Not Angry But Grateful

Okay, so for a change, this blog is not fuelled by anger but by deep gratitude.

About 20 years ago, I had an investigative procedure at the Royal Free hospital. It was in the gynaecological department, at the time my parents were not friendly with Stella, and I needed all the emotional support I could get.

At the hospital, in this department, there was a definite sense of homophobia – a nurse, a receptionist, the Consultant who was to carry out the hugely painful, investigative procedure (with no anaesthetic), would not allow Stella to be with me. The Consultant was, in fact, very mean. Things were different then. While we were out about our relationship, I was still a little guarded in public, in hospitals, because I was scared I would be treated badly, differently. In this case, we were. We both remember it clearly. This is one case, this is my experience, I realise that there were other Drs who would have been different. But we have never forgotten this experience. Our experience.

Yesterday, I had the same procedure (I am fine), but had a biopsy as well, this time with an anaesthetic, all carried out at Kings, with a Consultant who could not have been more cheerful, lovely, chatty and just bloody nice! As was the clinic nurse. When I asked if my partner, Stella, could come in with me, she said, hello partner Stella, of course you can. From that moment on, we were treated just as everyone else is – or should be treated. We talked about my cold water swimming yesterday morning, the Consultant talked about her husband training for a triathlon at Brockwell Lido, we talked about Stella’s surgery, about blood tests, about cycling to work. We talked with no sense of discomfort, with no barriers; she was (bar our exceptional fertility Consultant) the most wonderful Consultant I have ever met. She gave us time, so much time. We talked marriage, how she wanted a civil partnership, how we can now marry. How we had a huge civil partnership party, how we would have a no frills wedding. She said perhaps when and if she can have a civil partnership they will do it the opposite way, have it big, have a party, because they had a no frills wedding. I chatted throughout the procedure, apart from a few painful moments when my heart raced fast – Stella told me later that my face became grey.

I must have thanked her 100 times, her and the lovely clinic nurse. I am grateful to the NHS (yet again), for the care provided, for the free health care provided, for being well when so many I know are not. I treasure my life and my good health. I am aware it could all change. But I am also grateful to all those men and women who fought so hard to make change possible and keep making change possible, who have made it okay for Stella and I to feel we belong in our own society, with no barriers, no bad feeling, being accepted for the women we are. While homophobia still exists, and women are told not to kiss or console one another in public, when people are beaten up because of their sexuality, I am grateful for the changes that are taking place. Because one change means more change is possible. Today I feel a deep sense of gratitude on so many levels. Today I will fly.

3 thoughts on “Not Angry But Grateful

  1. Thankfully the past 20 years have seen huge changes, ‘we’ are no longer an uncomfortable novelty. As a student nurse in late 70s I remember a general reluctance (by female nurses) to catheterise a woman who was a lesbian. To my everlasting shame I kept quiet, still frightened of my own sexuality, probably the last time I ever did not speak out, fortunately she was properly cared for, and I beat myself up. Thank you for your thoughtful, and optimistic piece!

  2. its so wonderful to be treated as a couple during the scary moments of intimate hospital visits. My wife (civil partner at the mo but soon to get the licence) and I have had nothing but fabulous support from my gynaecological oncologist. Leeds NHS Trust have excelled themselves in ensuring that all patients and family are treated inclusively. Without the support of my wife I know the last two years would have been impossible to deal with.

    We need to keep our NHS for all generations.

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