I know I’ve been MIA. It was crazy at work, then a long weekend getaway, then crazy at work again. (I’ll have a post about that soon, actually I have plenty of ideas for posts but haven’t gotten around to them yet).
It’s about that time of year for my annual “woman appointment.” I have plenty of doctors in my hometown and in Ohio where I went to school but never felt the need to get new doctors here in NY. Frankly I think it’s a hassle to transfer records for less than 5 visits. I check in with my rheumatologist over the phone and she writes up prescriptions and orders for blood work. All other health ailments I’ve either been at home at my parents house where most of my doctors are, or at school where I had an all-inclusive health clinic. So this is the first annual “woman appointment” without either in place.
So I made an appointment at Planned Parenthood. At first I thought Planned Parenthood was impressive. I thought, I’ll get my exam and my prescriptions right there on the spot, which is what they told me over the phone. Perfect! No commitment to a doctor I’ll only see once, no month to two month wait to get in as a new patient…. Until the practitioner comes in.
Like anyone with Lupus filling out a doctors’ form, when it says “Other” you put Lupus. The practitioner took one look, asked if I “had ANA” (Direct quote). I said yes my ANA is positive. She then informed me that due to Planned Parenthood rules she could not prescribe me ANY type of hormonal birth control. I was in shock! I pleaded my case, saying my rheumatologist and I have picked out the best low dose one that my lupus tolerates and prevents my ovarian cysts (yah yah yah, I’ve got more health problems than just the lupus). I said I had been on the same kind for 5 years and even during massive flare ups was never told I couldn’t take it. Practitioner said No can Do-sville baby doll (I love HIMYM).
Apparently there are new rules for Planned Parenthood and for other local county or state-run health clinics. If your ANA is positive you cannot be prescribed any hormonal birth control. No ifs ands or buts about it. She even informed me that some private OB/GYNs will not do it either. Some policy maker in these organizations read that hormones are bad for lupus. So they made a black and white rule with no room for discussion. The way she asked about my ANA too just proves that the people making this rule and enforcing it have never dealt with lupus.
I was in shock and so angry. While I understand the “better safe than sorry” mentality there should be ways around it. Like a call from the primary physician saying it’s ok. Or if the Lupus is inactive. Or if you’ve been on the same form of birth control for 5 years! I really don’t feel it’s their call to make whether I should be on hormonal birth control or not. They are not the ones monitoring my lupus activity, and most of them know nothing about the disease. I could go off on a long rant about how this is another way our healthcare system is so messed up for people with chronic illnesses but I won’t. All I’ll say is that it’s hard enough already to get my correct lupus medication and deal with the hassle of insurance companies. Now add on not being able to get normal everyday medication that millions of women take? Maybe they should bring in those of us with the disease before they make ill-informed policies regarding it.
As of now, I’m begging to get an appointment with a private doctor. But I’m also thinking for normal, non lupus related appointments maybe I shouldn’t be so open about my lupus. If I know a certain drug isn’t going to affect my disease activity (by checking with my rheumatologist first) then why does that one time doctor need to know?