Category Archives: Medical

Go For Launch

There, I think that title says it all really. Ok, maybe I should add some context to that. Well launch procedures run on countdowns and in a way so have I. with all this surgical stuff. I should add here said countdown got paused for a bit, and by a bit I mean a month as my op date was somehow double booked, but whatever. It’s happening and it’s getting pretty close now.

The last pre-launch checks have come back clear too, and by that I mean I had my presurgical assessment last week. Now I was intending to write about this sooner, but I didn’t get a chance on the day and since then I’ve had laptop troubles. Anyway, back to what I’m meant to be writing about …

I’ll spare you the travel details down to the hospital, though I did find a way there that didn’t involve tube trains, a good thing as my last outing on one of those triggered a meltdown. All in all i got there with no problems, everything ran on time (amazing given the present rail chaos at the moment) and I was miles too early for my appointment. It must have been a quiet day though as I had the waiting room to myself and we got on with stuff pretty much right away.

park

(Here we are again)

Tests were done, quite a few at that. I had my height, weight and BMI checked. (5,9″, 11st, 22.7 for anyone interested) Hmm, seems I’ve lost an inch somewhere. Blood pressure was next, 120/70 as usual. It’s no secret that HRT raises blood pressure, happily in my case this has meant my blood pressure is boosted to where it should be for a normal person.

had a chat with the nurse about my medical history, any family medical history of relevance and my health in general.

MRSA swabs were next, a new thing for me. Basically a cotton bud was rubbed around the inside of my nose (which tickled), and then the same for my groin. Thankfully I could do that one myself and only involved putting the thing in that crease where your leg meets your body.

Blood tests were next. I’ll spare you the usual minor freakout I had because I can’t handle the sensation I get from feeling a needle go in me. Blood tests were for the usual things, like liver function, making sure I wasn’t anaemic and so on. Also useful for figuring out my blood type, necessary, just in case a transfusion is needed (unlikely, but it’s a possibility with this surgery).

Finally came the ECG, or echo cardiogram, yeah, that thing where they put half a dozen sensors on you and wire them to a machine to check your heart rate. It’s something that according to my nurse a lot of people hate. I’m not bothered by it, I’ve seen them done before and knew the procedure. Here’s a fun fact. My reaction to needles is so strong it nearly wrecked this test. it took us a while to get a clean reading.

And after all this fun I had the final glamorous task of going off to wee in a bottle for yet more tests before going for a sit down before moving onto part two. this would be with a lady called Iffy. I’d been in contact with her over the past few months in the run up to this. She’s got a reputation for being a brilliant nurse and I had heard a lot of really good things about her from other trans women.

With Iffy we went through the hospital procedures, timetable, what to expect and so on. This is good because a lot of unknowns were sorted out and I am a bit more relaxed now there’s a structure to things. We went through admission day, surgery day and the days after, before going through the big reveal day and dilation procedures. Things I learned?

  • I get fragmin injections to look forward to each day I’m there (more needles).
  • Nil by mouth after midnight and I have a nice enema to look forward to at 6am
  • I’m going to have emla cream prescribed so I will cope better with the canula/anaesthetic procedure on the day.
  • I can get up and about the day after surgery and providing there’s no issues I can go wandering about and can even leave the hospital during the day to go to the local cafe if it takes my fancy, provided I let them know where I’m going of course.
  • My catheter will be taken out at midnight on the day I’m due to go home.

Once home it’ll be a case of eat, sleep, dilate three times a day, repeat for the first 8 weeks before dropping dilation down to twice a day if things are well and no doing anything strenuous for 6 weeks.

Am I nervous? A bit, but as I said to Iffy that won’t really kick in until the day before, when things actually start happening, at which point I’ll probably skip nervous and go straight for panic attack. To be fair, and as Iffy said, I’ve never had an operation before and I’ve chosen a biggie for my first. We’re going to be doing something that’ll basically punch a big hole in the most powerful muscle in your body.

Do I have any doubts? Is this what I want? Two questions that I have asked myself occasionally throughout transition. I’m not afraid to admit that. Questions that I answer with a counter question; Am I happier now? To which my entire mind screams out “Fuck yes”. It’s nice to have consensus for a change.

Mission Control? Resume the countdown. We are go for launch.

eva

(Eva 01 launch sequence, from Neon Genesis Evangelion.)

 

 

 

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Years Became Months …

Then months became weeks, now it’s getting to the point where weeks become days. Yep that’s life at the moment and now the endgame is in sight. I’m also feeling the closer I get the more layers I shrug off that were holding me down for a long while. I feel lighter, stronger, and ready to take on something I know is going to be hugely challenging.
Again I’m writing kinda cryptically here, but it’s how stuff is forming in my mind and I’m just rolling with it.

Today I had a pretty important appointment. It’s taken three years to get to this point, but I’ve crossed it now. I’ve had a consultation on the surgery I’ve been after for so long. Now that’s done I’m looking at a time scale of weeks now until it goes ahead. Soon those weeks will be days (which I’m already counting down) and then I’ll be there.

I’ll spare you the usual travel details and whatnot and my usual issues, though I will give a mention to my local bus company who really need to get their shit together. Thanks to my first bus being late (again) and my connecting bus seemingly vanishing out of existence it took an hour to travel the 5 miles to the train station. Rebecca couldn’t get the time off work for this one so it was a solo trip, hence the buses.
Still, I got to my appointment with an hour to spare (about average for me) and promptly ran into a friend I keep in contact with on Twitter and tend to see at big meet ups such as Trans pride. A few minutes nattering away and I get called in. Surprised given I was so early. I’d even packed a book for the waiting room.

This time the appointment was going to be rather different, less emphasis on gatekeeping and much more on what I’d like and what would and could happen. I’d done my research but even so I was feeling a bit like I was walking into the unknown after so many formulaic appointments at Charing Cross.

Things proceeded quickly. After the usual greetings, a quick question on how long I’d been living full time for came up and we were onto medical stuff. Questions about close family, any personal health conditions or family conditions mainly, before being asked what procedure I was after (penile inversion) as well as all the usual complications that might arise from surgery. Stuff like possibility of prolapse, things not healing well, not having any sensation, among other rarer things.

Then came the bit I was most anxious about: The psychical examination.

This had been causing me anxiety on two fronts. First off, I’m not all that keen on letting anyone see my bits, much less someone I don’t really know. The second was concerning hair removal. I’ve been paranoid that having spent this long waiting I was going to get told ‘No’ because hair needed removing, something that falls under ‘Stuff that can be done while waiting around’.

