Friday, 30 April 2010

A little information can make all the difference...

Tuesday this week there was an information evening at the VU on the treatment process for MtF transexuals.  It covered a few topics from diagnosis, RLE and hormones, hair removal to surgury.

The first topic was by for the most useful to me as I have been quite scared by the diagnosis process.  They didn't go into extreme detail, but gave enough to put my mind at rest.  They are not there to catch you out and send you packing, they are there to help you live your life in the best way.

As far as whether they would recommend the RLE stage I was suprised at just how many criteria they use.  As well as the basic diagnosis they look at the level of dysphoria associated *and* how strong the person is.  As the psychologist said there is no point in leading someone through the whole process if you are going to turn agrophobic as you are too afraid to leave the house.  I can see that.

The hormone discussion was also quite useful.  What to expect, what not to expect, how long to give the hormones to do there job before looking at other options.  What is realistic and what you have to put up with, and what you can expect longer term.

As he pointed out full body hair removal is not covered as they take the view that women also have to shave their legs, and to give the hormones a chance to reduce body hair growth (he admitted the amount of reduction differs per person, and per hair growth to begin with) before spending a lot of money on other methods.

He also gave an explaination of what hormones are and how they work, and gave a circuit diagram for a small section of the human hormonal machine.  Christ it's complex!

After the break they started with hair removal.  Exactly how it works and why skin colour and hair colour is important.  The technical difference between laser and IPL and again what to expect, and again what is realistic.  I have to say whether I transition or not I want to have this on my face - Mrs Stace is not so keen on me doing this as she thinks it'll femanise me too much if I am living as a man.  Something to think about.

Finally surgury.  Both GRS and breast augmentation.  Again what to expect, what not to expect, the limitations of possiblilities etc.  I think that one of the best things that the surgeon went through there were the dangers.  What can go wrong, along with quite graphic examples.  What the main danger is with the operation (damage to the bowel).

All in all the evening was full of very useful information - I'm pleased that I went.

However...  And this may be contraversial...

I am me.  When dressed as a man or a woman.  Always me.  I don't put on a show when dressed.  As I put to a friend in an email:

With the girls online I feel very much at home, and very much part of a group of inteligent, grown up, rational women who know *who* they are.  We all have our crisis', and we all offer support to each other.  But what always remains is *our* personality.  We do not perform for the crowd, so to say.

That was not the case at the VU.  There were a lot of people there.  Most people, like me, faded into the background (my natural state).  However there was a very vocal, loud and, err, flamboyant group that played into the media stereotype of what a transexual woman is.  They were trying so hard to prove to the world that they acted as women act that I am sure I did not see a trace of personality.  Clothes that would not be out of place in a town center at 3am on a Saturday morning (I may sound like a boring prude here, but this was supposed to be an open, inclusive evening for transexuals and their *families and friends* - and as such I think that little decorum in the dressing department would not have gone amiss).

I hate to say it, but I did not feel comfortable around this stereotype - it's not who or what I am.  Poor Mrs Stace was also a little less than comfortable.  I feel really guilty for thinking that and for feeling uncomfortable - but it kind of just lent weight to the worst that people think about trans people.  Sorry...

But that was a small part of the evening.  Once the speakers started there were only three people in the room.  me, Mrs Stace sitting next to me and the speaker.  I'm much less afaid of the screening and diagnosis phase of the process now, which can only be a good thing.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Doing better...

Well I'm doing so much better this week than I was when I last posted.  So much so I can't recognise how I felt then.

Is that bi-polar, or just a sign that I've started to come to terms with things?

Since my last post I have been dressed each evening it was possible to do so (Tuesdays / Wednesdays are out as we go out those days - but Thursday and Friday were both spent dressed).  The difference in myself is amazing.  I was trying to explain it to Jenny in an email and struggles somewhat.  It's not that I relax when dressed, but that I feel like me and so the anxiety drops away somewhat.  Even though the fears and worries about the future remain, and are just as strong the anxiety level makes the difference.

I was speaking to my boss about this yesterday - I had an update meeting with him to explain how things were going and that I had had a very tough time of it recently. He said he understood why being dressed did me so much good - there is a rather large picture of him in the hallway dressed as a hooker from a previous office fancy dress party.  he said if you look at the photo you can tell he is not comfortable (to be fair neither would I be in that outfit) and it makes perfect sense that if you reverse the scenario to me that I am not comfortable wearing my daily clothes.  He has a good insight that man I think.  Better than me - I don't get how getting dressed can make such a difference.

