Thursday, October 9, 2014

Out-Patient Surgery: "I'm His Husband"

It was an intensely gratifying moment.

Mark had some outpatient surgery done yesterday. (He's fine.) Pretty standard, but he would be under general anesthetic for the procedure. His intake nurse at Intermountain Medical Center was going through a list of questions with him while I sat by his side. I had not introduced myself, and at one point she started referring to Mark's "family." She hadn't paid much attention to me until she asked Mark whether he had an advance directive. He said he did. She asked if he had brought a copy with him because there wasn't one in his chart. He hadn't.

That's when I piped up and said, "I have a copy in my car if you need it." (We had been advised that I should always have it with me, or at least easily accessible, just in case some hospital denied me rights.) The nurse looked at me somewhat quizzically. I took the leap and said, "I'm his husband." 

From that moment, everything changed. Her face brightened and she said, "Congratulations." (I wondered if she thought we had just been married after Monday's Supreme Court decision.) I smiled and replied, "Thank you. We were married in Hawaii, but as of Monday, our marriage is now legally recognized by the State of Utah." Once again, she said, "Congratulations!"

From that point forward, she included me in the conversation just as she would have done had I been Mark's wife. She asked my full name and wrote down my phone number. A warm glow spread inside of me, recognizing as I did that there would - thanks to Monday's Supreme Court decision - be no issues relating to me being with Mark, no question of who was next-of-kin. As of Monday, the State of Utah recognizes me as Mark's next-of-kin. We are now treated as a couple, as a family, not just two men who live together.

That feeling of gratification came again as the discharge nurse went through discharge instructions. During the whole interview, she never looked at me - until it came time to tell me some things that I, as spouse, needed to do and be aware of. Then, she handed the clipboard to me to sign as Mark's spouse, marking the first time that I have signed a document on behalf of my husband.

*The lead photo was taken from the patio outside the cafeteria of Intermountain Medical Center.