A gay couple's final journey

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    Dec 15, 2014 6:36 PM GMT
    I encourage you to share this amazing story of an older gay couple in my neighborhood, one facing terminal cancer and the other navigating the hurdles thrown at them by a lack of marriage equality.

    http://interactive.sun-sentinel.com/lgbt-dying-couple/

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    Dec 15, 2014 8:30 PM GMT
    This is a beautiful story of love , and a very sad story of how gov. agencies can be so heartless .
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    Dec 15, 2014 8:58 PM GMT
    I totally agree. I can't understand how somebody can read their story and then say they oppose marriage rights for all. That's why stories like this need to be spread — it's not just a philosophical discussion; it's a practical and real issue for everyday people.
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    Dec 15, 2014 9:12 PM GMT
    Heartbreaking. icon_neutral.gif
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    Dec 15, 2014 9:27 PM GMT
    Incidentally, SunServe where Chris works is very near us, and diagonally across from our attorney's office. Who drew our own legal documents, including health care surrogates for us both.

    I've taken my husband to the same ER at Broward Medical North, mentioned in the article. My experience was different. But then I had made sure I'm listed in their computers as "Next of Kin" for my husband. In Florida you've gotta do that. Not only was I not put off, I was the one approving his emergency medical care, making the decisions for him, consulted by his doctors and totally involved.

    These article pictures of them below are from the same radiation clinic where I was treated. Rated the best in South Florida, so I know Richard was getting top-notch care. At least he didn't lack for that.

    My husband spent a lot of time in this waiting room, during my 6 weeks of daily radiation treatment. He also sat beside me during all my exam visits with my oncologist there. Not this doctor, but his colleague and founder of the clinic.

    crisis5_zpsc62036e0.jpg

    I was in this very same machine as Richard, on that exact same table. It's kinda spooky for me to see it in this article.

    It's not the treatment machine, but rather is used to map the cancerous area they're going to radiate in another room. That other machine is computer controlled, based on the 3D map this machine creates, so it can "paint" the involved area only, to spare healthy surrounding tissue from radiation. Richard was getting the very latest & best treatment available.

    caregiver4_zpsf5a06938.jpg
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    Dec 15, 2014 9:51 PM GMT
    Did you know them Bob?
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    Dec 15, 2014 10:33 PM GMT
    DJ_Lauderdale saidDid you know them Bob?

    They both look vaguely familiar, especially Richard, but no, I can't say I knew them. Nor have I heard their story locally. I'll ask around.

    I'm guessing they lived north of us, to go to Broward North ER in Deerfield, versus Broward Imperial Point ER, closer to Wilton Manors and where we normally go ourselves. What date was all this?
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    Dec 16, 2014 12:30 AM GMT
    Some time this year. I hope people spread this story, it has a message that needs to be heard.
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    Dec 16, 2014 12:36 AM GMT
    DJ_Lauderdale said
    [It happened] Some time this year. I hope people spread this story, it has a message that needs to be heard.

    I agree. And as I said, I'll check locally to see what I can learn, because I hadn't heard about it, and it happened here.

    I have my own similar story, regarding my late partner. Who literally died in my arms of AIDS. And the hurdles I encountered to get him treatment, and to allow me to stay with him, in a State with no gay rights. It was also our final journey. This story is repeated far too often.
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    Dec 16, 2014 8:31 PM GMT
    Thanks for the input Bob.

    One of the more troubling undertones to the story is what Chris and Richard had to say about the gay community, and their feeling of abandonment and isolation. In their biggest time of need, there wasn't a lot of support. That's scary.

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    Dec 16, 2014 8:54 PM GMT
    DJ_Lauderdale saidThanks for the input Bob.

    One of the more troubling undertones to the story is what Chris and Richard had to say about the gay community, and their feeling of abandonment and isolation. In their biggest time of need, there wasn't a lot of support. That's scary.

    Fortunately my own experience was the opposite. Most of which I've related here before.

    When my first partner suddenly developed dimentia literally overnight, I realized we had never drawn any protective legal documents between us. And now with his mind gone it was too late. The doctors initially allowed me to be involved, because I was important to them as a source of patient history, when my partner was raving & incoherent.

    But after 3 days his doctor said they had a problem with my continued involvement, lacking any legal standing. So I contacted a close friend, President of our State's Equality. He in turn put me in touch with the biggest law firm in the State, and specifically an attorney who specialized in GLBT cases.