It was something that had bothered me so much I took things into my own hands (literally), got Rebecca’s electrolysis machine set up and went to town. Electrolysis is a fiddly practice. It involves precisely guiding a very thin needle into a hair follicle and then burning it out with a jolt of electricity. It’s also a procedure I know I’d have a zero percent chance of sitting still for if someone else was doing it (I jump enough with face lasering). So several hours have been spent numbing down below with emla cream, trying to get as comfy as I can while being hunched over and frying any hair in any areas I was worried about. I was having to battle body, my dysphoria and intense dislike of touching myself, never mind having to pull and move things so I could get the angle right on the needle and my ADHD, which when I’m trying to really concentrate loves to kick in and shut my head down.

It was all probably worth it though because I was told I don’t need any hair removal I nearly cried. The biggest barrier left had been removed. I have plenty of material to work with and I’m fit for surgery. Thanks to work I’m probably the fittest I’ve ever been in my life, which is not really saying much as my fitness levels have always been fairly low between my joint issues and mild asthma.

Anyway, back in my clothes and back in the consultation room, we turn to getting things moving. I have to stop HRT soon (to help minimise the risk of blood clotting and DVT). I only have to stop 4 weeks before surgery because I’m fairly fit and at a low risk anyway. This is a relief as I am dreading the hot flushes that come with HRT withdrawal. I’m awful at thermoregulation at the best of times and very prone to overheating which I often don’t notice) and breaking out in hives.

I could have had a date for surgery at the end of this month because of that. The thing is I kinda had it in my mind it would be longer so I’ve picked something a couple of weeks after that initial date (which funnily enough is now the day I’ll have my pre-surgical consultation). I feel I’ll have enough time to get everything in order, sort out a couple of family birthdays that are coming up and get a couple of other ongoing matters tied up before going in.

At the end I had a piece of paper in my hands with the dates (and a folder of stuff to read on for my next appointment). That was surreal. Physical proof, I could hold and touch, that it is going to happen. And there in the middle of the waiting room I laughed, damn near cried and started bouncing like Tigger and doing my happy dance as that moment hit.

After that things were a bit of a blur. I remember calling Rebecca and giving her the news, and then a couple of trains were involved, and then I was in the car, almost crying again while bouncing because I was so overwhelmed. She’d snuck out and got me a card and cake on the way to collect me as well. She’s the best.

It’s still sinking in now and I’m glad I’ve got the day off tomorrow to process this and start getting a plan together. Well I say getting it together. I have notes and things down already, now it’s just pulling it all together and getting ready.

I’m sure the ‘Oh shit, what am I doing?’ moments will also creep in. I’ve never had an operation in my life and surgery of any kind terrifies me so I’ll have all that to deal with over the next few weeks.

And then the weeks will become days … I can hardly wait 😀

 

 

(Left to right: Me all set for the day, grinning like the Cheshire Cat after my appointment, and the card and cake Rebecca got me).

To Fall In love With Life Again

(CW: mentions of self injury, as well as sex stuff)

Hello everyone, I thought it would be time for an update on life and all that’s been going on. I’m going to be mostly talking about trans stuff, so if there’s any trolls lurking on here who objects to this, don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.

No, seriously, I logged on here a while back and had a comment from someone who called themself an ally but had all the hallmarks of a TERF trying to bitch me out for banging on about trans issues. Funnily enough they never came back after calling them out. But anyway…

The past few weeks I feel like I’ve awakened from a the depths of a long winter. An apt metaphor in a lot of ways because this winter has been the hardest I’ve had for a couple of years in terms of my mental health. Back before Christmas I had finally gotten my second surgical opinion and it then took until the end of March to finally receive that in writing. This basically means I’ve been in limbo for three months because this means the hospital were also waiting for this. Until it was sent out, I could not progress and I find that extremely hard to deal with. Having to make half a dozen phone calls to chase this up while seeing friends go through this state and onto surgical appointments only added to things while I was getting so frustrated by being held back for no appreciable reason I would have meltdowns that ended up with me smacking my head as a result.

What was also not helping was the fact in the meanwhile I had heard there was a very good chance I would not be going to my choice of hospital (Parkside) as there’s evidently a disconnect between Tavistock GIC and Imperial College. Imperial only send people to Parkside if they can’t get people through their place within 18 weeks of referral, while the GIC imply we have free choice regarding which surgeon we want to go with. With all else going on I was at the point where I didn’t give a damn who I saw, I just wanted things done.

Thankfully this has finally been resolved. I got my letter towards the end of March and was pleasantly surprised to get a phone call from Imperial a week later asking if I ‘didn’t mind’ going to Parkside as they had capacity issues at Imperial. Needless to say I said yes to this and another week passed before hearing from Parkside and I’m now two weeks away from my surgical consultation.

The thing that irks me most about all this is the fact after you get your second opinion, it’s good for 12 months. Not 12 months from when they send the letter out, 12 months from the day you’re seen. Thanks to all this mucking about, 4 months of that time has been burned up. I really don’t want to know what the procedure is if 12 months elapsed. It’s just one of so many things that are fucked up with the present system and needs reforming.

Presuming I don’t have any complications I should have everything over and done in the next couple of months and I can focus on just getting on with life now that I feel energised once more. Speaking of which …

It’s the end of a week off from work  for us both here and unlike the last time off we had I feel like we’ve achieved stuff. We have a new sofa for the living room and new side units to go with them so we’ve got more storage for stuff. I also did a spot of minor DIY and repainted and treated the mould in the window bay as well as put some new curtains up.
The back bedroom is organised to a point where I can set up the spare bed and use the room for the aftercare I’ll need to do post op too. It’s probably just as well we spent the holiday doing productive stuff as I fully expect my next chunk of time off work to be recovering from surgery.

Basically because things are finally progressing and I’m getting closer to getting a big thing in my life sorted out I’m feeling more more energised and more able to do stuff and tackle some of the other ongoing stuff that crops up in my mind from time to time.

First off, I finally got a proper hair cut. I know that sounds trivial, but given I’ve spent the last few months flip flopping between styles and not being able to make a decision, it’s a big thing to me. I didn’t want to rush in and regret it later as it’s taken me 4 years to grow my hair out it’s a big deal to me. As you can see I’m over the moon with the results.

 

 

Secondly, I’ve managed to sort out something else that I’ve ummed and ahhed about for a while not. Y’see, you spend all these years trying to live a life that you then find out isn’t you and it all unravels because you figure out you’re trans and then rebuild from there. You get left with all these snippets and not knowing what to do with them, if they’re still a part of you, if they’re still relevant, or just another piece of the shell that you broke out from upon coming out and finally living as your true self and doesn’t belong to you now.