Mrs Stace has been great with the dressing, I offered to remain in boy mode again last night, but she told me to change.  And did my eyes again.  I am not sure if she is getting used to it, but she is trying her hardest.

I asked her what made the change from not wanting me dressed a lot to advising it when possible.  She said it was the suicidal thoughts.  Slightly guilty feelings there as I did not tell her for that reason. But I can't deny it's helped.

The other thing that has helped is me accepting my situation.  I was planning to go into therapy at the VU fighting transition at all costs.  That is also where a lot of anxiety has been over the last few weeks.  I've now decided that I have to go into it open minded.  Not going in expecting transition, but not going in fighting it either.  That has also removed a lot of anxiety.  Introduced an amount of fear, but fear without anxiety if that makes any sense.  I feel much more serene now.

There are logistical issues that go with the dressing each night.  We live in a terrace house - overlooked on all sides.  Ergo, if I am dressed we have to close the curtains.  And when we forgot to pick milk up on Thursday and found out after I was dressed (and had makeup on) Mrs Stace was the one who needed to not only go and pick it up, but also take over my role of fighting the junk in the shed to get my bike out (her's is buried deeper).  I would have happily got it for her but then my secret would have been more than a little out.

Another issue is panda eyes.  I got up on Friday morning, had a shower and still had panda eyes from the mascara of the night before.  I'm glad Mrs Stace was there to check when it was gone (the light in the mirror is not the best) otherwise I would have had some explaining to do...

Have a good weekend all - I'm off for my 18km skate now :).  Just beleive me that I am doing better now.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Tough times...

Not a good post today I'm afraid. I'm trying to work through several issues, and figure out where on earth I am supposed to go with them.

In my last post I said I had highs, lows, pain and fun. I pretty much covered the three of the four (and incedently still in a little pain from the run...)

The lows I haven't really touched.

The last month of so has been really bad, GD wise. I can't concentrate, have been back on the valdispeert, my anxiety has peaked again. My work has suffered, and my life outside work has been affected.

Things have really gone south this week. Saturday I could not concentrate on *anything* except the constant anxiety over my GD. I am a telly addict to a degree. I like Saturday nights on BBC 1 (Total Wipeout, Doctor Who, Over the Rainbow) I don't remember anything about the first, the only thing I remember about the second is that it was not the strongest episode I have seen, and the third I just could not get into. I was just totaly inside myself.

Sunday was not too bad, thankfully. The run put the thoughts out of my head somewhat for most of the day and then I got changed when I got home and found peace. I was me. For the whole evening. Not just with the clothes, but totally - I find it hard to explain. But it was the firs time in a while I had shaken the anxiety.

Then that night I felt really guilty about only being anxiety free in that situation - it doesn't bode well for being able to cope now does it. Monday was a nightmare day. Couldn't think about anything, went for lunch with the colleague that I told recently to talk about it more. He would make a great psycologist... However, it brought the thoughts of the night before to the front again. I spent the evening in anxiety mode again, only this time the pills did little to control the physical side of the anxiety. I felt I really needed to dress again and shoot for the same feeling I had Sunday night, but I didn't want to take Mrs Stace's husband away for the second time in two days.

She told to get changed anway if it would help, but then I remember I had to clean the rabbit, and I wasn't going to go into the garden dressed.

That night I told her of my thoughts about not sure how I am going to be able to cope. Neither of us slept well. Me worse than her and at 3am I went to the spare room so as not to disturb her any more.

Tuesday was an absolute zombie day. Not being able to think, and being totally exhausted.

Yesterday went pretty much the same.

Then Mrs Stace told me about something her colleague said regarding regarding death. And I ended up telling her the suicidal thoughts that I have had over the years, many years, since before I was twenty.

Now, I have never *seriously* considered it - I don't want anybody to worry - but standing at train stations I have thought about how a quick jump would stop the constant issues in my head. Or when driving over high bridges etc etc.

After I told her I cried a little - something I can't do very often. I feel that my life is good, if you take a way the GD. But if I feel life is so good why on earth would I work out the best way to end it? And when I go for my first appointment at the VU (that I *hope* to arrange within the next week or two) how on earth is the phychiatrist going to react to that. I can't hide it from them oibviously, but it doesn't sound particularly sane in my head.

I have to say, telling Mrs Stace last night helped a lot. And I do feel better today than I did the last few days.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Interesting weekend

I had a very strange weekend.  Highs, lows, pain and fun...

But for now I'll concentrate on the good side, with a little pain thrown in for good measure.

