High Anxiety

trans medYIKES. What is going on with our healthcare system?!?! I know many of you ask this on a daily basis. Our physicians are being squeezed so tight that the level of care is visibly and dramatically taking a downward plunge.

Normally I am not one to get on a soap box about anything. But, mess with my kids, and get out of my way.

It took us months to find a pediatric endocrinologist that would treat Hunter. There is one in our geographic area that has the right credentials and regularly sees transgender children. However, she does not accept Hunter’s insurance. FAIL. So, we kept looking. Finally, we found a smart, compassionate, caring endocrinologist that was willing to treat him. She didn’t have the transgender thing under her belt but had access to leading authorities and said she was willing to do what she needed to do to make things happen. SUCCESS.

Our first appointment went really well. Thank g-d. She spent plenty of time with us. She interviewed, examined, shared and committed. All was good that day. I filled out releases so she could speak to our pediatrician, therapist, school social worker and anyone else that was critical to the success of this transition.

Now it’s time for our second appointment. I pull Hunter out of school early. We get to the doctor’s office, we sign in and we wait. And we wait. And we wait. Finally, 45 minutes later we are called in. It is an hour plus from the time we walked in the door until we finally see our doctor. Now, we are late for another appointment so we rush through this appointment after waiting for more than 60 minutes.

Good news, though. She approves the necessary next steps and promises to secure the appropriate documentation from Hunter’s therapist and to connect with the insurance company. We race out of there on a high.

Well, that was exactly one month ago today. We are no further along.

I have now called the endocrinologist’s office multiple times. By the way, nothing has been submitted to the insurance company yet (one month after the appointment). I have spoken to a nurse 4 out of the 5 calls and relayed my concerns. This morning I emphasized the fact that the delay is causing significant depression in my son.

So, we wait. I am disappointed and frustrated and concerned for my son. He deserves better than this. He deserves to get the appropriate care in a timely fashion to put him on the path to emotional and physical wellness.

This is one angry mama bear. Don’t get in my way.

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Necessary Meds

 

transgenderI am definitely not what you would call an earth mama, tree hugger, nature girl, or any other designation that implies all natural, holistic, believer in naturopathic methods in lieu of modern medicine.

However, I do make an honest attempt to eat well, take my vitamins (just in case) and get a moderate amount of exercise providing the weather is decent enough to not require a full-length down coat and insulated boots.

Also, I am not quick to pop pills. If meds (like antibiotics that we are fortunate enough to have access to) are necessary because nothing else will do the trick, then I will be the first one in line at the pharmacy counter. This applies to my kids’ welfare, as well. If they are sick and the appropriate OTC remedy or prescription can help, then I am all for it. Everything in moderation.

Where am I going with this? Though I am generally not a supporter of longer term use of meds, there are exceptions. Much written these days about the ADHD over-diagnosis. Too many kids are on Ritalin or Adderall or some other flavor of the day. Do we know the effects of long-term stimulant meds? I’d rather see alternate strategies employed that can provide relief for the child with too much energy, not enough focus and poor organization skills, especially in really young children. Sometimes, the meds are the only thing that does the trick. We held off for several years until our pediatrician said, “You’ll know if you are doing the right thing. Olivia’s behavior will be like night and day.” She was right.

Six years later, at age 14, when Olivia confided in me that she was transgender and really was a boy trapped in a girl’s body, she immediately followed the confession by a pronouncement that she “couldn’t wait to start on “T.”

“T” is trans-speak for Testosterone.

I wanted to scream, “You are too young. You don’t know what you want. You have no idea what the side effects are. This is irreversible. There are cancer risks. Why would you want to grow facial hair? We need to talk about this? Maybe you can consider this when you are eighteen…not before.”

But I didn’t.

Calmly, I outlined my concerns. Apparently, Hunter had already done a lot of research. He understood that in order to even be considered for hormone therapy, one needed to undergo a certain amount of psychotherapy by a qualified professional. He also was unfazed by my concerns. In his mind this was not a passing phase, a decision made on the fly or the “want” of the day. He had been thinking about this for a very long time.

Now you know how I feel about unnecessary meds. Was testosterone really necessary? I was just getting used to the short hair and shopping in the boys’ department. We hadn’t even begun the talk about using male pronouns. Really? Hormone therapy? I needed to process this.

So, here we are, one year later and we have come to understand, thanks to leading Pediatric Endocrinologist, Dr. Norm Spack, that if Hunter doesn’t start “T” while in high school, he will go to college “looking like a fourteen year old boy.” What a way to not fit in.

I am coming to terms with the idea that this is one prescription that falls into the “necessary” bucket.

Resources: The Transgender Child by Stephanie Brill and Rachel Pepper

https://www.ted.com/talks/norman_spack_how_i_help_transgender_teens_become_who_they_want_to_be