JF recalls the research she did to find the closest perimenopause specialist she could see with her insurance.
OBOS Today: Could you tell me a little bit more about how, the process you had to go through to advocate for yourself and find some—find a specialist to kinda—?
JF: Yeah, so when I started getting, like, brain fog and fatigue, and it, like, didn’t go away, I was like, “I can’t live like this, I have things I want to do! [laughs] Right? I have to work! You know? I have to function!” And so I— I messaged my doctor through the, like, messaging system, and I said, “Can you refer me to somebody? I might need hormone therapy, I don’t know—” um, and she was like— and I like my doctor! My doctor’s good— and she was like, “Uh, yeah, sure, we usually refer folks to our in-house gynecologists; here are their names,” and I looked them up, and not a single one of them even listed menopause or perimenopause as a clinical interest and so— [laughs].
OBOS Today: That’s [audio is indistinct]—
JF: I know!
OBOS Today: Considering anyone with a uterus goes through menopause, so that should be something that they have a specialty in.
JF: Yeah, like, more people are going to go through menopause than get breast cancer or have fertility issues and we have special— like, it’s easy to find a specialist for, like, those things, um, as it should be, but it should also be, like, pretty natural to go to a specialist for this, and I happened to be in a Facebook group, with—about, like, folks who are trying to figure out perimenopause, and I was sort of venting in there about this, and somebody in there told me that there is actually a certification for medical providers who want to specialize. And so I wrote—and also that there are two clinics in Boston that specialize in menopause, and of course I checked and neither of them are on my insurance, so like, part of this is about, like, the way health insurance works in the US, right? Um, like there’s clinics in Boston that— just for menopause, but I can’t use them! Um, and so I wrote my doctor back, and I said, “That’s nice—but like none of them even list perimenopause as a clinical interest. I’d love to get somebody who’s certified or, like, has this as a specialty; like, can you help me find that person? Like, you know, my insurance is associated with, like, one of the big hospitals in Boston—like, you’d think, like, there’d be somebody.” [laughs] And she, like, asked around, and she was like, “I don’t know who to refer you to—If you have any suggestions— And I’ll keep asking around—” I mean, she—she totally understood the question, but also it seemed like no one had ever asked her for this before.
OBOS Today: That is so interesting, that is something—honestly because I have never spoken to anyone that was actively going through menopause and trying to seek out, you know, a specialist to help them—kinda understand how this would affect their body and how to deal with it, because obviously anyone with a uterus goes through it, right? So I expect, I personally just assumed that there would be—like when I, at least, get to that point, that there would be, like, some special resources besides just Google or your general clinician.
JF: Yeah, I mean hopefully there will be by the time it’s your turn. [laughs] Um.
OBOS Today: No, there should be.
JF: Yeah, so I went on the website for the organization that does the menopause certification for medical providers, and they had a terribly organized list. It was alphabetized by provider with no eye to geography. Like everyone who’s ever had the certification in order by alphabet. So I had to go through and, like, pick out the ones that were maybe local, and then look them up on my health insurance to see if they were in plan, and like came up with a shortlist of folks, and then, like, decided who I most wanted and then said, like, “Can you give me a referral to this person” —and my doctor was happy to do that, like at least she didn’t give me a problem about it, but— and I have that appointment coming up next week. I don’t know how that doctor is but, like, at least they have experience in this, [laughs] so it’s been—it’s been a whole thing and in the meantime, I’m just like, “Whoo! It is knocking me on my ass.”