Sunday, 23 June 2013

We have our own TARDIS

Yes, I am a Dr Who fan :) David Tennant is my favorite, though Matt Smith grew on me, and the best companion by far was Catherine Tate (thought I was skeptical when I first heard that she was going to take over...) And, yes, I am busy trying to see who I would like to see as the next Doctor. I love one suggestion that I saw on-line - Sue Perkins, I just think that she is so quirky and witty that she could easily slip into the role.  My own choice at the moment would be Shawn Evans, who recently played the title in Endeavour, the series about Morse's early years as a Detective Constable. OK, possibly too close to David Tennant or Matt Smith in terms of quirkiness, but I think with the social awkwardness that he can portray it would be a good change from the over the top in your face doctors of recent years.

OK, geekiness behind me, why the title?

We'll get to it :)

The last week has been, err, painful!

Work has been going, I have managed to get our new server working to the point where I hope the real migration that will take place next week should go without a problem.  Phew.  The pre-work has taken a lot of time, and the migration will take most of my next weekend.

I had a sort of pre-review with my boss during my one to one this week. Something happened that made me bring it up (he was apologetic that I had to be the one to bring it to the table, as he meant to give me some information before hand). Nothing bad, I just noticed that my salary was different so I had to ask whether or not my rise was due. I can't complain as I have had the same with the people in my team over the last year.  Oops :)

But, everything is good. The improvement point is my forgetfulness, there is a pattern of the less important things on my plate being forgotten until he mentions it again, and it's something he would like me to work on in the next year.  Me too, so I am not going to complain there. There may be a reason for it - but I need to ensure that if I am too full that I tell him to remove things.  If they can be removed then I have to do the remaining well, and if they can't then I am not going to take responsibility for it if I have already said it's too much. Something I can work with I think.

Outside of work I am starting to accept the situation with the operation. It is what it is, and nothing I can do will change that. I'm still shattered, and struggling with energy, but hopefully I'll get over that soon! I'm still really annoyed at the way everything was communicated, but that shouldn't have an impact on my view of the op itself.

And...  I found a folder on the VUMC website that goes into detail about the operation. Before you go to hospital, arriving at the hospital, the day of the operation (and lots of details about it), and recovery split into days (day after the operation, days 2 and 3, day 4 and day 5 - hopefully the day you are discharged).

And then a pile of information about what to do at home.

I've read it about 4 times now, and I am going to read it more times still. The first time I scanned it and it terrified me (the pictures, whilst drawings rather than photos, are still OMG!), the second time I read it quickly. Each time I am reading it slower and taking in more information. And whilst the complications are still scary, it is actually calming me down.

And so...  I'm actually starting to get excited about the result, rather than terrified of the op itself. I'm still not feeling particularly spiritual about it (something I asked my therapist about, as most other people who's experiences I have read seem to have a really spiritual vibe to them, and even my mum talks about it being a rebirth), but then I am not that spiritual a person, and maybe that makes the difference. It's something I need to be complete, from a mental point of view as well as a practical point of view.  It is a *HUGE* thing, but I just can't see it as a rebirth. It's a major operation that I need to continue my life.

And I'm continuing the preparation! This week electrolysis for the first time.  And due to a mix up at the place the anesthetic cream had worn off before they began.  OW!!!! That was without a doubt the singularly most painful thing I have done! Depending on where she was working it felt like either I was being kicked in the nuts when the current went on, or that someone was holding a match to me. And the laser that followed had me shaking in pain by the end.

She told me that if it all got too much that we would stop for the day, but you can't do that can you?  It has to be done, and if it hurts then it hurts. It will still hurt in the future so why stop? But, wow, was I glad when she said, "OK, last line now."  Ow.  I'm glad I had already gone running for the day, as it was not going to happen afterwards!

I am so glad I never had to have electrolysis on my face! (OK, I could do with it a little now, but plucking every two or three days for 2 minutes or less seems like a less painful option!)

