Saturday, 16 August 2014

Being Questioned For My Meds

Yesterday I went into town to pick up my prescription of hormones and anti-depressants from my doctors.  Nothing unusual in this, after all I do it at least once a month. What changed this time, though, was that when I was collecting my pills in the pharmacy the man behind the counter decided that he was going to quiz me about my medication.

The conversation went a little like this;

Pharmacist:  Are these your tablets?

Me:  Yes.

Pharmacist:  You’re taking Oestrogen?

Me:  (feeling very on edge now) Yes.

Pharmacist:  Really?  You know what these are for right?

Me:  I do.

Pharmacist:  You know what they’ll do to you don’t you?

Me:  Kind of why I’m taking them.

Pharmacist:  Oh, well we don’t usually give these out to men.  It’s very of weird.

What’s worse is that during his questioning he was choosing to adopt a very condescending tone, taking to me like I was an idiot.  Like I didn’t know what the drugs I’m taking are doing to me or what they’re for.

The whole experience left me feeling very defensive and very upset.  What business is it of his if they’re my pills or not?  Why should it matter if I’m taking oestrogen?  Surely my doctor would have a pretty damn good reason to put me on them.  I mean, what does he think it was a typo? 

Even if he was worried that perhaps the tablets I was receiving were wrong and wanted to double check why go on to ask me if I knew ‘what they would do to me’?  I felt like maybe that was taking a step too far into being rude.  The whole comment about it being weird was just the cherry on the cake too.  Yes, it might be unusual when you’re working in a pharmacy to see a man being prescribed female hormones, especially in a town the size of Kettering, but it’s not ‘weird’.  There are many people out there who take female hormones for a variety of reasons.

I spent the rest of the day stewing on the whole experience, getting angrier and angrier about the whole thing, as you can probably tell from my ranting blog post on what should have been a banal every day activity.

Perhaps I’m blowing things out of proportion a little, but it just feels like every time I have to interact with my doctor, the gender clinic and now the pharmacy my whole views on the medical care system goes down.  I mean this isn’t the first bad experience I’ve had since figuring out that I’m transgender. 

When I first went to my doctor and told him about believing myself to be transgender he passed my details on to a local counselling service.  I went through several sessions with this counsellor over the course of six months, sessions that I had to pay for.  Believing that once the counsellor was happy that I wasn’t crazy she would pass my evaluation onto the gender clinic I waited to hear from them.  And waited.  And waited.  Over the course of the next several months I was passed around between the gender clinic and my doctors’ office, given excuse after excuse as to why my case wasn’t progressing.

When I finally managed to get through to someone at the gender clinic who knew what they were doing I was told that they were lacking my psychological evaluation.  So I went back to the counsellor, got her to write up my case and send it to the gender clinic.  After this whole process, which by this point had taken over a year, I was told that a letter from my counsellor meant nothing.  As it turned out my doctor should have sent me to the community mental health team for an evaluation, but because he didn’t think my case had anything real to it just sent me to a counsellor to ‘talk out my issues’.

Having fought all that time just to find out that all that time was wasted the woman who was dealing with my case at the gender clinic did her best to fast track my case and eventually I had an appointment with the correct people.  Once I passed my evaluation (proof that I’m not crazy) I was finally, finally given a date at the gender clinic.  Over two years after I first went to me doctor!

I had a whole year wasted.  Time stolen from me.  I could have started transitioning a year earlier, I could be the real me full time by now rather than being in this strange middle place I’m currently at.  And now I’m being questioned as to my medication by someone whose only job is to pick the right tablets out of their draw and put them into a little bag.

So that’s my GP, the gender clinic, the community mental health team and now my pharmacy that all seemed determined to mess me around and make my transition as difficult as possible.  Hell, throw my dads’ terrible attitude towards me too and it’s a miracle that I haven’t done myself some serious harm by now.

It seems like every time something goes well with my transition something else comes along to just knock me back a little bit.  I wonder what rubbish I’m going to have to deal with next?



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  1. I wonder if a few snappy malpractice suits could cull this all-too-common pattern.

  2. Just FYI, it's a HUGE liability for pharmacies to give out the wrong medication and it happens more often than you'd think. There are hundreds of thousands of medications out there, all of them have multiple names (trade names and chemical names and generic names) and doctors' handwriting can be confusing. It is absolutely a pharmacist's job—their training includes this—to check to make sure the prescription makes sense, as a double-check. They are also supposed to go over with you what the medication's side effects are and what the correct dosages are and what time you should take them and whether you should take them with food etc or not, and they are also supposed to ask you if you have any questions about the prescription.

    While I don't doubt that, with the condescending tone, this particular pharmacist was trying to insinuate something, he was definitely correct to make sure that you knew you were receiving female hormones and that that's what you intended to receive, in case it was a mistake.

  3. Amy, please do report this one way or the other. If only to educate the pharmacist and let them know how you feel. I accept the previous comment about ensuring these pills were right for you, however being a little knowledgeable in this situation could help them to be a bit more understanding of just why you might be taking them.

    Emms x

  4. I was almost in tears at the counter when I was interrogated in front of a whole line of waiting clients. In the future I'm just going to ask for a private consultation with the Pharmacist if HE starts asking questions like this.

  5. If it helps, I still get queries occasionally even though I'm post-transition. Usually it's because the dosage is unusually high for a woman on either birth control or HRT. It's perfectly normal for a pharmacist to query unusual prescriptions, and being pre-transition and presenting male would have been a very unusual situation for the pharmacist. I think they made a good call to check and I don't think they were passing any comment on you.