Saturday, 26 December 2015

Slade, Roy Wood with Wizard and Kirsty MacColl with the Pogues

Though I am not in the slightest religious I adore this time of year. I love the fake Victorian type of Christmas, the whole family together doing things. My granddad, who past away 2 days before Christmas in 1996, loved it too, and instilled his love for it in my mum who passed it onto me.

12 months ago we were in a house in the middle of The Netherlands with the whole of Mrs Stace's family and I was struggling to spend more then a few minutes not lying down whilst loaded up on paracetamol and enjoying it as much as possible. The little dude had no idea what was going on and got bored with present opening very quickly. And it was still great!

Fast forward a year and we were busy putting together an Ikea kids kitchen at 11pm on Christmas Eve (so that the little guy did not see it before hand) and trying to wrap it. And it ewasn't even our present to him! It was from my parents.

We had put a glass of port out for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer. The little guy must think we are little weird - a few weeks ago we were putting our shoes in the living room and singing to them for Sint Klaas to come and leave something for him and now we were making a big deal out of setting the table for someone who wasn't there :)

Come the morning we set the presents under the tree (we couldn't do it at night as our robot vacuum cleaner would have damaged them :p) and waited for him to wake up. His face when we came downstairs and he saw the presents was an absolute picture! And his the surprise on his face when he saw the carrot was half eaten :)

He's still a bit young for the presents. He gets what they are now (and dived straight into opening a big one when we sat by the tree) but he opened the first one and just wanted to play with it and watch Gruffalo, rather then open the rest. But we did some more before taking a break for breakfast, and he was over the moon with all of them (especially his coffee machine). I got some earrings from Mrs Stace, and the complete Indiana Jones BluRay set (which is on right now :) ) and some glitter nail polish from the little guy (among other things).

We got dressed - me in my new Christmas Dress:
(And it is a beautiful in person as in the picture!)

And then then, with my parents on the phone, we opened the hallway door and, shock and surprise, Santa had left another present there! It must have been too big to fit in the living room :)

He knew exactly what to do with this present and spent 5 minutes unwrapping it whilst my parents watched 1600km away. His face lit up when he realised what it was and didn't stop playing with it for the next hour! I can't wait for him to get up later this morning and start again!

After his nap (which he didn't want, but sorely needed!) we went to Mrs Stace's parents for Christmas dinner with her family. Everyone dressed up and had a great meal and a great time. I taught my niece something on the piano which she practiced until even her grandmother had had enough :)

I was worried that with my childhood Christmas' I was putting too much on myself to recreate for the little guy and it would never live up to my memories and expectations. But, in fact, it was great. I have a grin ear to ear just thinking about the day. 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Is it that long already?

Just a quick post seeing as my laptop battery is about flat...

Today I received a wonderful SMS from my parents. 

'Hi darling daughter. Happy first birthday. Dad and I are so proud of you. Love you lots xxx'

At the weekend I had realized that this week is 1 year.
Yesterday I realized that it was one year from leaving my son behind and heading to hospital.
To be told that I had a fever and the surgeon had to be consulted about whether or not I would be sent home.
To be left alone scared and facing the unknown.
Happy and terrified in a way that I can't explain and that quite a few who knew  me did not appreciate.

However, this week the Dutch health insurance goes into overdrive and I have been working 12 to 14 hours days.

This morning I was so focused on getting the systems in the office working, and getting the errors that we had solved that I didn't stop to think that:

At 7:30, whilst I was driving to the office, it was when someone came in to take blood to double check that I was not too ill to be operated on.
At 8:30, whilst racing between rooms trying to organize a hotfix, I was being taken upstairs to the operating theater
At 09:00, whilst I was delaying a meeting to get the required people to test the hotfix, I was having my hand harpooned as the anesthetist could not find my vein!
At 09:30 whilst taking 5 minutes for a cup of tea to recover from the stress, I was being put under.
At 13:00, whilst in a team meeting, I came to for the third or 4th time (I think) and had no idea what was going on :)
At 16:00, whilst in a planning meeting, I was having nonsensical conversations with Mrs Stace that I have no memory of :o

It's been a tough year, and dilation is still not the high point of my day to put it bluntly, but what a ride and so, so worth it.

I know that some people see it as a birthday, but I really don't. It was a step, big, huge and very important, but a step still, in a long process. But, that SMS from my parents means the world to me :)


Sunday, 8 November 2015

Wall to Wall Stuff

When I started this blog all back in 2009 I was in a very bad place in my head. I had had one panic attack that cost me a week of my life as I recovered from the Valium which was given to me to calm down and several close calls. The blog was cathartic for me and I was adding new entries as I needed - mostly weekly, sometimes a couple of times a week. Thanks to there already being a Susan Cashmore with a Gmail account I landed on Stacy, I still don't know why that was my second choice. With the exception of not wanting to change my initials there were no real thoughts behind my choices.