And the weekend?  Well...  Yesterday I started a new routine on the Xbox, supposedly less extreme that my normal one, but I burnt the same amount of energy doing it! It was however a lot more enjoyable and had more legwork than general cardio so I am going to keep to it.  It also works out the muscles that you need in good condition for the op, and for afterwards so bonus :)

And then the TARDIS...

I cleaned the small cupboard under the stairs yesterday.  We had bought some new drawer units to replace one of the shelves to try and organise everything. I thought that it's a meter * 2 meters (at most) and as you can only stand up in the first meter how hard can it be?

And there it is.  1 * 2 meter cupboard, and what came over covered the floor of a 5 * 6 meter room.  HOW????  5 hours later the last of the things went back, and we have enough stuff that is not going back to half fill the V70 next week to take it to the tip!

And I ache like hell today! Sneezing from the dust, aching from the new exercise, and the strange positions that you need to empty the cupboard, and to remove the lower shelf being replaced with the drawers and still needing to run this afternoon as it was just not going to happen this morning!

What did happen this morning was I made another focaccia, the first time in a while, and so we are going to really enjoy lunch!

Speaking of which it's nearly ready, so I had better get going!


UPDATE! I just reread this and realised that it could come across wrong :) I am not saying that feeling spiritual about the operation is wrong.  I was just saying that I don't feel that way. And actually I was concerned by not feeling that way enough to actually bring it up with my therapist on Friday (who said not to worry about it).



Sunday, 16 June 2013

Keep on running

OK, third time lucky hopefully.  I've started this a couple of times in the past few hours and got stuck. Let's see if it flows a third time.

I'll start with the bad.  Thursday sucked.  In fact it went beyond sucking.  Or at least the afternoon sucked.  The morning was actually quite a lot of fun...

I was working from home, and then I had a kick off meeting with the partner company for my major project this year. We had a good chat about how we want to do the communication for the project and what the plans are for the various companies that I will be working with.

Seeing as I am supposed to be the central contact point I decided to tell them that I would be having a heavy operation that would mean I was not available for a number of months, and how we are planning to handle the project at that point.

"Ah, would the be the last operation"
[tilt of head and wry smile]"Ah... You know my history then?"
[smile] "Well, one of our developers worked for your company about 5 years ago and you have a very rare last name. We thought maybe you had a brother, but the chances of that happening in the same company and with that name have got to be so very rare."

I have to smile at the conversation, and their reaction :)

But then I went to the hospital, and that sucked. Firstly I had to get the paperwork from the plastic surgery clinic and take it to the anesthetist pre check. There was a misunderstanding with the rest of my file thought that meant I had to go running around the hospital.  Hohum, it can happen...

So, I was told to wait for the pre operative check.  This was at 11:50.  No problem I thought. Followed by an hours wait, watching the waiting room fill up and empty. At 1pm I checked to see when my appointment was going to be. There is one person in front of you, and we have three doctors working so not long.

OK.  Waiting room fills and empties. At just gone 2pm I was actually seen.  That appointment went really well, no issues and apparently I run a lot (I must admit I didn't class 3 * 7KM per week that much...) and as a result am in perfect condition for the operation.

They needed to take some blood for the transfusion service, so after eating (it was by now 8 hours since breakfast, and I thought that maybe getting food before going to have the blood taken was a good idea) I went there. No delay, but also not the best person doing it - it was on Thursday and I still have the bruise!

And then to the gender clinic to ask a couple of questions that could not be answered by the two other departments this week. I was seen within 10 minutes by someone who was either one of the plastic surgeons, or worked for them.  And that is when it went totally to pot.

I will not be getting a phone call over the next week for an appointment, as I was told on Tuesday.  I have not been on their waiting list for the last 6 months. I have only just *joined* the list (contrary to what I have been told until now).  They do not know when they will be calling me for an appointment.

WTF? So far the clinic has been so good, I don't get why this bit should be so disjointed and full of unknowns. It has really taken the wind from me and left me completely in limbo. I could be operated on  in 4 weeks, 8 weeks or 6 months.  Maybe a year. Basically there is nothing known.  Except for who my surgeon is going to be (that was in the system by the anesthetists).  And no one can understand how that can be in the system (which of the three it is going to be) and yet there is no planning for anything else yet.

