HRT shortage is proof Government has once again let women down

Proof (if ever it were needed) that women’s healthcare requirements are not being taken seriously in this country can be found in the recent news regarding the shocking shortage of hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Yes girls, hot on the heels of the CervicalCheck scandal, we now have the HRT shortage scandal. Oh and if anyone’s brave enough to call me over-dramatic for dubbing the scarcity of a drug that has proved to be life-saving for menopausal women ‘a scandal’, they can take it up with my hormones! I bet if there was a shortage of the male ‘miracle performance enhancing drug’ Viagra, our government would quickly come up with a solution!

As someone who was plunged into a surgically induced menopause due to a total, radical, abdominal emergency hysterectomy ten years ago, despite the fact my body and mind went into complete shock, I flat out refused to take HRT. Why? Because back then, the only option available was a drug derived through what I believe to be a horrific and continuous cycle of cruelty levelled against horses (pregnant mares, to be precise). Therefore, as an animal welfare advocate, there was no way, no matter how good it was, that I would touch HRT.

The fact I’d needed a breast biopsy one week after my hysterectomy didn’t even enter the equation as a risk for me. My sole concern was regarding the equine cruelty issue. I will add that all of my follow-up mammograms, including my latest one, have been clear, thank God.

It was on foot of this ‘good mammogram’ result, and the fact that HRT has come a long way from the cruel process around which it was originally derived – there’s now a life-changing ‘body-identical’ version available – I decided, having endured a decade of menopause, to look at my options.

To be clear, I’m very lucky in that I don’t suffer from hot flushes like most women (my heart goes out to you, I believe they can be debilitating). However, I wanted to be free of the sleepless nights, anxiety, brain fog and OMG, the constant weeping. Therefore, armed with my own ‘risks and benefits’ research, I approached my doctor to see if she, like me, felt I was a candidate for this new cruelty-free elixir – and she did!

Favouring the gel over the patch, I began my treatment in February. However, recent news regarding a ‘disruption to supplies’ due to ‘so many women being prescribed this version of HRT’ rendered my heart to plummet to Titanic depths. Just as I was beginning to feel ‘my old self’ again (and he-who-has-entered-into-the-state-of-holy-matrimony-with-me-and-must-legally-listen-to-me-whinging, was beginning to like me again), they’ve run out of HRT! Yep, níl aon cheann ar fáil… well, not until later in the summer!

Telling a menopausal woman she can no longer get her hands on her HRT gel is akin to hoisting yourself onto a tightrope without the aid of a safety net! Deciding this emergency was worthy of a SWAT team response, I immediately spoke with my doctor – the lovely Claire in Boyle Medical Centre – who quickly rang around trying to source some for me, or at least an alternative. No luck. Aaaaagh!

We had now officially entered ‘hard hat’ territory, ladies! A frantic call to my pharmacy (Johnston’s in Lanesborough) put me in touch with another Claire (or as I call her, a life-saver) who works there. Upon hearing the desperation in my voice and the fact I told her if I didn’t get my ‘fix’, there was a distinct possibility I’d grow a moustache so thick my upper lip could be awarded a national Coillte preservation award, ‘pharmacy Claire’ immediately morphed into Miss Marple mode!

I don’t know how she did it (and I don’t even care), but ‘pharmacy Claire’ somehow managed to source me a month’s supply. May God bless her investigative skills!

At this point, I must mention ‘pharmacy Claire’s’ colleague Jonathon, a gentleman who was so helpful and patient, I want to adopt him. Indeed, I’m truly blessed, because all of the staff at Boyle Medical Centre, and all of the staff at Johnston’s Pharmacy are absolutely wonderful people. And no, that’s not the high from the HRT talking – they genuinely could not be more obliging.

But this is where my goodwill to all ends! Therefore, if any menopausal women short on HRT gel are reading this (God love you), please know that the one month’s supply in my possession is so precious, I’m guarding it better than Pablo Escobar would’ve guarded a shipment of his cocaine! To that end – and while I know adding bitchiness and selfishness to my already over-booked schedule of menopausal symptoms is highly unattractive – I’m taking this opportunity to politely inform you that in the event you might consider asking me to share, the answer is no!

 

Well done Roscommon Community College for promoting positivity and diversity in the classroom

A huge comhghairdeas to staff and students at Roscommon Community College (RCC), who’ve received ‘official accreditation’ for their Safe and Supportive Schools (SASS) pilot initiative in league with BeLong To.

The first school in the county to receive this accolade (you could call them local pioneers), Roscommon Community College’s SASS system is set to provide systemic and positive supports across policies, practices, and (something which in my opinion is vitally important) people, in particular young LGBTQ+ people.

This is massive readers, especially as positive engagement and emotional as well as physical wellbeing during our school years go a long way towards shaping us for the rest of our lives.

I’d like to say well done to everyone involved in making this policy possible at RCC, especially as a Schools Climate Survey 2019 found shocking statistics regarding LGBTQ+ students, which claim that 73% of them feel ‘unsafe at school’, and 68% say they hear ‘anti-LGBTQ+ remarks from other students’.

While those figures are scandalous, you could possibly explain them as being hurtful slurs coming from ignorant and inexperienced young minds (although that’s definitely not an excuse). As such, the statistic that angered me the most is that 55% of students reported hearing ‘transphobic remarks from teachers and staff members’ Seriously? There’s actually a cohort of skilled, educated experts behaving as prejudicial, homophobic bullies being placed in charge of nurturing innocent and impressionable young minds? How disgusting! It’s simply not good enough…we need more schools like RCC!

 

Are UK health officials barking up the wrong tree?

News that ‘pet dogs are being probed’ by health professionals in the UK exploring a possible ‘link between dogs and the recent spike in sudden onset hepatitis in children’ has both worried and angered me, because it could lead to silly people abandoning their poor dogs.

I’m not a doctor, nor am I a veterinarian, however I am someone who has lectured students attending UCD’s college of veterinary medicine regarding animal welfare, nutrition and responsible pet care and ownership – as in, I know a bit about dogs.

While yes, there are some viral, bacterial and parasitic infections (we call them zoonotic viruses) affecting your dog which can, through your own lack of hygiene, get passed on to you (hookworms, roundworms, ringworm and possibly Leptospirosis, etc), it’s my understanding that infectious canine hepatitis (ICH) isn’t one of them.

The type of hepatitis that dogs get (the Adenovirus) is totally different to the type humans get, therefore it can only be passed onto other dogs (and foxes). Neither you nor your kids will become infected. In addition, let me stress that even canine hepatitis is rare these days mainly due to the vaccination process that largely eliminates the virus – so get those annual boosters updated!

But don’t take my word for it. If any readers are in doubt, my advice is to speak to your family’s vet and/or your family doctor, both of whom will provide professional expert information.