Sex, sexuality and kink are some of these fragments and for the past two years I’ve made a few goes at sitting down and trying to figure them out, only to become rather bewildered and pack them all away, to try again later. Well without going into too much detail, I’ve finally partially figured this out As you many well have noticed lately I’ve taken to wearing collars and chokers once again.

In kink terms wearing a collar indicates you belong to someone, in my case I belong to Rebecca. For me a collar is a symbolic thing. I’ve said from early on she’s got my heart and soul and in wearing one it’s a physical manifestation of this. I feel more secure for doing this, there’s a grounding element to this, form the perspective it’s a reminder that no matter what is going on in my life, she is always there, always protecting me, always loving me for me, and odd as this sounds I feel liberated for doing so. Being able to trust someone enough to confide in this and give myself fully to. I’ve not figured out much else beyond this, but even making this step is more a help than you can imagine. Once again I’m struggling to put things into words, but I’m not struggling, if that makes sense.

Erm, Hurry Up and Wait?

Is that what I do now? Well it fits well with the rest of the transition narrative I suppose, what between the time from referral to first appointment, assessments for HRT and then for surgical opinions. I’m up past the two and a half year mark on that front and still going now I’m onto the next phase of proceedings.

Not going to lie, the past couple of months since my appointment was kicked back has been hard. It’s pretty much been a long, drawn out anxiety attack really. When I’ve had three appointments and two of them have been affected by someone cancelling and rescheduling months down the road I get very anxious that it’ll happen again. Navigating the run up to Christmas is hard enough for me without this extra thing going on in my head.

The week before my appointment was where things got really fun. First off, I get knocked on my back for a full three days with the flu. Secondly the car decides it’s had enough and starts giving up, by way of a massive coolant failure which resulted in the car doing it’s best impression of a kettle. The car, luckily enough we managed to replace, the flu however was reluctant to shift. Well, flu or no flu I was going to London. A meteor strike couldn’t stop me going so a damn stupid virus had no chance.

DRQZ6aSX4AAOLhF.jpg large
(Meet the new car: Includes mod cons such as working heating and stereo)

Anyway, Rebecca and I did our usual, got up, got ready, drove to the station and got the train to London. Thankfully it was an afternoon appointment so no rush hour to deal with and tickets are half what they cost at peak time. Things were going ok until we got to the tube. As you all know I despise the thing. At the best of times I struggle with the noise and closeness. Air quality is another issue. Between my asthma and fairly low lung capacity it doesn’t take much for me to get out of breath at the best of times. Off the back of the flu? It was grim, especially on the Victoria line where I swear the trains are coal powered. The air is so smokey down there it’s alarming. I got so out of breath Rebecca was having to hold me upright while trying to keep herself upright on a horribly jerky train. At some point the jolting does something to my left leg. By the time we get to Baron’s Court I’m wrecked. I had to sit down at the station for 10 minutes trying to get my breath back. A trip up the stairs reveals something in my leg isn’t right. It’s agony trying to bend it. I suspect sciatica, especially how it carried on coming home later.

Things are determined to try and get in my way this day. Even so, we set a new record for turning up to one of our appointments early. We were there three hours early. This sounds insane, but Rebecca and I both hate turning up late to places so allow a silly amount of time for incidents etc. It was something that was hammered home when we got to CHX and registering. Some poor guy who came in just after us had trekked halfway across the country and was 2 hours later for his appointment thanks to a broken down train. Luckily he was able to be seen and got what he needed but even so. The day they finally get a centre opened in Wales so people don’t need to trek all the way from there to London for care can’t come soon enough.

After getting some lunch we return ( I’d gone in and registered earlier on so I could stop panicking that the appointment wasn’t on) and while sitting and waiting we end up having a chat to other people there for appointments. A young trans man and trans woman spot they’re both massive Harry Potter fans and get chatting away in between questions about various experiences we’ve had while transitioning. An older trans woman tells of how her brother’s disowned her over what’s going on. I sit there thinking I’ll miss these moments, chatting, giving people not so far along advice and reassurance about things. I don’t get to think for long as I get called in 10 minutes early for my appointment.

Much like my previous appointment the first 10 minutes is spent catching up on stuff, how things are going, how’s family been, etc. Got asked a couple of questions on how I felt things are going and how long I’d been transitioning for, if I’d had any regrets, etc. The question of grief counselling comes up again after talking about dad again.

Medical history was touched upon. I fill the clinician in on my asthma and medication, get asked the usual questions on drug and alcohol usage (No, and barely drink these days, thank you).

After this we start talking about surgical options. This is pretty brief as I already know what I wanted and had my notebook to hand already. Seeing as I’m going down the penile inversion route talk turns towards that and what’s needed. I was asked if I was circumcised (I’m not). This is good as it’s more material for the surgeon to play with and because of this there’s a good chance hair removal down below is not needed. Once the referral is done and a pre-surgery appointment is completed, hair removal is usually the biggest hold up as there’s not much of a waiting time for the surgery itself at this point.

and various risks and drawbacks that might arise, how depth and sensation can vary (or be non existent), surgical complications such as prolapse or the rare but very nasty one where the bowel gets nicked during the operation and what’s needed to be done about that. Basically there’s a chance this could happen, a fistula forms and bowel fluid gets into your nice new vagina. This results in an operation to isolate the bowel and the need for the use of a colostomy bag while things are repaired and healed. After this, things are reattached and hopefully things will continue as normal. This isn’t a shock to me as I was paying attention back when I attended the orientation lecture a couple of years ago and I’m well aware of possible issues.

Aftercare is also discussed, dilation and generally looking after yourself until you’re ready to go back to work. I learned that I might not have to stop HRT before surgery. Most surgeons get you to stop for six weeks before surgery and wait three week after before going back on it as it helps lessen the chances of blood clotting occurring. Apparently one of the surgeons doesn’t insist on this though, not that I was told which one it was. Interesting to know because I’d rather avoid a menopausal hot flush mess if I can as I’m not that great at regulating body temperature as it is.

I’m asked what surgery would mean to me. For one it means I’d feel comfortable having some level of intimacy with Rebecca because things down there would be right. Peace of mind knowing I won’t ever have to worry about tucking and hoping things aren’t giving the game away ever again. Truthfully, it’s mainly peace of mind, being able to look in the mirror while dressing or undressing and not having a ‘Damn, it’s still there’ moment. I’m pretty happy with what HRT has given me after two years and nothing else gives me any real dysphoria these days.

Swimming was discussed, that classical thing a lot of trans people avoid because of dysphoria, and getting changed. I promptly joke about my terrible swimming ability. I swim like a brick and I get so out of breath after a couple of minutes I usually don’t go again for years.