And why the hell have I just done the pre-operative check for the anesthetists when they don't know when I will be operated on.  Worst case scenario that it is another year before the operation - anything can happen.  I can lose 10kg, I can gan 10kg - I don't want either, but it could happen! I could get a blood desease, or anything else that the people there need to know about. I just don't get it.

But, everyone has also said that I have to just accept this, that the operation will happen and whilst, yes, it would have been good to have more information, there isn't and I have to try and get on with life now.

So I have tried to.

Exercise. Actually, here I have decided to take a step back.  Monday evening I came in and was exhausted. I got changed and tried to do my workout, but 1/6 of the way through I could barely lift my feet anymore and had to stop. So I was working it out.  I do 45 minutes of running, three times per week and on Saturday morning I do my cardio workout (40 minutes). That is enough really.

So I am going to stop working out on Mondays and give myself a rest.

Lets see if that helps my energy levels, rather than pushing myself to collapse.

Work is "going"... I would like to have more time, but I have managed to say no to two new projects in the last week (after getting rid of two projects in the same timeframe I'm pleased with myself for not forcing new ones on myself!).  I also felt bad for saying no to people, but their response has been very good. When I sent an apology email I got an immediate response asking why I was apologizing, and saying that there was absolutely no reason to.

My other blog ( has been so much fun to do, and I spent last night digging through pictures to set up a theme for the coming two weeks.  That gives me some time to try and make myself find something new to take shots of and put on the site.

And, as long as the weather improves a little, I'm starting to relax in the garden. In the sun, reading a book for a couple of hours is just so relaxing.

So...  Crappy Thursday, really crappy Thursday in fact, but I am starting to try and do something to take my mind off of it.

Oh, and I have a new look as of Wednesday. I got my hair dyed again, and because it has been bleached by the sun recently we went two shades lighter than normal.  Wow, is it red!  I love it, but it is taking some getting used to (and has cost me 53 euros in eyebrow makeup - the set that I had was for brunettes and was completely wrong for the shade I have now...  Oops ;p)

Right, time to see if my dad will answer the phone for his Fathers day call!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Short update

Really short - seeing as it's the start of the working day!

Firstly, those people I was going to email at the weekend...  There were a few things I didn't get around to doing this weekend (getting my pictures organised for pictures in passing, getting things in the house organised, calling my parents etc) and, yes, sending emails was amongst them.

Monday I was that tired when I got in that I got 1/3 of the way into my first routine on the xbox and had to stop, and so spent the evening just about asleep.  And since then I have not been home...

So... I expect it will be this weekend before I send them, sorry!

Secondly! I had my first appointment with the plastic surgeon yesterday. Still no date, I should get that in the coming week hopefully, so it was a bit of an anti climax, but looking back it was a very goof appointment.  We discussed what they are going to do, and how, what the complications can be - most I knew, but one I didn't and whilst it may be very rare, it also has lifelong implications.  Should they hit the wrong bit when doing the operation you can end up with a colostomy bag for life. A new worry.

They checked me out to make sure everything was OK. And I had to laugh afterwards. Most of my life I never cared about size, but in the last 3 years it's become important ;p Thankfully he said that it should be OK.

We talked about what I can do before hand (keep being a non smoker, and keep to my weight).  And keep being an active participant in the process, and not a passive one - he said all of those are important to a better recovery.

We talked about time of recovery. I'll be in for about a week, and for the next two weeks I'll have to go back once a week for a check-up and then a few times over the following 6 months. I should expect +/- 6 weeks to be working - if all goes well - and shouldn't think about getting back to running for 2 months at the earliest.

And that's about it. I have to go back on Thursday for an appointment with the anaesthetist and then it's just a waiting game again.

The other thing I have to do is contact the clinic for what I need to recover. This seems to be a bit of non joined up thinking. The surgeon doesn't tell you what you need to look after yourself afterwards. That has to come from the clinic, and I have had nothing there.  So there is another call today!

Not what I really wanted (not having a date and all) but I do feel better for having the appointment.

