I wonder about privilege a lot.
How is my life different and often better due to my privilege?
It may be that carrying a variety of marginalizations (fat, queer, disability, health) allows me more awareness of where my privilege shines through. I think it did today.
I also know I have blind spots and levels of unconsciousness.
Today was my first trip to the infusion center at the new Annapolis oncology practice, many local friends will know of that debacle. New office, lovely space, awful chairs and a lot of walking and I’m winded. I’m here for a quarterly Zometa infusion, it supports my bones from the assault of bone cancer, which metastasized from breast cancer. This is maintenance for me. And all is stable. All is well.
Except this place is brand new and all kinds of disorganized. I arrived early and waited 45 minutes to go back to infusion. Then I discover that this is community style infusion where you are all sitting together in one large room. I HATE that.
I want my privacy. There are about five sections and I’m led all the way to the back, where there are eight chairs instead of six and I’m the eighth person. We are just about six feet apart. Dang! Covid anyone?
And there it was. The end of my rope.
I got up and explained that I’d be happy to give her more time and leave, and walked away.
A nurse stopped me on my way out and asked what was happening. Close to tears I explained my wait, how frustrated I was with being told I wouldn’t be heard, and how uncomfortable I was sitting with so many others. The nurse Betty (not her real name) stepped in, she took me to a seat in a open section 20 ft. from anyone else, ordered my meds, and kindly placed my IV on the first stick.
The Zometa is now dripping into me as I write.
Now why is this making me think about my privilege? I got frustrated when I was made to wait for so long and I felt dismissed by the comments. I pushed back, I made my dissatisfaction known. And by simply walking out, I was also pitching a small fit.
I did that within a system where I, as an articulate white woman have privilege, and standing. I also did it nicely, I didn’t yell or cuss. I simply spoke it.
Would others have been listened to?
Would others have felt they had the personal power/advocacy/initiative even selfishness to walk out and say no?
Would others be intimidated?
I suspect that nurse Betty would have brought her friendly compassion to others as well.
I also suspect that many would simply sit, wait, and not say anything. Because our society teaches us that is what is required. A couple might have even been upset that I complained, seeing me as asserting my importance over them.
There isn’t a right answer here today, simply noticing a way I move in the world and that I have a level of expectation that is surely born out of privilege.
This is who I am.
And today I’m very glad to be done with Zometa for awhile. An email discussing my concerns about the situation and the design of the space has gone in and I will rest.