And after that little ice breaker I get the news I’d been hoping for: My second opinion. It’s like an early Christmas present, and a massive weight is lifted. Talk turns towards where I’d like to go for surgery. I’d decided long ago I was heading for Parkside. If I’m honest I’m not too fussed who gets to work on me: So long as things down below look alright and do what they need to do I’m not even that bothered about the look of the thing. I know this sounds weird and probably blasé too, but that’s me. Parkside got chosen for geographical convenience. Why tramp halfway across the country for something when it can be done 25 miles or so from home?

Thanks to the vagaries of the admin system, Charing Cross GIC can’t make direct referrals to Parkside, only to Nuffied in Brighton, or Imperial College across the road. For Parkside, they go through Imperial and they do the referral. Another vagary is the fact that in spite of the fact the report will be written up the same day, it’ll take six weeks for the GIC to sent the referral out to across the road. basically if I don’t hear anything by March I can start badgering people. Meanwhile, I do have a contact for a nurse at Parkside to discuss things, which I shall do in the new year. I mean, what’s a week or two on that front after all the time I’ve waited thus far.

Anyway, on that note, I hope everyone has a good time over the holidays and hope the new year brings good things to you all xxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

DRezh1KXkAIvHIK

(Once again my wonderful Rebecca’s by my side and being awesome)

Here We Go Again …

Yup, it’s another day and another trip to London, the use of several trains and doing battle with the dreaded, overcrowded and stuffy underground system. This can only mean one thing: Visiting a certain medical centre tucked above a local supermarket in Fulham, otherwise known as Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic. (CHX from here on in)

Yes, I’m back here again, though for myself this time, having been this way recently with Rebecca and Sylvie to get Nadine to her workshop date and later for Rebecca’s consultation. My appointment wasn’t until 2 but I was out the door by 7.30 to meet Rebecca as she’d been dragged into work early and had an appointment of her own earlier in the day. One trip to Watford later and we’re eventually on the way to London After lunch at a cafe I visited the first time I went to CHX, we’re in the waiting room an hour early, because Rebecca and I both like to make sure we get to places early.

2pm rolls around and shortly after we’re sitting in the consultant’s room, and not quite sure what to expect from the day and instantly had a talk about how at future appointments me and Rebecca might not be able to be in the room together as we’re both on the books at CHX and being seen by the same people can potentially cause a conflict of interest. Not how I wanted to start things but anyway.

Today, well yesterday now because I was too wiped out to write last night, was my first opinion for surgery, so this time the questions were a bit different. Less of the history and what not (how did you figure out you’re trans, etc which I’ve written about in past blogs) and more on my frame of mind and weather or not I’m stable, for want of a better word. In a way this was a relief as I’ve been through my history three times now, in other ways not so.

She did ask when I came out, when I transitioned at work and what I do. I was asked to bring some occupational evidence to my next consultation (payslips, etc) as they need evidence on record that you’ve fully transitioned and not just saying you have and are hiding under a rock when you’re at home. Well I’ve kept all my bank, pension and tax stuff for the past 15 years in amongst other things, (much as I’d like to burn all the dead name stuff, I haven’t as it’s too important to destroy), so rounding that up is no issue.

I was asked about my past mental health, bouts of depression and if I self harmed and when. That was fun, given that meant talking about what I did, as well as my suicide attempt when I was 17. I I was asked if I’d had counselling at any point and I did say that I had for when I lost dad and that I do have the odd day when grief hits hard. I was advised that if this got to the point where I was struggling to function that I should seek more counselling for this as I’m at the point where if I was struggling that badly it wasn’t good for my mental health. If I’m honest though, things are getting more manageable on that front with time.

I was asked about my physical health and any medical conditions. Aside from arthritis and my usual issues with my joints and back there’s not too much else to talk about there so I went over what medication I’m on.

I was asked about my hormone medication and how I’ve felt while I’ve been on this, if I’ve had any dips in mood and so on. I was also asked when I last had a blood test (top tip, get a blood test done just before you go to one of these) and my elevated oestrogen level was noticed, as my result from the other week came back as 702, when the top of the healthy range is 600. I’ve got a telephone consultation with my GP this week regarding this, so my consultant was not overly concerned about this, but advised me that this should be back into range before I come back to CHX as being on HRT comes with an elevated risk of blood clotting, thrombosis and so on. I was asked if I smoked as this is a big no-no when on HRT as this raises the risk further. I don’t smoke and hate smoking so that’s not an issue.

Then we started talking about surgery, what I wanted and why. Now I’m still on the fence in regards to what I want surgery wise, but at the moment I said I wanted to go for the full vaginoplasty, because I wanted to have some degree of intimacy that wasn’t instantly destroyed when present arrangements down below got rowdy. I want surgery for peace of mind, to know I’m complete, can get dressed and go out and not worry about tucking and so on.

With that we talked a bit more about what surgery entailed, the need to dilate and so on. All stuff I knew already having seen so many trans friends go through this and talk about the aftercare and whatnot. I was also asked about what support I’d have post surgery, who would look after me while I recovered, which would be mainly Rebecca, though I did joke that fair’s fair and I’ll be doing the same for her one day when it’s her turn to go through all this. We did also discuss about the physical prerequisites for surgery, namely having a BMI under 28/ waistline that’s less than 100cm. To he honest, unless something drastic happens, this won’t be an issue for me and she agreed.

After that, I was given some leaflets and information, a couple of people to contact regarding surgery questions and electrolysis, not that I know if I need hair removal down below yet, and then given the all clear. She was happy I was stable and suitable for surgery and all I need now is a second opinion to back this up.

Relieved, Rebecca and I went back to the waiting room and tried not to melt while waiting for my letter for my next appointment to be prepared. We joked with the receptionist there must be an NHS directive that all their buildings must be heated up to 50C or so. A few minutes later, I had my letter, which I promptly scribbled a note to future me regarding the payslips and stuff I’d need to bring with me.

With that, I wait till October the 31st, appropriate for me as that’s the end of the Pagan year and both me and Rebecca noticed that. All I need to do is keep doing what I’m doing, do regular blood tests and get my oestrogen level back into range. Aside from that I can do some reading and research, make use of the contacts I was given and get on with life until then.

Oh well, what’s a blog without some pics of the day? Enjoy 🙂

(Yeah, I went for a gothic witch look, it’s been a while and it was a nice day for a skirt)

(And a huge thanks to my beautiful Rebecca, who’s always at my side. I swear next time we’re here it’ll be for you darling.)

A Grand Old Mess.