Right, time to start the day!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Building back up

Thanks to all of you for you comments and mails over the last few days (I am getting around the answering them, hopefully today!)

Oh, and sorry for the long post!

After the real low of Tuesday I have started to build myself back up again - I'm not great yet, but getting there. And it's down the amazing people that I have around me!

On Tuesday evening I spent an amount of time talking, and snoozing next to, Mrs Stace. Just trying to relax that little bit. Oh, and complaining about my knee! Whilst going for the 7km run was good for my head it seems that walking for 5km in my heeled boots (and running for a bus in them) before hand was not the best! (A day rest did it the world of good though!)

Wednesday morning I went back to work and did my best to concentrate and get the important things done. When my concentration nosedived (too often...) I went out into the sun and tried to recharge and regroup. And spent the time there chatting with friends about Tuesday. During one of those talks I laughed about the mistake that tipped me over the edge on Tuesday for the first time. Something that felt good.

In the afternoon I had an appointment with my boss for a personal catchup. He had something new to say to try and help me. Lots of people have told me I have to stop being a perfectionist at the moment, that I have to accept I will makes mistakes and that everyone who is working with me knows just how big the process is that I am going through and completely understands, and not to think that I am being judged.

What my boss has told me is that I have to stop being a control freak. Until now I have controlled the process pretty much how I needed to. I decided that I was going to transition, when to start laser, when to actually transition (almost - I did it a week earlier than planned due to some news in the office) and when to start hormones.

But, my boss pointed out that I no longer have that control. I will get told when the operation is, and stressing about it will not change that fact - I have to accept that. The other one is the recovery. It will be as quick or as slow as it is, and apart from looking after myself before and after the operation there is very little I can do to try and organise it now - which is what I am trying to do - when can I start to telecommute, when can I start back in the office, when can I start to walk to the shops and build up to going running again. I cant answer any of these questions and it's driving me insane!

He did tell me that over last two and half years that we have worked together he has been amazed at the mental strength that I have had throughout the process, and that I have to stop being so hard on myself. I think that it also part of the issue now. I have not really had the major meltdowns that I was told to expect until now. I've had low days, but nothing like I have had since starting this phase of the process. The fact that I coped so well until now just makes this all the more shocking to me. And all the more like a failure (I know it's not, but have to realise and accept that as well).

I had spent some time on Wednesday making a list of all the jobs that I have at the moment.  And which ones I thought I could cope with and which I would like to pass on to someone else. I thought I was being over the top in what I was going to ask to pass on to someone else, he thought I was not being realistic with what I wanted to keep. But the ones I have I want to do! We are going to speak about it in a few weeks and see how I am doing, if I'm coping then fine, otherwise I'll get rid of some more projects.

Thursday was a great day for me, I was doing the things that I love at work and seeing the result. It started with a meeting with external people, for my main project of the year. Initially I was really nervous - this was the first time I was going to hold  meeting where I was the only representative from my company since 2002. The weather helped break the ice - it was nice weather and I asked them if they would rather be in the meeting room that was reserved, or would they rather sit outside on our terrace. It's wonderful to see the look on peoples face when they return the question: "We can sit outside?!"  :)

After we covered the basics the meeting kind of got stuck, which got me concerned, but we got over it and came with a good plan at the end that we will follow up in two weeks. I got lots of positive comments from my colleagues who saw me outside on my own with 5 external visitors and were impressed with how I was holding myself (after all two days earlier I had a complete breakdown in the office, and I'm from IT - I'm not supposed to be able to talk to people ;p )

And I did almost all of it in Dutch! (I am happy I managed that!)

In the afternoon we had a production problem, something that was quite serious and needed some research to find the cause and solution. This type of thing is where I get in my element. Whilst we should never get to this state of affairs, I love crisis management. It took the entire afternoon, but we found and fixed the problem.  Phew :)

Friday...  Well, nothing special for the morning. I was in a meeting with architects for the renovation of the building in the morning.  3 hours of presentations, brainstorming and trying to figure out how to make the most of the space we have.  Quite exhausting!

