Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What's in there? Kryptonite?
Kidney Stones and the Conscience Clause

I just made an appointment for a CAT scan. It's just kidney stones, try not to be too disappointed. After giving the nice lady (Cheryl) all the usual information the medical industry requires to make sure they'll get paid, I was asked for an emergency contact and then what I thought was a strange question.

Cheryl: "Would you like to tell me your religion?"

bullet: "Umm... No?"

Cheryl: "Ok, then we'll see you on Friday!"

The only reason I can imagine they would need to know my religion is in case I die or am near death. That is a scary thing to contemplate. I'm sure it's just another blank on the standard form, but still: What the fuck are they going to be shooting at me? Or filling me up with, since there's some kind of dye involved in the other procedure, a "KUB", which I've had before and it's lovely. Here I am using "lovely" to mean "the most painful experience I've ever had to endure". Last time it involved lying half naked on a metal table while the barium dye pushed VERY HARD on the enormous kidney stone that was, quite frankly, painful enough without the help. The other kidney was working just fine, but, of course, I couldn't go pee until they were done. To top it all off, the crap they gave me didn't even come out a cool color, just clear. It seems to me the least they can do is turn your pee blue or purple or something.

As you can probably tell, I am very much looking forward to it.

More seriously, though, is the problem with the question, itself. This is a very Christian town. If I had told the woman that I am an atheist or that I had no religion, what would happen? One would assume that a professional would simply do her job, regardless, but the Conscience Clause bullshit shows that it's not always the case. She now has my name, address, phone number and SSN, any combination of which could be used to harass me. She could refuse to treat me. Or she could simply "lose" my appointment. Or my insurance. Don't even get me started on the procedure, itself. The possibilities are endless. I'm not saying that Cheryl (or anyone down the line) would do anything like this, only that they could. Would, could, whatever, it doesn't matter. That the possibility occurred to me in the few seconds between her question and my answer is just a small example of the fear I have as an atheist among Christians, some of them exceptionally crazy. I am terrified of what could happen if they knew. That's not right.

The very idea of a conscience clause is a load of bullshit.

Think about it this way: Any law that would permit a Christian pharmacist to refuse to dispense contraception would also permit a Scientologist to refuse to dispense psychotropic drugs. I take psychotropic drugs. I would be very upset if I couldn't get them. Though I probably would not end up in a hospital if I were denied medication, I know quite a few people who would, some if their medication schedule were merely disrupted by an asshole pharmacist. If that were to happen, I would advocate severely beating the offender. If it happened to someone I know, I would do it myself. I'm not kidding.

This would be especially true if I'm still in a ridiculous amount of pain because they can't give me an appointment until fucking Friday!

This was supposed to be a short, funny post about contemplating death by X-ray, but then I started to think about it.

I wonder if anyone else has.


Pockets said...

Well, of course, I have, far further back than my post on the subject, All Pharmacists Cannot Be Nancy Reagan.

I also hate the doctor's office question, "How many sexual partners have you had," not only because as a red blooded American male who also happens to be fond of monogamy I always have to culturally contemplate lying in both directions before I give the true number, but also because the query is frequently followed up with a query line implying that my wife is a liar and a slut. The wording has changed over the years as blood screenings have become more common, cheaper, and covered by insurance, but the gist is the same.

"How many years has it been since your last sexual congress before those with your current partner?"


"How many sexual partners do you have now?"


"Is your partner monogamous?"



I know a lot of this line of questioning came about to fight A.I.D.S. and I further understand that the questions are meant to make one realize the scope of the danger, but come on. If ever one's answer in a doctor's office changed from YES to NO after the "ARE YOU SURE?" dig, perhaps realizing some fictional minutiae that would indicate infidelity, there would be murders, my friends, murders! Thanks, doc!

Anyway, back to your thoughts as an atheist among Christians in a doctor's office, I personally wonder if these sexual questions are included in your standard health history form and if not, what OTHER passive risks your localized medical establishment might be opening you up to.

Jesus was reputed to be a healer. End story.

bullet said...

Yeah, but you don't count because by the time I get to the end of one of your posts, I've forgotten what it was about. And you didn't mention anti-crazy pills, which is all I really care about.


PhillyChief said...

I've never been asked such a question. Lucky me I guess, since I'd be unable to keep quiet, and then who knows what'll happen to me?

Good luck with those stones. Ever watch Deadwood?

Pockets said...

Ohh boo hoo. Did the big scary five pages frighten you?!