Well today is going quite grand as I now have a crying and upset Rebecca to try and settle.

Why is this?

Her GP. The thing is they’ve been wanting to see her about some issue or other, which we think is in relation to a letter both she and they have received from Charing X GIC regarding her self medicating on hormones.

The GP phoned yesterday and wanted to do a telephone consultation with her next week. Knowing this wouldn’t work I made arrangements to see the GP today so I could be there with Rebecca and give her some moral support while we sort out this mystery issue (as we’ve received no actual confirmation from the GP what this is all about). Doctors stress Rebecca out at the best of times given she’s had a slew of rough experiences in the past with them over a number of issues, so she’s been pretty on edge since yesterday.

(Rebecca: I’ve had so many care failures and obstacles before that I am disheartened and now even afraid to go to the GP. It took so much and the help of my Chrissy to just simply go and say “Hello I have a problem”. I am so distraught with it all.)

Just as we were about to head off out the door we get a call from the surgery. They’ve cancelled the appointment as the GP isn’t sure if he can sort out this issue in a 10 minute slot. I explain to them how stressed out Rebecca is over all this and why I need to be there with her. They insist they can’t sort things out today and insist on an evening appointment a little over a week away as this will be the first chance me and Rebecca will both be off work together. With all this going on I now have Rebecca in one arm sobbing her heart out and the phone in the other.

This illustrates a larger problem though, namely the detrimental effect on the mental health of so many transgender people who have to wait a ridiculous amount of time to get any support with transitioning due to the increasingly ass backwards setup we have in this country.

Most trans people have spent years dealing with their inner demons and finally deciding to speak up and ask for medical help with transitioning. To be told it’ll be at least a year for any initial consultation, several months to a year for a second opinion before they’ll think of dispensing hormones puts an incalculable amount of stress upon individuals. Add in the fact the total crap-shoot that is the process of obtaining a bridging prescription, dependant on weather your GP feels competent enough to monitor your levels or not and it’s no wonder so many trans people take matters into their own hands, as my partner has.

(Rebecca: It is not fun for your partner, who can’t stand needles anyway, to watch you on a Sunday night sticking a needle in your backside as you perform your own intramuscular injections or taking medication that’s actually for people who have heart disease in quantities that should kill you. And this isn’t just about getting a girly look. This is to improve my mental health and stability so I can function as a normal person. Or as normal as it gets when you’re transgender in a society that shuns and ridicules you for trying to live.)

If that’s not enough, when you finally see a GP, they pass on the info surrounding your self medication record to the GIC. They then send out a shitty and condescending letter on how dangerous it is taking matters into your own hands, as Rebecca has had recently instead of offering any meaningful advice or solutions. This is not on.

We KNOW the risks. We also know what hormone levels are ideal for the results we want to achieve with this and know it’s a simple case of frequent blood monitoring and either upping or lowering dosages until they sit right, and then routine monitoring to ensure they stay that way. It’s not hard. Most of us trans people feel capable of doing this, so why not your average GP, who has to do the EXACT SAME procedure with most other long term medication? Do you really think we WANT to go it alone on this? Do you think we do this for a laugh? No!

(Rebecca: All I need is my blood tests so I can manage my medication. Ideally I would be on “official” HRT as well and doing the same thing anyway. How will I know that I have to much potassium or to much oestrogen, if I can’t have bi weekly or monthly blood tests so I can regulate what amounts to quite deadly substances entering my body? I have already had an incident where my oestrogen was 4600 and I had to stop for 7 weeks to let it all drain out and start again. And even now I am cautious and deliberately missed this weeks dose because I don’t know what’s in my system and the doctor wouldn’t give me a batch of blood tests to find out. We need to be able to have small gender clinics in every town so we can just go and at least start and have the facilities to just have tests ordered or done. A blood test will not kill anyone.)
If we had a modern system where we can gain access to care in a reasonable time we wouldn’t be having such issues on  routine basis and my girl wouldn’t be in the sobbing mess she is right now. Needless to say I am very angry with the whole thing right now. All we want is to be able to feel comfortable in our own bodies. That’s all it is. It’s not a mystery. We’re fully informed and aware of the consequences of pursuing this course of treatment and we go into this with our eyes wide open and until the powers that be get their heads out of their asses and stop all this gate-keeping nonsense, what played out today and even worse scenarios are going to keep on happening.

The Promised Land?

Well maybe not but today does bring me one step closer to what I want and need to do for myself to feel right in my own body. It’s been thirteen months but today I finally had my first appointment at Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic (GIC as I can’t be arsed to keep typing that out).

I suppose that unless you’ve been living on the moon you know how ridiculously long it takes for transgender people to get access to facilities and care they need to sort themselves out and feel right in their own bodies. I should have gone in April but had the appointment cancelled by them 4 days beforehand. Given I have anxiety issues anyway with important meetings and appointments being whipped away at the last minute after looking forward to them, this was not good for me. It also resulted in me spending the past few days in a high state of anxiety hoping it didn’t happen again and resulted in me being wide awake and messing around on Twitter at 5am. I really wasn’t too bothered about the appointment itself, having been through this all before last year, it was the getting there and making sure I got there which was getting at me. Sounds a bit daft but that’s me really.

Figuring out what to wear was easy really. I was riding the scooter to the station so that meant jeans and whatever top I fancied wearing on the day. I went with something simple yet appropriate without drawing too much attention to myself. I also decided to wear my Pride necklace in light of the horrible goings on in Orlando. People should not be gunned down because of who they love and this world is a fucked up place if those in power do nothing to prevent future tragedies.

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Anyway, I went and did my now familiar routine of bike, train and tube to where I need to go, having done several runs to go see family down south among other things lately. If I ever get a job which requires commuting to London during rush hour, section me. I hate crowds and noise, I hate the underground at the best of times but the underground at 9am is a special hell for me. I had to wait for three trains before I could actually get on one as they were that packed. I’m not too hot on going down those escalators that look like they’re half a mile high from the top either.

Anyway, one mild panic attack later I get to Baron’s Court and wander over to the clinic. Thanks to my usual trick of factoring way too much time to get to places I’m an hour early. Thankfully I remembered to pack The Long Utopia to read while I’m waiting and having updated a couple of minor details for their records. Interestingly they’ve got a new I.T system which they had installed the day before and are getting used to. Weather this is a good or bad thing long term I don’t know.

Anyway 11am comes and I’m called in, having calmed myself down and knowing I’m not going to be stood up at the last moment.

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(Yup, my usual sunglasses/MP3 combo to block out the hectic world when I’m out and about on my own)

I’m immediately wrong-footed as I’m introduced to someone else instead of the gentleman who was meant to be seeing me (he was ill) but we soon got down to things.