At the time I had a kind of insomnia, sleep would take some time to come, and I would wake early - sometimes I would wake an hour or more before my 5:30 alarm went off. When this happened at the weekend I would come downstairs, pick a film from the cabinet and write whatever was going through my mind whilst drinking coffee.

Obviously at the end of that year everything went totally pear shaped, or at least that is how I viewed it at the time. On 6th December I was on the verge of another panic attack and everything came out to Mrs Stace and we spent the night talking. She made me go to see the doctor for the referral to the gender clinic, and I assumed that I had lost her.

For the next year we pretty much put our life in hold whilst we waited to see what we were going to do with ourselves. I told my parents (in the middle of another panic attack - happy new year mum and dad!) and Mrs Stace told her family (who didn't disown me...) and we sort of ticked over.

I started seeing my therapist, who I continued to see until earlier this year, and was adamant that my preferred outcome was to find a way to live with this without transitioning. Obviously that worked well.

The second visit was my first outing as Stacy. I will never forget just how terrified I was, not how great it was to be out and about as me.

In the summer of 2011 I came to the conclusion that I it wasn't going to be an option and I started preparing for the seriously scary idea of becoming Stace in day to day life.

On the morning of 11th December I told my team what was going to happen the following day, then the department and finally the whole company was told. Being a somewhat small company that seemed to be the best way to do it. I got almost nothing but understanding and kind words from the many people who came to see me over the day to talk about it.

And then on the 12th I turned up as Stacy. I was shaking like a leaf when I got there and was waiting for lots of strange stares - that thankfully never happened. I was pleased to hear that there were people who had decided to look out for me when they heard the news: if I came in and they thought that I needed help with clothes / makeup that they would step in to help. Which whilst it could come across the wrong way was really not how it was meant. Even better: they never did :)

As time went on I started to just be me. Not worrying about what other people thought, and not constantly assuming the worst. Life started to get easier, sure there were the standard life problems. As lots of people have written before: transitioning does not magically make life perfect. But it does remove one major issue from it allowing you to concentrate on what life should be.

We tried for a child, and were lucky enough to get a beautiful boy who gives us smiles every day (along with grey hairs!) and watching him grow up is just beyond special.

And now? Well I am busy living my life, and whilst I won't say that life is perfect, or that I have no remaining issues from my GID, it's ticking along OK.

And so... I think that this is the close of my GID blog. It makes me said to say it but as Kermit once said: Life is made up of meetings and partings. I will never forget those people who I met online due to the blog. I would like to say a big thank you to you all!

Will the blog continue, who knows. I expect so. I have not posted that much recently as I have not put the time into it. I have other commitments and I no longer wake up at 5am at the weekends. However, I do really miss it. But what will it become? Who knows. Do I want to mix the transition blog with life, or whatever else I choose to blog about? Who knows. Not me that is for sure!

I have never been very good at crusading for a cause, I prefer to live out of the limelight and so generally keep quiet. Something I do feel quite guilty about because it means I keep this blog and my life separate.

So... There will be another blog coming for non gender musings (, though it is empty right now) and for those who are interested in software development my professional blog ( is still going, though not updated as often as I would like to... Though I plan on cross posting some of the entries here, I am not sure how often I will manage to do that.

The posts from the last few years will remain here. As much for my reminiscing of the good times (and bad) as for the fact that reading the blogs of others helped me amazingly during my journey and I would like to hope that this may do that for others.

Look after yourselves, and I will endeavor to do the same,

Friday, 4 September 2015


With thanks to Jenna for reminding me!

Before my operation I hid myself away from any situation where I would be uncomfortable. Anything that had me in anything other than skirt or tunic was out. I stopped climbing (the harnesses do kind of 'frame' certain areas of the body...) and stopped swimming.

Once I recovered enough from the operation to actually go swimming I was so excited. I have wanted to take the little guy into the pool since he was old enough to be taken. I went looking for a swimsuit that I thought would look OK on me (as much as swimsuits can look good on anyone outside of the Baywatch cast...) and once I had it waited for a suitable time.

But then... Doubt crept in and totally crippled me from actually going. As I wrote before, the fear of the changing room that I have never been in, followed by the fear of being pointed at in my swim suit, Two years on hormones have been kind to me, but I am still a little flat chested and a padded swimsuit is not the same as a padded bra for helping in that department! That and my not overly defined waist scared me more than I would like to admit after nearly 4 years of living as Stacy.

And I have to say that no matter how exposed I always felt in water shorts, it is nothing compared to how exposed I feel in a swim suit!

This week we had the chance to take the plunge though (yes, pun intended) as Monday was the last day when we both had vacation and we took the little guy to the toddler lesson.

