Family Members OK.

And Family Member went in to see the woozy patient, and took her hand and held it.

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