Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Implanon Has Been Discontinued

I thought you might like to know. Because this formerly common brand of the contraceptive implant was prescribed to me by a medical professional who didn't even know.

I go and see the Dr about back pain. The s-word. I mention I'll be due to renew my implant in October and asked if that could be done on site or whether I'd have to go somewhere else.

I used to get my implant at Canterbury Health Centre, in-out, in-out, no questions asked, so I could have the sex of a similar nature. Ah, those halcyon days of free love and freer drugs. Although Canterbury is also home to the nurse who put me off getting the contraception injection after I went for my third one and she mumbled, "okay, I've got to get this in juuuust the right spot or I could paralyse you". Yeah, I stopped getting them after that.

"We can do that here, just phone up and book when the time comes". The time comes. I decide to opt in for another 3 years with a floppy toothpick in my left arm. I go to see the receptionist. "The nurse needs to have a chat with you before we can do that".

My heart drops into my stomach. What does she wish to 'chat' about? AM I DYING?

Despite my protests that I'd had it twice before and was happy with it, I respected the receptionist was just following the doctor's orders, and rather bemused, booked an appointment to see Dr Feelgood*.

Fast forward to next week:

"So, what can we do for you today?"

"Well, uh, apparently I've got to have a chat with you about the Implanon...?"

He looks stunned after I explain to him what I've told you above.

"I'm sorry, we appear to have wasted your time." he scribbled a prescription for me. Because apparently, although they can perform the procedure, I need to go out and get the thing myself. This is also new to me.

On my way out I book an appointment for the insertion. Giggedy.

The day before the appointment, I get this niggling feeling I ought to get the Implanon then, rather than wait til the morning of my appointment. How many pharmacists stock this, I wonder? I can't imagine there's a big call for them. Why get a product in that x amount of people only get once every 3 years? So even though I intended to rest my back and get on with household chores (CHORE HORSE) I trundled off to the nearest pharmacy.

"Do you have to pay for your prescription?"

I am always asked this.

Yes.

That is why I have filled out the part of the form which says I have to PAY. I wonder if people that need their eyes tested should really be in charge of doling out medication.

A quick nosy around at shampoo and lip balms later -

"I'm awfully sorry, the Implanon has been discontinued...

(It's the name of the post! It's like when they say the title of the film IN the film!)

...you have to go back to the Doctor and get him to write you a prescription for Netflix". (Well, it sounded like Netflix anyway. It's actually Nexplanon).

Shocked, I murmur a thank you (why.) and prepare myself for further trundling. I didn't suggest they phone my GP for verbal confirmation that yes, I am allowed a stick in the arm, because it's obvious they would've thought of that, right? I guess that's not allowed otherwise they would've just done that. Right? Oh god please tell me that's obvious.

To receptionist:

"This thing isn't made anymore, I need the doc to please gimme a prescription for one that is."

Flustered rummaging, squawking, telephone calls, Heart FM.

"You need to chat to a doctor first before we can do that."

I come across as a very angry person on the internet, I'm fully aware. That's because I'm polite, civil and generally mildly-mannered IRL. I like to keep the peace, let sleeping dogs fart, be courteous and be respectful. Even when dealing with utter muppets that are best depicted in this song:

But I was starting to lose my temper.

Through gritted teeth:

"I have already had a chat with the Dr. That's why I came in last week."

Checking, clicking, rustling, tutting.

"Ah, but you spoke to Dr Feelgood and it's Dr Fox** that does the procedure."

"But he agreed that a chat was a waste of my time! He wrote me a prescription! He gave me the all-clear!"

"Um, well, I'll just see if I can get hold of Dr Fox"

Foot-tapping and angrily glaring at a poor defenseless bottle of alcohol hand gel.

"She says you have to come in for a chat first"

"A chat?! But I'm happy with it! Wait, you do mean chat about the implant right?" (My ebola fears rising to the fore again). Affirmative. "I've had one twice before! I'm a temp, if I'm not at work I don't get paid! I can't afford to 'chat'! I just want my contraceptive for all that sex I'm not getting!"

I'm not sure if that last line is 100% accurate portrayal of my famous last words. But i do remember bleating 'CONTRACEPTIVE' and clamming up fast when I realised everyone in the waiting room now knew what I was there for.

Receptionist calls Dr Fox. Discussion and laughter. What is this? Are they having a 'chat'?

Meanwhile I've calmed down, a mixture of meditating upon QUIT SMOKING signs, embarrassment and sadness that I've erupted at the wrong person.

Having worked in the front line in NHS roles, I understand how it feels when some pratt blames you for everything from their pneumonia to their car not starting and expects you to have eight years worth of medical school under your belt to boot.

Belt to boot. I like that. Sounds like a mens' clothes shop. Better than Topman innit. Which is an anagram of tampon, incidentally.

"There's nothing in your journal about having had a chat...umm, she needs you to come in to see how deeply your current one is fitted and that sort of thing"

Fun fact: The Implanon was discontinued in 2010 because of unwanted pregnancies. Thanks for the heads up, doc!

Defeated, I agree to another appointment and shuffle out to track down the nearest poor sod with ears and fags (what with those quit signs having given me the urge) for a rant and a puff.

What a fucking waste of time. And here's someone with nasty sciatica trekking all over Brighton in the quest for non-existent medication.

It doesn't feel right to complain about a service you get for free. But in my eyes it is right to complain about bad service, and it is right to point out gaps in the knowledge of medical professionals, poor communication and unnecessary bureaucracy.

Implanon? More like IMPLANOT.

*doesn't actually feel good

**not an actual fox.