After lunch I had a chat with a colleague as I said something in the morning that got him nervous - he made a comment and I accused him of making fun of me. But I did it in a rather too English way - without large enough sarcasm tags :) We cleared the air, and then had a catch up about how I was doing. He is a great listener and we had a good chat about everything that's going on - including that I am not doing too well at the moment.  The comment that sums it up best, and that I used with him was: Being transsexual sucks. Sure, since transitioning life has been much, much better. But going through it does suck - you just have to try to do the best that you can with it.

Then it was time for my real one to one with my boss, the one we have every other week to catch up on projects and outstanding issues. The things that he refused to bring up when discussing which projects I wanted to keep and which I needed to give  to someone else - he said we had a meeting for that, and the Wednesday meeting was about getting me back on my feet.

And then, as it turned out the last thing of the day, I had a chat with the woman from the business about the project.  Questions from the meeting with external people the day before, and a general update for the other companies that we are working with.

Once we were done she asked how I was doing, and again it was a great chat. Just talking about it really helps - it means that it's not sitting stewing in your head.  She said the same as everyone else, stop being a perfectionist and stop beating yourself up. We talked about where I am doing well, on how far I have come and where I will be when everything is done and dusted. I loved one of her comments: Just think Stace, when all this is done you are going to be able look in the mirror and see you yourself, and not just when you're dressed! (I had commented to her that generally I'm fine now - recent stress excluded - except for when I go to the bathroom or have a shower).

We also talked about what I feel I missed when growing up, and the three life phases that I am going through at the moment (self discovery that should have been done when I was really young, being a teenager - both in hormones and self discovery and of course being a mid 30s woman trying to move my career and life forward). When you are growing up, especially as a teenager, you are playing at being an adult, learning who you are and how to interact  with your peers. I spent my teenage years trying to fit in as one of the guys (failing most of the time) and trying to work out just who I was. And not figuring out how to be one of the girls. That is something that is only happening now, in my mid 30's.  And it's actually quite hard! She bought up that I work in a department that is 15 people and only 3 women. And that situation is not going to help me, and so if I ever want a chat I need to call her and we'll go out into the sun for a chat. Assuming I can bring myself to do it, I think that is a great idea.

And then it was time to go home and start the weekend.

I've also had a great weekend, though I think this post has already been long enough (congratulations to anyone who has got this far!)

I'd like to finish with how I started.  Thanks to everyone for the messages and support. With that, the support at home, and with that of my colleagues I am in a much better place now than I was on Tuesday. I don't know how long it will last, but at least I know that I have to support to recover!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Meltdown. Again...

I thought that I was past this stage. That exhaustion could lead to a stupid mistake, which would in turn tip the scales enough to cost me another days vacation and leave me with a blinding headache.

(And seeing as I still have the blinding tear induced headache I'm going to try to keep this short).

This morning I found myself in Amsterdam, a month earlier than I needed to be (for some reason I had read July as June, and even now have the overwhelming feeling that I should be there now). On a tram heading to a conference that was not going to take place yet and almost in tears on the phone to Mrs Stace, trying to figure out how I had done something *so* stupid.

She suggested I write the day off, take a days leave and relax at home. I would've done that except that I could not get hold of my boss to discuss it. So I took the train to where I work, and not the train back to where I live.

He called me on the train, and again I was nearly in tears (with the complete realisation that I was in a carriage with about 100 other people, all of whom would be looking at me if I did). We had a chat and I said I was on my way there.  he did tell me not to stress about the mistake.

I grabbed a cappuccino at the station (believe it or not they make good ones!) and walked to the office, cradling my cup in both hands like it was 20 degrees colder than it was and trying to bite back tears.

Until I reached the office, then it all went to pot. Someone asked me how I was feeling and I broke down completely. She took me to a quiet room and we had a good chat.  I thought that I had calmed down and tried to get on with my work. Until I had to take something to HR and someone there asked how I was. And I was off again. We headed to a meeting room and had another chat, about how I should not push myself too hard, how everyone knows I am going through something huge right now and basically that I should cut myself some slack.