I managed to complete my 5km run in a respectable 23:58 minutes, placing me in the top 10% at 53rd out of 625.  But still not the fastest of my team, bah.  It was really hard running with blazing sun and high temperatures (it was the first decent day of the year over here) and in Hilversum there are...  Hills.  That's not how it got it's name though - that's just coincidence.  In Holland that's a little of a rarity, and where I train there is nothing like the hills that are here.  Aiming for a BPM of 170(ish), I actually managed 177 average overall.

About 200m from the end someone from my team came past me, I got a little competitive and decided that I wasn't going to come second without a fight and put on a spurt to keep up.  Then with 150m left I decided to finish on a sprint (198bpm), got a mention from the comentator that I looked like I could do a second lap (no I couldn't), and crossed the line just as I was getting dizzy and nauseous.  For the next 5 mins I could hardly control my movements or stand and just wanted to vommit.  Now I am just in muscle pain :)

But it was a nice run (until the end), I did finish before my team mate, but as he crossed the start line 30 secondsbefore me he beat my.  Never mind, next year :)

A special mention to a couple of colleagues though.  We have someone in the office who is quite blind (he walks with a white stick).  And another who is a fitness freak.  The second gave up his chance of a good time in the 10km (he would be top 10 easily), and the first trained hard and managed an extremely respectable 29:53 for the 5km.  Well done to them both!

And finally...  Another call with my folks, another reason for me to smile.  They have been for a weekend away, and wanted to know how my run went so I gave them a call last night.  Dressed, Mrs Stace had done my eyes so for once I didn't look like a freak - and got good pointers for next time!  We had a good chat and at the end I asked what they were planning to spend on my birthday.  And would they mind buying me an epilator.  And the good news is that they have no issues with it at all, and I ended up have a chat with my mum about the annoyance of shaving legs.  And it felt natural, unforced, and much more like a mother / daughter conversation than a mother son conversation, esp with me dressed at the time (though my mum didn't know that).  It was really great and the first time for a while that I have felt like 'me' for the whole evening.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Scaring myself...

Since I have started to write this blog, and send mails to some of you, I've started to get really scared about accidentlally outing myself...  In emails to other people.

Whilst not technically middle aged yet (thank you Melissa) I do have Senior Moments when I just go into auto pilot.

Especially when writing mails.  I have three signatures that I use regularly.  My bloke name, my sickening sweet name that I used when sending a mail to Mrs Stace, and Stace.

When on autopilot I press send then get a sudden feeling of dreed.  Did I just send 'Stace' by mistake?  I have signed with my bloke name to Mrs Stace (and she asked what she had done to annoy me to the point of not using the sweet name) and I have signed it with the sweet name to colleagues which brings the whole 'I like you, but not in that way' jokes (but essensially easy to get out of).  If I sent Stace by mistake how the hell do you 'oops' your way out of that?


Wish me luck!  Sunday at 13:45 European Time I start the 5km business run.  I am aiming for a time of 25 mins this year...


Thursday, 15 April 2010

They took my license!

Yesterday was a sad day for me.  A 16 year relationship with my UK license ended.

No I didn't do anything naughty (well I wasn't caught at least :p ), I handed it over voluntarily to the local council to be replaced with a Dutch version in the coming weeks.

Since my license runs out in July, and I trust the DVLA to get replacing it correct like I trust HP to make quick reliable computers I decided the time had come to switch it to a Dutch version.

An expensive medical later (for the C and D categories) and all is sorted.  They have my license and officially I am no longer allowed to drive.  In Holland you have to have your license with you at all times when driving.  I have many pieces of paper to say that I can indeed drive - but if I am stopped by the police they can give me a 100 euro fine at their discretion for not having the correct paperwork with me.

So I am now trying to drive like I am on my driving test all the time.  It's hard work :)  Hopefully I'll get the letter saying the new license is available to pick up soon.

Monday, 12 April 2010

A small woohoo

OK appologies if this sounds like showing off...

Today, for the first time in 8 years, I am at work in my (albiet male) skinny, 29" jeans.  Months of running and skating have finally started to pay off!  Coming in at less than 30" has a really nice psycological impact...


Saturday, 10 April 2010

Never forget

Well I'm just about over the worst of the illness from the last week, as is Mrs Stace, and plan on doing another 15km's on my skates again today.

Thanks for all of your comments on my last post - reading them really touched me (and made me well up a little).

Over the last week I told someone else who I really am.  At the most inopportune moment, with almost no time for him to digest the information.