Mission 1: The changing rooms! Actually, thanks to the way that the Dutch handle this more often it was fine. You see you have cubicles to get changed in. That's it. The rest of the space is shared. Well, not strictly true. There was the option of a communal changing room that we used to get the little guy ready, but seeing as the door opened onto the corridor there was no way that either of us was going to get changed in there!

Mission 2: Actually, there was no mission 2. Once I had got into my swim suit and had a little guy to look after any thoughts about being pointed at or how I look just vanished. Making sure he was OK took priority and we got into the pool and had a whale of a time (yup, intended again!).

We took it in turns with him during the lesson, both took him down the giant flume (that I assume was turned down as it was the baby lesson - when I went on my own to check it I had to paddle down as there was not enough water to keep me moving!) and played in the pool until we were told that the time was up. Cubicles again and home with wet hair and no make-up - also a first for me.

Great morning, and I think that once I don't have to dilate every day and have some more time I am going to take lessons to get my swimming certificates. I am self taught in water and think that with the little guy making sure that I really know what I am doing is a good idea. I was worried about looking a fool taking lessons for basics that most children in Holland do when they are three or four years old until I realised that when I am taking the lessons I am going to be in a pool full of people in the same situation as me - ergo there is nothing to be embarrassed about!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Happy holidays, and lots of tears

This is the last week of a three week break from work. I say holiday, but I'm not sure it is the truth as we did not go away...

Three weeks cut off from the office have been somewhat relaxing though. My password expired the day after my last day in the office and, oops, I forgot to reset it! No mail, no remote desktop, no nothing!

The first week were spent with my parents. Them spending a lot of time with their grandson, us all going out for the day to the zoo to Ikea (the closest Ikea to my parents it about 200 miles away from them so they only go when they come here). We all had Swedish meatballs for lunch (the little guy *loves* them) and my parents got the little guy his Christmas present, an Ikea kitchen, after he spent 20 minutes playing with one in their children's department. I can't wait to see him play on it! And yes, we are going to put it together the day before and wrap it built. We're not nasty enough to just give him two Ikea boxes and some tools. Maybe when he's 5... :p

He loved the zoo, especially the aquarium with the sharks swimming overhead. It was a little too long a day for him - he only slept for 50 minutes in his pushchair.

With the garden almost done (we just need a new fence and a real roof on the shed) we spent a lot of time in there. Playing on the grass, with his slide and just watching him have a whale of a time. It's been amazing!

When they had to leave there were tears. I have never liked it when they have to go home - the worst thing about moving to another country - but now it's such a difficult thing to have to do. And the walk back to the car seems so much longer when you are trying to keep yourself composed (and with Schiphol airport being the size that it is that is a long way to try to look like you are not crying!).

But they are home and safe and we are talking on Skype again.

The second week was spent with the three of us going out. Once to a children's theme park, where they have a couple of small rides for kids, lots of fairy tale attractions (gnome forests etc) and a huge playground that he loved. I spent 30 minutes crawling through tunnels with him (why are his knees not as bruised as mine were!) and climbing over obstacles, and pushing the manual carousels round for him. We managed to get him so tired out that our little guy, who spent 9 hours in a car for 6 days in May going to and from Scotland without sleeping more than 50 minutes a day, fell asleep inside 5 minutes of leaving.

Which was a bad thing. Because it meant that he then didn't sleep over the afternoon! :)

This week has just me and the little guy. Yesterday he went to day care again and I spent the day studying AngularJS (guess what I am doing tomorrow again?), but today I kept him home from day care and we went to an indoor playground for the morning. Crawling around the climbing frames with him and playing in the ball pits. He just didn't know where to start and was running here, there and everywhere. I took my shoes off and climbed in with him to help. Just for him of course, I didn't enjoy the climbing through the small gaps and up the frames at all. Nor did I enjoy falling in the ball pits :) Bazinga!

Yesterday, after I melted my brain with AngularJS (6 hours was enough!) I spent a couple of hours watching E.T. again on Bluray. And deafening the neighbours (hey, you have to reproduce the feeling of the cinema!). And crying. A lot. My t-shirt was wet. I always knew that it was a sad film, but seriously these days it's a different level of sadness! Still a great film though, and considering how old it is the special effects still live up well too!

And, of course for a huge fan, I got The Shepherds Crown last week. One day after release (I couldn't get to the book shop on the day it was released). And cried when going though it in the street. The last Discworld book. I'm about 3/4 through it now and it is a great read. Once I pick it up I lose at least 45 minutes at a time.

Well, someone seems to have woken up judging from the noises coming from the monitor so I am going to sign off for now. Three more days of relaxing and then it all starts again!

PS I owe some of you a mail, I promise to get it too you soon!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Another orbit

Well, seeing as I like to be fair in my criticisms and issues I had to share this today.