Now most people who get to my stage go for an initial assessment. There’s two of them, done by two separate people to get two opinions before we get around to goodies such as hormones, speech therapy etc. I’ve already done this through my going through the private road, so the first five minutes or so I was explaining what I had done and arranging to have all my appointment notes copied as they didn’t have them on record here, though I’m sure I was told they would have been sent over. Glad I brought my black folder full of everything I’ve done to date transition wise.

With that out the way and having rather wrong footed the lovely lady who was seeing me with all this, we got on with things. I was asked pretty much the same questions Dr Lorimer did last year, questions about my dysphoria, growing up, puberty, how I came to realise I was trans and so on, as well as family history, what support I had and what experience I had socially to date.

This was useful in a way as I was able to discuss what went on since Dr Lorimer saw me and how that’s affected things. Things like how going into my new job as me has been a liberating experience and how everything that has changed has been for the better.

After all this was written down I was asked about what I wanted from the GIC, as they offer voice coaching, counselling, hormones and endocrinology, a limited degree of facial hair removal as well as surgery. I’ve gotten right to the point and said all I need is gender reassignment surgery. I discussed with her about how I’ve feminised my voice on my own, how far I’ve gotten with facial hair removal on my own (I know I’m too far along with that to qualify for any funding assistance anyway), and thanks to my discussion earlier, mentally I’m in a far better place now having figured out who I am and what I need to do. As for hormones, again that’s all set up and I have a GP who is competent with monitoring and knows what to do and who to contact if he needs advice. I literally just need my bits sorting out, which is the one thing I can’t do myself.

With that in mind I was asked what I wanted done down there. I want things to be as fully functional as they can get and I stated as such. She went a bit more into asking me how much my bits bother me and I told her I’m at a point where aside from handling the damn thing so I can wash it properly I want nothing to do with them. I want them gone and I have to remind myself every time I shower I have to wash those bits to keep them clean and healthy as I don’t want any complications arising from infections or scarring affecting what I want done.

By then we were pretty well at the end of our appointment and discussing what happens next. Usually you book a second appointment, with a different consultant and pretty much go through the same thing again as they need two opinions before giving you access to the treatments you need. With me and having just had my two previous assessments photocopied for their records it’s a bit different. When I go back I’ll likely be asked more abut surgery and what I want as by then I’d have been full time as me and on hormones for over a year and having done everything else I need or want to do the only thing they can help me out with is the surgical aspect of my transition. This could well count as my first opinion for surgery as well, though no promises were made on this. If I’m honest I can’t see why not as I’ve jumped through every other hoop and gate they ask of us.

All in all a pretty good result, only tempered slightly by the fact my next appointment is not till February next year, which sucks and highlights why we desperately need more capacity in the system to speed things up a bit. I will also note on my appointment letters it states that they have issues with a high number of patients making appointments and then not turning up or cancelling them and while waiting for my confirmation letter I overheard the reception staff lament about how 3 patients hadn’t turned up this morning alone.

With letter In hand I was all set to go. After a first appointment they usually send you off to get a blood test done to get a baseline as part of their procedures. Yup, I mucked that up as well thanks to coming in armed with the blood results from last month I have done to monitor my hormone levels. It was agreed that I should continue with three monthly monitoring of these and get a set of results done as close to my next appointment as I can.

Moral of today’s tale: Don’t wait around for the clinic. If you can do things yourself, do them. It saves time in the long run. Bring all your notes and results too. Basically be proactive as you can with things.

Now with that out of the way I one more thing to do before I came home. Sarah, a friend of mine on Facebook has just had her surgery at Charing Cross Hospital, so as I’m there myself how could I not drop in to say hello, congratulations and give her a card and a hug for getting there? She’s very happy with things, especially having had a bit of a rough journey getting there, recovering well and was full of praise for her care at the hands of the staff at the hospital, which is great to hear as I’ve not heard too much about the Charing Cross team and had been considering going there myself for geographical convenience when it’s my time to dance.

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Blowing Away The Cobwebs

*Blows away the cobwebs* It’s been a while since I’ve been on here hasn’t it?  That wasn’t my intention but things have happened, a lot of things and some huge changes to my personal life. I’m not going to go into too much detail on that front because there’s some things I’d rather keep private for now but those who know me already know what’s gone on. Let’s just say I now find myself two counties away from where I was and this has brought some twists to my transition journey, so a progress report of sorts is today’s subject.

First off I’m another year older now though the jury’s out as to weather or not I’m any wiser. I’ve also passed the year mark on this journey on the 27th April. Cake, a glass of wine and a celebratory takeaway were the order of the day with my girlfriend Rebecca, who I’ve moved in with. She’s helped me so much in more ways than I can describe over the past few months and I love her with all my heart.

9th April saw me taking my scooter for it’s first ride after moving up to Hertfordshire to go see Dr Seal for my follow up appointment. Now this was surprisingly brief, about 15 minutes at most. It would have been longer but I was hampered by Medway losing my blood test results I did while I was still living there.

I had been asked to get tests done for oestrogen, testosterone and prolactin levels in my blood as well as a liver function test as this was needed for Dr Seal to get a baseline and adjust my medication if needed, but had to be doe eight weeks after going onto my testosterone blocker. I did this and had enough time to get the results without worrying. Trouble is Medway for whatever reason lost everything except my liver function test (which came back as working fine for once) and so he was unable to made any adjustments to that. Other than that, he was satisfied with my progress, everything that’s meant to be growing is doing so, as is the bits that are shrinking, which is great.

Blood pressure’s fallen to 105/60 from 125/60, which is excellent news and my weight has remained unchanged which is also good. That aside, I was due to have my first appointment at Charing Cross GIC a few days later but they cancelled due to the guy not being there the day I was due in. That’s now been kicked back to June 15th, though I wonder just what I’m going to be doing there as what usually goes on in your first appointment at the GIC I’ve already gone through. In fact by the time I get there I’d have been on some form of HRT or other for almost a year, I don’t feel the need to go for voice coaching as I have that in hand myself and I’d have been living as me full time for almost a year then as well with very little bother. I’ll take my folder full of medical notes and whatnot just in case and basically tell what I still need to do, which is basically have my bits turned inside out. For some reason, this is something I can’t do myself.

Of course moving as I have means a change of GP, something I did have some anxiety over having heard all sorts of daft stories concerning GP’s who haven’t a clue how to treat trans people and having had to help a few trans women with advice and guidelines so they can educate their GP’s and get the help that they need.  Now I had been quite lucky in that when I went to my GP to get referred he knew exactly what to do, having had some previous experience. What would my new GP be like?

