Sometimes I wonder if sharing our conception stories with others in such a public venue is a good idea. Then I get emails like this (shared with permission from the author):
I have been enjoying checking out your blog. I too found your story inspiring and it came just at the right time. I’ve been trying to get pregnant for the last five months using a known donor and at home artificial insemination. No luck so far, and I know it’s very early, but this is the first month I’ve really felt this discouraged. I’ve had moments here and there but this one has been really tough. My partner is great and supportive but it’s awfully nice to hear other people’s stories who have gone through the same thing.
One post I really “got” was the very old one about a doctor visit you went to together and had such a difficult, emotional time with. I decided to start talking to a doctor a few weeks ago about possibly starting some blood work just to make sure things are ok. The first doc I saw was great, but she went on maternity leave Monday, argh! So I saw her replacement yesterday. Wow. He should’ve had my whole story, it is all in my chart. He started off the conversation asking (totally reasonable) if I’d ever been pregnant before, and then acting very concerned when the answer was no.
He went on to tell me that Clomid is usually a last resort and that there’s a big risk of having sextuplets. Then he said he guessed he could refer me to a fertility specialist and that I could try IVF. (Whoa. What about IUI? Or how about a little basic diagnostic testing?) He actually asked me if the donor just comes over to my house and we have sex. And when I told him we do artificial insemination, and explained what that meant exactly (SO AWKWARD) he snickered and asked what the success rate is for that method. So basically, it confirmed all of my fears and negative thoughts about doctors in general, and reminded me why I avoid them at all costs. Left me in tears and feeling completely alone and lost. So I was very relieved and comforted to read that I in fact am not alone, even though it feels like it around here sometimes. Just wanted to let you know.
This email made me feel so many emotions – anger, frustration, disgust. Similar to how I felt last year when speaking to a nurse practitioner about my son. Though thankfully I have found that the vast majority of doctors and nurses we encounter are amazing and awesome and professional, there are obviously exceptions to the rule. So for this year’s Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day, I am writing an open letter to medical professionals.
An Open Letter to Medical Professionals from a Lesbian Mom
Dear Medical Professional:
It’s not east for LGBTQ folks to seek medical care – especially for the first time with a new doctor or practice. Past negative personal experiences, though rare, have made me wary. Such as times I have been asked probing questions that insinuated I am not capable of providing medical information about my children because I am not their biological parent. Or visits to the doctor that ended with a technician explaining to me that “gay marriage” will never happen in America, conveniently ignoring that it is already legal in Massachusetts, and I am, in fact, married.
When you question the validity of my relationship to my spouse and/or children, it is not okay. It’s actually unacceptable. Your job is to provide patient care, not an opinion about gay marriage or your personal feelings about my family’s structure.
When you snicker at an LGBTQ person under your care, it is demeaning. Dehumanizing. And quite frankly, it’s unethical.
According to the AMA’s Code of Ethics:
The patient has the right to courtesy, respect, dignity, responsiveness, and timely attention to his or her needs.
Given that on average, most students in medical school receive about five hours of training about LGBTQ health care, it doesn’t surprise me that many medical professionals might not know everything that affects or concerns the LGBTQ community; but that is no excuse for a lack of courtesy, respect, or dignity.
Because at the end of the day, that’s all we are asking for – not any special treatment – just the same courtesy, respect, and dignity you would show to any other person.
A Lesbian Mom
Resources for Medical Professionals
- Gay & Lesbian Medical Association: Clinical Guidelines for Care of LGBT Patients
- Improving the Health Care of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People: Understanding and Eliminating Health Disparities
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: About LGBT Health
- American Medical Association: Resources and Literature for Clinicians on LGBT Health Topics
Resources for LGBTQ Patients
- HRC’s 2014 Healthcare Equality Index
- Find a GLBT-friendly Medical Provider
- Top 10 Issues to Discuss with Your Health Care Provider
- National Coalition for LGBT Health
For more great reads, check out the Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day 2015: Master List of Posts