a woman with an RX in her hand running all over a hilly landscape chased by lightening and dark clouds

What Happened When I Couldn’t Access My Medication

During the several phases of lockdown we faced with the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us struggled to access things we took for granted, like buying our favorite coffee beans or booking regular haircuts. Getting even the most boring basics like flour or toilet paper became challenging.

But one thing I was able to access quite seamlessly was my medication. I was never without my daily dosage of progestin that frees me from my horrid periods.

Here in the UK, just a few months ago, newspapers reported on shortages of hormones and other drugs. These headlines have become quite common following Brexit. But again, it didn’t affect me until very recently.

Unable to access medication

Two weeks ago, a shortage of supplies finally caught up with me.

I always order my hormones at least two weeks before they run out. But on this occasion, I had been sick for over a week and unable to leave my home to get my regular supply.

When I placed my order with the pharmacy, I had only a handful of pills left. This is probably why the universe, as a twisted cosmic retribution, made it so that I was painfully disappointed when I went to collect my medication.

With a troubled look, the pharmacist informed me they had run out of stock at every one of their other pharmacies. Cut to me, running down the road, sweaty and panicked.

I handed over my prescription to a different pharmacy and was relieved to hear they had some. Yet my hopes were premature: they had seven pills, a three-day supply. "Could you check in other pharmacies?" the pharmacist wondered.

Yet, with 52 pharmacies in my town, looming work deadlines, and a dog to take care of, I couldn't spend my day hunting down my hormones. My pills could be anywhere, but I was a one-woman army with no car.

Using my resources

Noticing my despair, the pharmacist came up with a solution. She could secure me with a few weeks' worths of pills, but at a lower dosage. Frantically I called my GP to have the same product prescribed, yet in a smaller amount.

In the meantime, I was also texting my sister in Spain to see if she could get some pills and, somehow, get them to me.

Eventually, thanks to Rita, the pharmacist, an angel on Earth, I managed to get a month's worth supply. The rest should arrive at the end of the month.

I don’t know whether the shortages will still be happening, but it has all been a lesson in stress management and letting go.

Trying to remain positive

To stay calm, I reminded myself I had other hormones at home that would have kept my periods at bay. Yet I am not sure throwing estrogen at the issue would have been the best approach for my emotional well-being.

In the worst-case scenario, I probably would have run out of pills and gotten my period. I had my arsenal of painkillers and a TENS machine. It would have been hell, but I would have gotten through it.

I have no clue whether I would have been able to do my job or take my dog for walks, but I would have managed it somehow.

In an ideal world, I wouldn’t need these hormonal clutches. Yet, several surgeries did nothing to cure my horrible periods. And living without my medication means life in a lot of pain and periods that can last over ten days.

I could feel hopeless, but I am choosing to believe there is another way of doing life. I just haven't found it yet. This woman’s search for her hormones turned into a stress-inducing odyssey.

The research around endometriosis is already so limited, the solutions offered by doctors so slim, and the support for this disease so poor, you’d think accessing the meds that enable us to live a somewhat normal life would be something we could rely on until it isn't.

Has this ever happened to any of you? Have you ever been unable to access some essential medication? Let me know in the comments below how you managed this situation.

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