    She got a judge to issue an emergency decree making me his guardian. What normally took 3 months was done in 3 days. Setting a precedent in that State for gay couples. From that moment I was legally completely in charge of his care, and now the doctors dealt with me alone. Which they were good about.

    When he died 6 weeks later (he had incurable PML, a fatal AIDS disease) my friends helped me make the funeral arrangements, including a huge memorial service. I couldn't have gotten through it without them. But then I had an emotional breakdown.

    I wouldn't leave my home office, sleeping and eating there. I refused to enter our bedroom, or the rest of the house. I had the groceries delivered to my door, and ate out of cans. In April the Christmas tree was still up, and all the other decorations.

    Finally my gay friends came over and did an intervention. They cleaned the kitchen, which hadn't been touched since New Years's Day (Miss Havisham, for you Dickens fans), and made me take down the Christmas decorations. I began to normalize and live again.

    Maybe these 2 guys didn't get much support from their gay community. I dunno. But *I* did. It's one of the reasons I love to live among LGBT. I've never been let down, in a time of need.
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    Dec 16, 2014 9:16 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    DJ_Lauderdale saidThanks for the input Bob.

    One of the more troubling undertones to the story is what Chris and Richard had to say about the gay community, and their feeling of abandonment and isolation. In their biggest time of need, there wasn't a lot of support. That's scary.


    "But after 3 days his doctor said they had a problem with my continued involvement, lacking any legal standing. So I contacted a close friend, President of our State's Equality. He in turn put me in touch with the biggest law firm in the State, and specifically an attorney who specialized in GLBT cases."


    You're lucky; the majority of people out there don't have those kinds of connections and, therefore, won't get any efficient help from the biggest law firm in the State. You did, good for you. I'd argue that the experiences of Chris and Richard are more typical than yours.

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    Dec 16, 2014 9:22 PM GMT
    DJ_Lauderdale said
    Art_Deco said
    DJ_Lauderdale saidThanks for the input Bob.

    One of the more troubling undertones to the story is what Chris and Richard had to say about the gay community, and their feeling of abandonment and isolation. In their biggest time of need, there wasn't a lot of support. That's scary.

    "But after 3 days his doctor said they had a problem with my continued involvement, lacking any legal standing. So I contacted a close friend, President of our State's Equality. He in turn put me in touch with the biggest law firm in the State, and specifically an attorney who specialized in GLBT cases."

    You're lucky; the majority of people out there don't have those kinds of connections and, therefore, won't get any efficient help from the biggest law firm in the State. You did, good for you. I'd argue that the experiences of Chris and Richard are more typical than yours.

    That I can't determine. Except to say I do know what I experienced does exist.

    And if I had known their situation I would have done whatever I could to get them any connections they needed, to resolve these problems.

    I have been asking around today about them, as I said I would. And so far I'm not learning anything. But it may take a while.
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    Dec 16, 2014 10:48 PM GMT
    I'm not sure what you're trying to find out or learn. I posted the story in the hopes that people will share it and spread the messages it contains. I hope that in 5 or 10 years we can look back at this story and describe it as "the way it used to be."

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    Dec 16, 2014 11:56 PM GMT
    Thanks to the OP for this thread, which also shows why Art Deco's RJ Royalty, bringing to the forefront with his perspective a topic of true substance - glimpses of our futures and what we should prepare for, regardless of whatever legal standing we might have then. If for only a millisecond before it's bumped by more typical threads.
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    Dec 17, 2014 12:52 AM GMT
    DJ_Lauderdale saidI'm not sure what you're trying to find out or learn. I posted the story in the hopes that people will share it and spread the messages it contains. I hope that in 5 or 10 years we can look back at this story and describe it as "the way it used to be."

    You had asked me if I knew them. I do not. So I wanted to see if others locally here knew them. If you think that's inappropriate I will stop.
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    Dec 17, 2014 1:04 AM GMT
    An absolutely beautiful story of love and devotion.
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    Dec 17, 2014 1:24 AM GMT
    DJ_Lauderdale said
    You're lucky; the majority of people out there don't have those kinds of connections and, therefore, won't get any efficient help from the biggest law firm in the State.

    I wanted to reply to this separately. It wasn't entirely connections I had. But I do know how to leverage a situation in my favor.