We had a bi-annual quaterly meeting at the office (yes you did read it right...) and about 5 mins before it started I was on the Valdispert again.  I had been having a bad day - everything going wrong from the second I woke up until that time and it was creeping into an anxiety attack again.  I was with one of the guys I wok with a lot at the office and he asked if I was OK.  I told him it was to do with the issues that surfaced last year, he said again I could talk if I wanted to.  I decided screw it, why not, it would be easier.  So with 5 mins before the meeting started we went for a walk (told you it was not a good moment) and I told him.

He took it well, and said I was not the first person he knew with this.  Then we had to get back and into the meeting.

During the break in the meeting we had a drink and took me to one side so no one would hear and said the following with a look of total seriousness on his face:

'Never forget that no matter what differences there are between your head and your body - you are a great, and very nice, person.  Always remember that'

I'm welling up just writing that - I just thought that it was such a wonderful thing for him to say.  And to take me aside especially to say it.  I'm blown away.

Now to see if my weekend can be as good.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

So Very Tired

What a weekend...

Mrs Stace had Good Friday off from work - the idea was that she went shopping with her sister and relaxed, then I would come home and join her.

That didn't work out quite as planned.

I called to let her know that I was healthy and could get my Dutch license and she said she was having to be driven home by her sister as she could barely stand.

I left early, with the idea that I could get the Easter weekend shopping done and then catch up whilst looking after her. I got home, struggled to get the shopping in and then crashed on the sofa as well.  Saturday was spent crashed on the sofa.  Sunday was at my niece's birthday party (where I crashed again) and Monday was spent drifting in and out of sleep on the sofa.  All weekend Mrs Stace has been doing similar things.

I went back to work today, but am still not 100%.

The point to this outpouring?  Excuse making basically.  I was planning to catch up on blogs over the weekend and give the comments I wanted to.  As it was I barely touched a computer. Ergo, I have only left a fraction of the comments I wanted to.  To those I have not had time to comment on whilst catching up today - sorry.

Going to crash again now...


Saturday, 3 April 2010

The couple of feminine features I do have...

I was just reading an item on the BBC about IBS treatments and I thought of the other (slight) issues that I have that are really not fair...

The item was about old fashioned remadies that doctors generally ignore these days, but may actually be the most benificial.  I suffer from mild IBS (I know people who suffer with much more acute symptoms than me, and they really have my sympathy).  Basically from time to time I bloat like a baloon over the course of a few minutes - from trousers that have inches to spare to not being able to do them up.  This is accompanied by major stomach cramps and other issues that I will not go into here :)  I may buy some perpemint oil and see if that actually works...

The other issue is my knees - well joints in general.  I have been under treatment from a physiotherapist a couple of times in the past due to major pain in my knees.  Almost like I had seriously sprained it, to the point where I could not walk on it.

X-rays showed that there was nothing wrong, and a few weeks rest cured the symptom until I started to use my knees again.  After speaking to the physio she told me that all of my joints were, and I quote, "Too floppy" and as a result I was damaging the minicus each time I moved.  I had to learn how to stand correctly, walk correctly, and cycle correctly in order to force my movements to match what a normal persons joints should automatically do.

The point...  Both of these issues are common on both sides of my family. My mum and most of my aunts, and my female cousins have issues with IBS, and a good number of my aunts have issues specifically with their knees.

This is what think isn't fair - I have something in common with most of my female relations, and what is it? Illness and injury!


PS In case not obvious from my writing the comaplint is a little tongue in cheek (even if the issues are not) :)

Friday, 2 April 2010

This is a fit and healthy young man

I just got back from the doctors office for my driving license health check and that is what he put on the form I have to send to the licensing agency :)

'Man' aside there is nothing better to see on the form I think.  It's been a few years since I was called young as well :)

Eyesight was perfect, slight issues with me knowing left from right - but pointing with my hands got around that problem.  There no no trace of anything in the urine test and my body made the noises and had the reactions he expected when he started to hit it.

The only cause for concern was my blood pressure - 155/90.  But then it was a medical and I was stressed because of that.  He did say it was outside of normal range, but in the circumstances nothing to be concerend about.  I have seen it higher in the UK - 160/120 - the doctors didn't believe that could be true and made me come back 2 weeks later to recheck it.  I so love white coat syndrome.

This means that I can now send off for my license, complete with trucks and busses that nobody I know over here thinks I should have on the license (just because I have never sat in the driving seat of either, and never taken a test).

The one question that I am not sure if I answered correctly...  Do you have any phycological problems.  Does GID count?  I assumed not so said nothing.  And seeing as he said I passed the cursory test with flying colours I guess it doesn't matter...

Well roll on 4pm so I can ride home on the bike in more comfort than I rode here - it was bitterly cold this morning, and it felt like it took hours to get the feeling back in my fingers.

Well time to get some work done I suppose...