I signed up to a practice down the road and is much quieter than my old GP in Medway. A couple of weeks later I made arrangements to see the nurse to have my next Decapeptyl injection done, my  testosterone blocker which has helped me no end since being on it. I see the nurse and end up having a natter about my history, some questions regarding my health before administering the injection. Turns out she’s had experience with my medication and had a trans patient at her previous surgery.

A few days later I was back to see the GP to get my blood tests redone. Again, we had a brief discussion regarding my health, a quick flick through my medical notes I brought in just in case and he sorts out the blood test form. He also discussed my present medication and the way he was talking about them it sounds like he too has had experience with trans patients as well. He also talked me through the on-line services his surgery has so I can make appointments on-line, view my medical history and he even set up a repeat prescription for my meds so all I need to do is order on-line or call them two weeks before I run out and they’ll sort everything out. This is brilliant, what more can I ask or hope for?

Lately I seem to have had a growth spurt lately. Usually when I have a growth spurt it goes to my chest. This time it’s gone elsewhere. Without saying too much, I’ve had a few comments from Rebecca on how my legs and bum really fill out my jeans now, which goes a long way to explain why they’re feeling a bit snug now.

Finally, I need to get back onto the hair removal front. Hrt is having an effect and I’ve noticed body hair slowing down and coming back a bit thinner, but that’s now being aided by an epilator. Not the most comfortable ways of dealing with it, but I get a nice result which lasts a little while. I also need to get back to the lasering sessions. It’s been two months since my last session and with the recent spell of sunshine we had I need to be very careful with this and avoid getting my face tanned as this can make lasering less effective on top of my usual issues I have with hot and sunny weather, namely the fact I burn in minutes, I’m almost blind without sunglasses because I can’t cope with bright light and I quickly overheat because my body’s lousy at keeping cool in this kind of weather. Time to break out the sun hat I think.

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Time Waits For No Trans

Well after a couple of weeks of kicking my heels and generally getting wound up and anxious about it I finally got to see my GP yesterday to discuss getting my blockers organised and my treatment plan in general.  Things got off to their usual start, namely me getting there 10 minutes early, because I hate being late for things, and then being seen 20 minutes late, all great for my anxiety. I was genuinely worried about my GP being awkward about my hormone therapy and with good reason having read enough horror stories about GP’s who have been unhelpful or deliberately obstructive for one reason or another.

Time dragged on while I was in the waiting room and now clock watching as I’m aware I had a double appointment and getting closer to my safe margin time wise for getting to work. Finally I get called in and asked why I was there, so I explained briefly about being trans and my recent appointment with Dr Seal. My GP then took a copy of my report and had a read through and asked a few questions.

One was about my voice of all things and if I was hoping my new meds would do something about it (There was a note in my report about me being unhappy about my voice. I’m happy with it. just struggling with Richard and his deafness). I calmly explain that my voice change is down to hard work and not hormones, wishing we’d get onto what I wanted to talk about. A second question was regarding my old meds that I’d been taking and if I was still on them. I don’t need them as I’m on the right stuff now so no. A third was if I wanted surgery. That’s a hell yes but that’s stated in the report so why even ask that?

Eventually we get to the part about my meds and what I need to do. I can see she’s unsure so I’ve talked her through what I’m taking, what it does and will do. I ask her if I can get a repeat prescription when needed as my Progynova will run out before my follow up with Dr Seal. Again she’s unsure but I reiterate I’m having follow ups with Dr Seal so all the monitoring is done at his end as well as the fact that bridging prescriptions are a thing due to the fact there’s a year long waiting list for Charing X CIG to get on with things. She finally agrees and write out a prescription for the Cyproterone Acetate, which I will need to take for the first two weeks alongside the Decapeptyl to counteract what the testosterone surge will otherwise do to me.

By now I’m a relieved and trembling giddy wreck. I get this way when something that has would the anxiety up suddenly goes and my mind kinda crashes in a way and I struggle to do anything functional, much less argue my case regarding things. As a result she’s now asking me about the fact I still have a male marker on my patient records and thinks that this would be best kept as it’ll mean not being bothered by invites for cervical smears and mammograms. On reflection, now I’ve had a day and a chat to a couple of trans friends, I wish I’d got that changed, but that’s a battle for another day. I’m now getting quite close to having to get to work and I’ve now been told I need to get my prescriptions up to the chemist so I can pick meds up and arrange a trip to see the nurse.

I get to the chemist and put them in. Then we have a problem. Because my Decapeptyl was written as a private prescription it’ll have to be put through as such and that’s a £300 hit I really can’t be doing with right now. I explain to the chemist the only reason I’ve gone private is because of the NHS missing their 18 week target for referrals. They phone the head practitioner at my GP but no dice and out of time and out of spoons to keep me going I reluctantly agree and arrange to come back Monday to pick up meds and fork over a small fortune I had intended to go on my final laser sessions.

I’m now aware I’m going to be late for work. As a result I drove the bike there that in motorbike racing parlance would describe as ‘Riding it like I stole it’. Mercifully i get to work dead on time and right into a 1-1 with my manager regarding work and how to help support me with things as I’ve been struggling lately. That boiled down to me taking things at a slower pace, take more breaks if needed, reach out to people if I am struggling and try not to take too much on at once. They might have even torn up the original prescription and written their own as they’ve just agreed to do repeats for me anyway. Big weight off of my chest and purse and I promptly book a nurses’s appointment. Annoyingly the earliest they have is 12th February so that’s what I’ve got. I have everything organised and dates to aim at. That knocks out my anxiety for a while.

While at work today and giving my phone a long overdue clear out I stumbled across something I downloaded in September which I could have done with remembering regarding registering my change of details with my GP and what I said about earlier. Oh well, it’s there for when I do sort things out. It’s below for anyone who needs it.

Advice Process for changing name and gender in Primary Care

 

D-Day?

Or should that be E-Day? Yes, I think it should. Well after several months of ticking down months, then weeks, then days and dealing with the associated anxiety that came with it today was the day. The day I go find out if I can get myself onto hormones. I’ve been self medicating for six months now, using the pill they give women to stop them falling pregnant as this could be obtained from a pharmacist rather than take my chances on the internet. It isn’t perfect and does nothing to block testosterone, but it was a start. I was slowly developing a feminine figure and happy with what I was seeing, but it was a stop-gap measure. I am fully aware it’s not good in the long run, hence booking an appointment to see an endocrinologist privately and get things organised instead of waiting who knows how long for the NHS.

