Monday • 2016.07.18
Apparently They Can Just Take Away Your Hormone Therapy at Any Time without Warning
I am trapped in the middle of an evolving bureaucratic nightmare, my health hanging in the balance, and Ontario’s medical system largely to blame.
I’m a transgender woman and I’ve been on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for nine years, with the exception of one eight-month period quite a while ago during which I had to temporarily stop HRT in order to make sperm to freeze (because I want to have a baby some day).
I remember that eight month period like it was yesterday, in fact I still have bad dreams about it.
On my HRT, I am a happy, healthy and relatively well-adjusted person.
When I don’t have my medication, I suffer anxiety, I’m miserable, prone to bouts of anger and depression with unpleasant mood swings, and all of those experiences worsen on a cumulative basis over time, culminating in suicidal thoughts and feelings (not fun). Also, off the pills, I gradually turn back into a werewolf, physically. I know the impacts of not having access to my HRT, both from the years before I transitioned, and from those miserable eight months (for which I will surely guilt my child someday in jest).
It’s not only unfun to be off those pills, it’s dangerous and excruciating. My body knows what it needs: It needs these pills, to maintain my normal female hormone balance, which is fundamental to my emotional health and mental well-being, and I’m very much aware that I’m going to be taking these pills for the rest of my life. As medical professionals, the staff at my last doctor’s clinic ought to be aware of this too.
So imagine my surprise last month, when I found out from the pharmacist, with an empty pill bottle on my shelf at home, that my clinic “would no longer issue refills.” I was fucked on one medication right away, and would soon be running out of my other medications as well. My prescriptions having been suddenly terminated without warning, I am left in a desperate scramble to access new service.
My doctor retired in early 2015. I didn’t find out until about six months later, when I emailed him about something. You see, we had always communicated exclusively by email for years.
Apparently, though, the clinic sent a paper letter through the mail in 2015 concerning his retirement; But I had moved house in January of that year, so the letter got returned to them.
I found out today (Friday, July 15th) that the clinic had actually flagged my patient record as “letter returned,” but— And, what the fuck— They made no other effort to contact me even though I know for a fact they have my current telephone number and email on file.
Also, on a side note, in early 2016 this same clinic actually forced me to pay a $90 ransom fee on my own medical records, which had been sold to a private third party agency. Classy. Also, just saying, but that medical-records-ransom-demand phone call? Yeah, that would have been an ideal time to have mentioned “Oh hey, by the way, we’re going to suddenly stop filling your prescriptions in about three months. Just FYI, might wanna get on that.”
At any rate, that clinic never issued any notice or warning to me whatsoever that my prescriptions were in jeopardy. They just randomly decided to completely stop issuing me refills, and I found out on the day I needed a refill.
What am I going to do?
This problem is not resolved yet, but I can tell you one thing very clearly: Hormone replacement therapy should be available without prescription.
Stay tuned for part two of this harrowing tale of a trans woman’s health held hostage by bureaucratic institutions.