The following true story is not tied to my dissertation project—well, at least not directly. But, I was craving sharing this story…and so this venue, about polyamory, seemed the perfect place to do it in.
A few nights ago, I looked down at my knee, and noticed the classic bulls-eye formation—an indication of a potential tick bite. I had just spent the evening in a dense woods, playing around looking for wild strawberries with my metamour, Cordelia. I had forgotten to use bugspray.
As I have come to understand the horrors of Lyme disease through dating a woman (my first ever poly-girlfriend, actually) who had Lyme acquired from getting a tick bite, I got a little worried. I asked my partner Andrew and also Cordelia to look carefully at my knee. Their faces rumpled into concerned frowns, as they put their faces right up to my knee. After a few minutes of contemplation, they insisted I go to the emergency room.
As we drove by the light of the full moon (no, I’m not using this description to make my story more dramatic—there really was a full moon that night), my heart began to pound. It wasn’t pounding from the fear that perhaps I’d just contracted some awful disease…but actually the pounding was due to suddenly thinking about how I wanted both Andrew and Cordelia (who might be in the process of becoming my girlfriend—but we’re not sure on that count yet) in the hospital room with me. I wanted both of them for support. I wanted them both.
As we checked in, the three of us took a seat in the waiting room. We cuddled, and they cooed reassuring words in my ear, each lover on each side of me. I felt so warm, so safe, despite the negative vibes of the sterile hospital around me. I looked into my metamour’s eyes and I said, “I want you with me. When they call my name, please come back with us.” She nodded. Then she unhooked the beautiful bejeweled necklace from her around her neck, and hooked it around mine, saying “This is to keep you safe,” kissing me on the forehead.
When the nurse called my name, the three of us marched through the double doors. I was holding my breath, and my heart, by this time, was pounding at a crazy speed. And my palms were sweating. I was just waiting for the nurse to say, “Not so fast…only immediate family is allowed back.”
But it never happened. Nobody said anything. Perhaps it was because the hospital that night, around midnight, was completely empty of emergencies (nobody else was in the waiting room), or perhaps the Wood County hospital is just that progressive (I’m not sure), but nobody questioned my having two people in the room with me as the doctor inspected my knee and pronounced that, thank goodness, my mark was not from a tick bite.
What I’m left with, after this experience, is the reflection upon just how nervous I got at the prospect of having to explain my polyamory to medical personnel. Why did I freak out so much about it? Why did I get so anxious? Why did I my heart beat so fast, why did my palms sweat? Why do I still fear judgment about my philosophy and practice of loving and living—even from strangers or people I will probably never see again and who probably won’t have much (or any) impact on my life? It’s very odd.
These questions are for me to answer. However, I suddenly have a bit more sympathy with the stress that LBGTQ folks talk about when they talk about dealing with medical institutions, hospitals in particular. It’s oddly strange when your mode/method of loving does not match up neatly to “normal” protocol. It’s oddly strange when your whole mode of being is denied or silenced by realms of tradition. It’s odd.