Before I go any futher, I’m going to point out I’m not going to sugar coat or hold back here. There’s plenty of talk about sexual function and nudity, stuff that can be dysphoria triggering and talk of depression and self harming. Don’t say i didn’t warn you, and as a friend of mine says; “Transition isn’t all tits and rainbows”.
I’ve been worrying like hell about today, going through so many what-ifs and reasons why things might not go to plan and having to deal with bouts of anxiety that at times threatened to cripple and overwhelm me these past couple of weeks. Anyway, 9.30am rolled around and so hubbie and I got into the car, complete with my folder containing all the information, consultations and test results from my transition and headed on up to Enfield to the King’s Oak hospital and my appointment with Dr Seal at 11.45, with the usual battle between my music (which I use to relax in the car as long distance travel and travelling at speed can both set my anxiety off) and Richard trying to listen to the brand new sat-nav he bought the day before to make sure we got there OK and in time.

A couple of bouts of road rage on his part and me trying to be irreverent and funny on Twitter later we get there a full hour early. That’s part down to me despising being late for anything and getting highly wound up if I am late and partly because I know the M25  and Dartford too well to not factor in long and ludicrous delays. Still, that gave us time to have a drink and time enough for my anxiety to continue to play merry hell. If that weren’t enough, Richard had one of his chest seizures in the waiting room and I spent 10 minutes supporting him and reassuring everyone that everything will be OK in a minute. Horrible timing, but not his fault and not much he can do about them and all I can really do is stop him smashing his head up.

Anyway, that extra and unwanted drama sorted out I get called and we go in to see Dr Seal, where he explains what’s going to happen, that he’s going to ask questions and a bit later on he’s going to take some measurements,  examine my breasts and my genitalia. Eep! I had an idea that might be happening today and I thank my lucky stars I had a good trim down there and that I hadn’t overdone the Christmas eating this year.

But first the questions, oh so many questions. I was asked about my birth and early life, if there were any complications at birth and my development. I was born just fine, if rather late and as for my development, that was fraught at times, between having ADHD and being pretty slow learning to talk.

Once again I was asked about my earliest memories of gender dysphoria and I recalled how I wanted to be called Chrissy when I was 8 among other things that pointed towards things not being quite right. I got asked about when I started wearing women’s clothing, which started with me borrowing sisters stuff, getting girly stuff from charity shops as a late teen and then introducing dressing up a couple of years into my relationship with Richard and how I felt good wearing what I wore and felt awful havijg to take everything off and soon learning it wasn’t a sexual thing going on there. Family history was next and I was asked if any one else in the family who were homosexual/ bisexual or had a history of being transgender/sexual.

Next came questions about puberty, how it went, how I felt and so on, so I went into some depth about feeling very awkward about my body, hating my body image and things I did to lessen those feelings, such as getting rid of my body hair as well as being asked how my body developed, including asking if  had any breast development then. Sadly no, all that happened was a lot of hair appeared and I went from a short and stubby fatso with a 30″ waist to being 5’10” and having the same waistline.

My mental health was discussed and if I had any depression or history of mental illness, always a fun topic, especially being asked to recount if I self harmed, how I did it, if I tried to take my own life and how I went about that. I won’t go into too much detail here, I’ll just say I’m lucky that I’m still here, didn’t do more damage than I have done when I used to self harm, though I also recalled how the black cloud that’s sat at the back of my mind most of my life disappeared once I came out.

I then got a load of questions on how I eventually came to the decision I made and came out as being transgender, so I described how I felt when I used to dress up for fun and felt awful when I had to take the ladies clothes of afterwards, how I eventually got clued up on things and spent a couple of years wondering if I was genderfluid before sinking into a real hole this time last year because I finally worked out I was trans and didn’t know how the hell to tell Richard. We discussed if Richard had been supportive, leaving aside the fact he’s just driven me to my appointment and helped me get through some of what I’ve been asked,  described how he’d wait for me by the door with my clothes when I wasn’t out at work and he’d shoo me upstairs to get changed and feel happy, among other things he’s done, as well as discussing how I came out to him. Family support was discussed, how I came out to them. Richard had to tell them because I’d worked myself up into an anxious and non-verbal mess that day, and we described how dad and his mum had both said it was about time I did this and how awesome mum’s been throughout. I described how much of a help being on Twitter has been, how we all chat to one another, giving advice and being supportive to one another and generally how awesome you all are 🙂

I also described the time after I came out to family but before I got work sored out, how I was living a double life, how Richard supported me with dealing with that and discussed how I eventually came out and how the work transition was handled.
I was then asked about relationships, how many partners I’ve had and my own sexuality and sexual function. That’s pretty simple. I’ve only had three or four serious relationships with guys and a couple of platonic ones with women. As for sexual function, Richard was very helpful with helping describe how I’ve found intimacy awkward for a long while, years before I came out and how he thought something had been up but wasn’t sure but now he looks back everything made sense now, as well me basically saying I don’t want any sexual function down there, I just want the damn thing gone.

So that’s the psychoanalysis pretty much done and over, now for the physical part of the exam. I was asked what procedures I was looking at having, the only one being getting my bits turned inside out and then my weight, height and blood pressure were taken, all normal. Then I was asked to go behind a screen and get into a surgical robe while a female chaperone was called in. That was new and weird. I did ask if it was OK to just have Richard there but for legal reasons a chaperone had to be present. With that done I lay down on the bed and had my breasts checked over, including being shown how to check them for breast cancer. Again something new and something I wasn’t expecting today but nice to know how now. Then the other bits got looked at. Needless to say I felt terrible when this was being done given I hate touching those parts myself, never mind anyone else doing it. I just closed my eyes and tried to take my mind elsewhere. A couple of minutes later I was told I could get changed and oh by the way you won’t need electrolysis down there, which I found surprising and we’ll see if that still holds up in the future.

After all that excitement and being dressed and sat down again, then came the question. “Would you like some oestrogen?” Best question I’ve had asked in a very long time. We discussed ostrogen and was prescribed Progynova, which I can get myself with a prescription, and Decapeptyl, which is the testosterone blocker and is a 12 weekly injection, and which I can sort out once my GP gets the confirmation letter from Dr Seal. Aside from that I was advised to get a blood test done in 8 weeks time and make a follow up appointment in three months time to review things and possibly increase my dosage if things go well.

In short, today went as well as it could have done, though I couldn’t have done it without Richard at my side and helping me along when I needed it. I know this is tough as hell for him and I hate putting him through all this, but he really is my rock and I am so glad he’s sticking around for this journey. We drove back home, dodging a series of suicidal drivers on the now wet M25 and celebrated in style: A trip to the chippy and a pint of Hobgoblin apiece.