Calling all Catholic hematologists
An update on the Coumadin/contraception issue…
I had the big visit with the hematologist this morning (if you don’t know the story behind that, I first wrote about it here and here). It’s the follow-up visit I was waiting on to decide whether or not to switch doctors. And we have a verdict on that one. He was in a big hurry, as usual, and as he was walking out the door I asked him how serious the whole Coumadin/pregnancy issue is in the case of an unexpected pregnancy. He nonchalantly replied as he took another step out the door, “Oh, the risks of birth defects are really high, you’d need to have an abortion if you got pregnant while on Coumadin.”
I choked on the water I was sipping and sputtered out that it was against my religious beliefs. He said that in that case I must use multiple different forms of non-estrogen birth control (like condoms plus spermicide). By that time he had actually walked out the door, so I didn’t want to chase him down the hall yelling, “But what if birth control is against my beliefs too?”
I was so upset by that conversation, and not just for the obvious reasons. Not one of the three specialists I’m seeing had mentioned anything about the risks of Coumadin and pregnancy, I only knew about it from my own online research. Also, Dr. Hemo didn’t get all concerned about birth control and recommend a very conservative option until I told him I wouldn’t be open to abortion, as if abortion isn’t something to be avoided at all costs.
So, yeah, I need a new doctor. New doctors, actually. The whole thing is really daunting. Some thoughts off the top of my head:
- None of the doctors in my area listed on One More Soul are a) hematologists or cardiologists or b) are on my insurance plan. (Anyone know of another source for NFP-friendly doctors?)
- Two other doctors have concurred that nobody in their right mind, or at least nobody who dislikes being sued, would take me off of Coumadin before six months. If the clot returned and caused problems it would be clear malpractice. I will run this by a pro-life doctor if I ever find one, it’ll be interesting to see what they would do.
- Coumadin is hard to manage, as my twice weekly blood draws have shown. I don’t think a general practice office would be set up to do the frequent tests that I need. Dr. Hemo has an in-house lab where they can run the test on the spot and get me updated dosage information the same day. My dosage changes all the time depending on those results. Evidently this is important.
- The cardiologist said that twice daily shots of Lovenox (heparin) *might* be an alternative, probably the only other option. My portion of the prescription when I was only on once daily shots was $850/month, so I’m not so sure about that. Of course I’ll fight it with my insurance company, but I think they’re actually following the terms of the contract on that one.
- I’m such a wuss. I get really stressed thinking about switching doctors because I feel like it would offend my current doctor and his staff. How lame is that.
- I’m going to call my priest tomorrow to set up a meeting.
So that’s the situation. The things I mention above are just a list of the dilemmas/concerns I’m facing, I know that some of them are not certainties (e.g. maybe a general practice office could manage the Coumadin blood tests, maybe somebody would be willing to take me off of Coumadin and prescribe something else, etc.) I just have a lot of work to do: I need to get on the great NFP message boards that have been recommended to me, get on the phone with some of these doctors and see if I can meet with my priest.
This situation is so strange, sometimes I like to think that there must be some sort of purpose to it. NFP had been on my mind heavily for the past few months (as a glance through my May archives will show) and then, just a few weeks after I embrace the Church’s teachings on contraception, out of the blue I come up with a condition that requires me to be on medication that is completely incompatible with unexpected pregnancy. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be learning something here, or if it’s the devil testing me or what, but it feels like there’s some sort of purpose — for better or worse — behind this situation. But what on earth could that be?