    When I brought my partner to the hospital ER in a raving condition (a harrowing experience itself, he kept trying to open the car door while we were driving, I had 1 hand on the steering wheel and 1 hand restraining him from falling out), I had no legal status.

    When they put him in a wheelchair to take him back into the exam areas I was told to remain in the waiting room. I simply ignored it and walked through the doors with him, with the desk clerk protesting and calling after me.

    In an exam room (I can't recall if I first saw a nurse or a doctor) I said, in my best, confident command voice: "I'm his domestic partner. I know his medical history and saw this condition develop. How can I advise you?"

    I did NOT defiantly say I demand to remain with him, or start debating non-medical legal issues about my rights. That would have gotten me tossed out.

    I simply presented myself as someone who had information the care providers would need in treating him. So they let me stay at his side without question. A balance of bluster and balls worked beautifully.

    It was only days later, when my continuing status at the hospital was being questioned, that I learned the kinds of connections I really had. But yah know, if you don't have those connections personally, you borrow somebody else's. That is, you ask around, about who knows who, and make it happen. Which is what I did with our Equality friend. Or you use a friend of a friend.
  • HndsmKansan

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    Dec 17, 2014 2:45 AM GMT
    Great story! Very glad you took the time to share with us!

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    Dec 17, 2014 4:11 AM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    DJ_Lauderdale saidI'm not sure what you're trying to find out or learn. I posted the story in the hopes that people will share it and spread the messages it contains. I hope that in 5 or 10 years we can look back at this story and describe it as "the way it used to be."

    You had asked me if I knew them. I do not. So I wanted to see if others locally here knew them. If you think that's inappropriate I will stop.


    Not at all. Chris left his job at SunServe and moved out of Florida a short time ago. That much I know.
  • hebrewman

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    Dec 17, 2014 10:03 AM GMT
    thank you for posting this story.
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    Dec 17, 2014 12:51 PM GMT
    So glad y'all are having the same reax that I did. ☺️
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    Dec 17, 2014 3:07 PM GMT
    DJ_Lauderdale said
    Art_Deco said
    DJ_Lauderdale saidI'm not sure what you're trying to find out or learn. I posted the story in the hopes that people will share it and spread the messages it contains. I hope that in 5 or 10 years we can look back at this story and describe it as "the way it used to be."

    You had asked me if I knew them. I do not. So I wanted to see if others locally here knew them. If you think that's inappropriate I will stop.

    Not at all. Chris left his job at SunServe and moved out of Florida a short time ago. That much I know.

    Well I also know for certain this happened locally, per our Sun Sentinel newspaper to which we subscribe. And as I said, the pictures from that cancer clinic are unmistakable, at the corner of Lyons Road and Coconut Creek Pkwy in Pompano Beach.

    Although the photo of that mapping machine is likely staged. The doctor wouldn't be there, you're attended by several radiation technicians.

    And returning to the topic of gay community support - my radiation treatments were 5 days a week, for 6 weeks. And I had to be there at 6:45 in the morning, leaving home around 6:15. It was quick, I'd be out of there NLT than 7:45, unless the doctor had scheduled a consultation update with me.

    But that was tough on my husband, since they didn't want me to drive myself if possible (actually I never felt any effects, it was like having a 7-minute X-ray, most of the time spent prepping me on the table - this wasn't the rougher chemo therapy). Plus my husband wanted to be in his own office by 8:15 in Fort Lauderdale, a longer drive.

    So some mornings one of several of our gay friends would drive me the 15 miles locally instead. And it would be them who'd sit in that waiting room pictured, until I was done. Our gay friends came through for us. And really they always do, in this and other things. As we try to do for them. Therefore it concerns me when I hear this couple felt the community wasn't supportive of them.
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    Dec 17, 2014 5:45 PM GMT
    The passage from the story that gave me so much trouble was this one:

    Richard had been in the small Deerfield Beach house in the Natura senior community for 38 years. While the men were on “friendly hello” terms with neighbors, it unnerved Chris he had no one nearby to call if Richard, home alone, had an emergency.

    A few friends helped with transportation or visits: “I have been sort of disappointed by the gay community,” Richard remarked one morning in October. “It’s all party, party, party. What cruise they have been on, when they are going to the theater.”

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    Dec 18, 2014 3:27 AM GMT
    This makes its own case. Thanks for sharing.