March 2, 2016

Marriage Equality Saved my Life.

Roco Julie/Flickr

I have always been an optimist. I believe that everything happens for a reason and our experiences, good and bad, make us who we are.

I have had some time in the last week to reflect back on my life over the last couple of years, and more specifically, a series of events that started in September of 2013. This series of events led me to where I am now—one year out from Thyroid surgery and in an amazing place of health and self-understanding.

In September of 2013, my partner got a new job. A seemingly great, but otherwise ordinary event, right? It turned out to be, however, the start of what I now refer to as a “Season of Miracles in my Life.”

In October, a miracle occurred.

A panel of federal judges ruled that Idaho’s Constitutional Amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and marriage equality became legal. My partner and I were already legally married in another state, but overnight, we were suddenly legally married in Idaho, where we lived, too.

For the first time, we were recognized as a married couple in our own, very conservative state, giving our family the rights we had hoped for. It was so amazing, and frankly shocking to receive equal rights in such a quick and rather mundane way.

Throughout this time, I had been experiencing unplanned weight-loss and fatigue. I also was sick several times with sinus infections and seemed to pick up every bug that came along. This was unlike me—I am usually the last one to get sick, not the first. I had been feeling inclined to go to the doctor for quite some time, but did not have good insurance and avoided going due to the cost.

My partner is a state employee. On November 1st, I became eligible for my partner’s insurance at work.

After the new insurance kicked in, I went to a doctor for a full blood panel. Some new information was revealed, and over a two-month period, the reality of my health status became clear—I was diagnosed with a large thyroid tumor that was causing difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing and making my voice hoarse. I had a biopsy that was inconclusive and sent immediately to a surgeon.

Just over a year ago now, I had surgery to remove my thyroid. The pathology came back benign and I did not have cancer, but was told that if I had allowed the tumor to grow longer it would have likely become cancer.

Life without a thyroid is pretty interesting—I am now dependent on medication for the rest of my life, which freaks me out a little bit. Having access to good insurance is now more important than ever. I need regular blood work and have experienced several mineral imbalances since my surgery. Medication and doctors now matter to me in a way I never expected.

I have now recovered from major surgery and a diagnosis of an auto-immune disorder. It is a lot to take in, but I know that I was led down this path for a reason.

I know that all these events converged in the order that they did to lead me to the doctor and surgeon who treated me and set me on a path to health.

I honestly did not expect marriage equality in my lifetime, especially not in Idaho, where I have lived my whole life.

When I hear people speak out against marriage equality, I tell them my story. It is not about religious beliefs—it is about human rights. In my case, it was about the legitimizing of my family that allowed me to get good medical insurance when I came face to face with a major health crisis.

Marriage equality literally saved my life.


Author: Kristi Brower

Apprentice Editor: Rachel Leber/Editor: Katarina Tavčar

Photo: Roco Julie/Flickr

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Kristi Brower