Even having that conversation made me feel a complete and utter failure. At work and with my transition - 3.5 years after telling Mrs Stace, and 18 months living as Stace and this *still* happens! I can do better work than I am doing, but at the moment it just isn't happening. I get scared that at some point people are going to realise that I am useless at my job and kick me out.  And here is me helping to prove that... I told her that and she told me to stop worrying, and repeated what she had said earlier.

We agreed that I should take the day off and try to relax, which I have managed to do somewhat. The weather here has picked up again, I took another run to calm my head (it semi worked, it wandered everywhere rather than emptying, but at least it didn't obsess), then had a cheese and pickle ciabatta, followed by a peanut butter and chocolate sprinkle one (seriously, one of the best comfort foods ever, the Dutch know their stuff!).

And reading, music and snoozing in the sun followed.

Am I recovered? No, not even close. I realised that I have not taken a week off of work since September last year (maybe even August) and that is part of it. The other is the uncertainty of the operation at the moment (I want to get organised) and the fear of being put under for it.

I have a chat with my boss tomorrow, and I am not sure he is going to like it. I'm not going to do what my therapist said and go on partial sick leave just yet, even though it may help. That is a last resort for me. First I am going to say that I need some slack. I am going to look at what is on my plate and ask for help in some of it. I already have an idea what can be the first to go. First two things actually. And I am going to see if that helps.

Either way, I want to do something to stop this!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

I Love Summer in Holland

It's the nicest day of the year.

I wish I could credit for that, but it is from a photo that everyone in in the office shared on Friday :)

But after an awful week weather wise, more Autumn to winter than Spring to Summer, it half arrived on Friday.  When the sun was out it was beautiful - in fact sitting in the sun eating lunch caused me to start sweating a lot, cascading down me cheeks - I started to feel very self concious!

Then someone suggested a bit of ping pong (we have two outdoor tables for relaxing).  First off I was told by others not to do it (My only concern is that I won't play in skirts, but I was in jeans on Friday so it was fine).  However, I was in 8cm heels, and a few people thought that it would be dangerous. I, stupidly and in far too a blasé manner, just said: "What's the worst that can happen?  I can still program with a broken ankle!"

Stupid!  The amount of times I have been laid up due to a heavily sprained ankle is too large to count, and I know I shouldn't treat it so lightly...  But I got away with it this time,and the wind on my face cause by moving actually cooled me somewhat too.

Whilst I was moving...  Once I got inside for our team stand-up it was worse than ever.  No one said anything during the stand-up, but a few people commented afterwards!

Saturday was not a good day, chilly again and totally overcast.  We made the best of the bad weather by clearing out most of our attic, and taking a load of rubbish to the dump.  A V70 full again (where does it all come from!). The room now has space, and we just need to finish one corner that we didn't have time for this week. One thing that we got rid of this time were all of our old VHS tapes. There must have been a hundred of them, some of them that I still want to get on BluRay, but as we gave away our player it seemed silly to keep the tapes ;p

I BBQ'd again last night, taking advantage of the fact that you don't need to stand next to a Weber BBQ to cook, and can just put the meat in, wait 10 minutes to turn it and then come out to get lovely cooked food 10 minutes after that :) But, I was glad for that option, if was getting quite chilly again and once we had finished easting the doors and curtains were closed and we stayed cosily on the sofa watching Jeff Dunham followed by Endeavour (a prequel to Inspector Morse) - I know - low brow ventriloquist humour followed by high brow detective, an interesting mix!

Today is going to be a lazy day for us after the work of yesterday. I managed to sleep in until 9am (almost unheard of for me) and so it was too late to go running.  I'm now on the terrace set in the garden, with a sky almost devoid of clouds and the shade of blue that makes you put on a very thick layer of sun cream!

I'm going to get lunch in a minute and then it's relax with a book until MotoGP starts, and then I guess I'll drag myself out for the run I should have done this morning :)

Tonight there is no BBQ planned (maybe I got the days backwards...), but instead will be making the hairy dieters chicken korma again. And of course praying that it remains warm enough to use the new table and chairs to eat it al fresco for the first time since buying them more than a month ago!

I don't often stop to chill, but I have a feeling I need it at the moment!