Advice Columns

Dear Abby: Wife questions care received at out-of-town walk-in clinic

Q: On a recent trip out of state, my husband became ill. The hotel we stayed in referred us to a nearby urgent care walk-in clinic.

The nurse took his blood pressure, which was very high. The “doctor” never took his temperature or mentioned the high blood pressure to us. He prescribed six drugs and we went on our way. My husband was happy; I was not.

When we returned home, I looked up the doctor’s name on the internet. Actually, he was a physician’s assistant, not a medical doctor. Abby, what should people do if they become sick while traveling? — Traveling Medical Emergency

A: You have asked an excellent question, one that may help many other people.

It is always wise when you travel to bring along a list of any medications you’re taking and a copy of your medical records. Medical records are online these days and can be emailed to you upon request. A lot of health insurance companies offer a 24-hour service to call for a referral to a physician in whatever locale you happen to be.

Physician assistants are standard in many areas of the country as long as they are supervised by a physician — and in your husband’s case, there should have been an M.D. on the premises. You, as the consumer, have a right to ask questions. It would not have been out of line to inquire about the certification of the person who was treating your husband or to ask to see the supervising M.D.

If the medical emergency is dire, take no chances and call 911. If someone is really sick (having chest pains, muscle weakness, trouble speaking), an emergency room is better than an urgent care because more expertise and testing are available onsite.

Q: We are a married male couple. It is always awkward to use the word “husband” when I’m referring to or asked about my spouse, because heterosexuals seem to think that if I have a “husband,” then that makes me a “wife.” Nope!

I have started using “husband” and not “partner” because we are legally married and have been together for 18 years. Lesbians seem to have no trouble using “wife” when referring to each other. Why then does there seem to be a problem with male couples using “husband and husband” without it seeming awkward for heterosexuals?

I have experienced this problem many times, and so have other male couples we know. Is there another term that’s better than “husband”? — Perplexed in Phoenix

A: You could use the word “spouse,” but using the word “husband” is preferable. (“Partner” may be appropriate, but in my opinion, it does not accurately describe your status as a married person.) People may be jolted to hear married male couples refer to each other as husband because same-sex marriage is still new in many areas of the country.

Personally, I think you should use the word “husband” and be confident in doing so. The more you do, the greater the opportunity for the larger population to become accustomed to hearing it used.

Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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