I got one step closer to  leaving my thirties behind me today and the guys and gals in the office were amazing!

When I got there there was nothing to say anything special was happening, and I am not going to lie but with the issues I have been having recently I went into a self pity dive.

But, whilst serving the cheese and chocolate cake that I had baked to my colleagues someone walked in with a large present and a card. And, yes guys, in answer to your card: OMFG I am that old! :p

The present was a Nicko RC Porche GT 3 Cup. And it doughnuts beautifully on office linoleum floors :) We know, we tried a lot! There was a lot of laughs, and it was great fun!

Then I went back to my desk and found that someone had decorated it whilst I was serving cake and there was no way I was going to log back on for a while.

Awesome, truly awesome and just what I needed!

And then, seeing as there have been requests for the dress, and as I think the juxtaposition of full on 50's swing and modern RC car are fun, her is me with the car at lunch in our school playground :)

A great start at home with presents from the little guy and a wonderful card that he coloured in himself followed by this has made the day amazing. One of my best birthdays in a while.

Right, time for a rest, I'm too old for all of this excitement!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015


I'm having a bit of a tough time right now.

Since I transitioned nearly 4 years ago (time flies!) I have been the target of some pretty outright sexism. I think that I have documented the cases here pretty well but it boils down to troglodyte car salesmen, computer bits salesmen and IT Services salesmen (Hey! There is a pattern there!)

All of them annoying, but also all of them are quite easy to put out of my mind once I have ranted a little about it.

Recently though I've been struggling a lot with smaller, less intense slights. Whilst in the face of it these are less intense than the ones documented above they are really, really wearing me down to the point where I'm on the verge of tears and physically exhausted from the stress of it all.

A couple of examples of this are:

  • When dealing with a stressful situation if I show any emotion at all then I get told to grow thicker skin
  • My opinion now counts for much less than it used to. There have been repeated instances recently where I have said something to be told it's nothing and then someone else repeats what I say and suddenly it's an amazing idea that needs doing. And I do mean repeats. Word for word almost (I am not blaming the person saying it a second time, sometimes they are not there the first time).
  • Being told that I am over dramatising everything

I was speaking to a female colleague about this, and they asked why I was getting worked up over something that had happened (involving themselves). I explained why I was angry and she simply said 'Oh, I just filter that out these days - you learn to after a while.'

My therapist made a very good point when I was discussing this with him (we did go into it in a lot more detail than I can go into here, but was a lot more helpful than I am about to make it out):

Well, look at the silver lining. They obviously accept you as a woman. 

Looking around at the moment I can really see that is true. I do work in an incredibly sexist industry (though I have no idea if it is more or less sexist than others as I have no frame of reference). As Terry Pratchett wrote in one of his Sam Vines books:

You can be any gender you like as long as you are one of the guys.

Sometimes I can really see that. What I can't see is any way of changing it, nor at the moment of dealing with it. After all, this isn't some forum full of trolls on-line that, though you shouldn't have to, you can remove yourself from. This is real life and happening daily.

PS There is no point to this post. This is more about me letting off a little steam than looking for pity. I knew that this could and probably would happen (though was not expecting it from the people I have it from). I do find myself wondering if people in our position notice it more though. Both due to the lack of social conditioning / defences which are built throughout life and because we can really see how people deal with us differently...

Monday, 8 June 2015

Times up

Scheduled post here, everyone is asleep so I can type for a change! This was going to be at the end of the holiday post, but I thought that maybe that was already too long and this didn't really connect with it!

So...  The past week has been a week of change for me. A few things have happened!

1) I have a degree in my name!

At last, I got around to posting my degree, with a legal copy of my deed poll to my old university and they sent it back with Stacy on it! Woot! I am so thrilled by that! Seeing as I am not going to change my birth certificate as I refuse to divorce my wife this was about the last change that needed doing.

2) I really tried hard to get some courage to do things differently

I'm really working hard to fight my fear at work and talk to people more. It's kind of working, but really hard. But the comments I have had back from most of my team make it totally worth it!

3) Our garden looks like a war zone!

We finally got around to getting our garden renovated (read rip everything out and start again). New tiles for the front garden, patios at either end of the rear and a 24m2 patch of astro-turf for the little guy to play on. Plus some planters where we can plant things that require almost no care to have a dash of nature without me having to spend time keeping it looking good. It's a mess right now, but if the half finished front garden is anything to go by then it is going to be amazing when done!

4) I've had a make over

A total one. Completely.

As I said in a previous post I have stopped worrying whether or not people think I am trying to hard and am just buying clothes that I love (OK, that means the trousers and jeans that I was planning on buying are not going to happen. Probably). I love the 50's look I have right now and that is what I am concentrating on!

I finally got the nerve to cut my hair as I want to. I've been wanting to do it for a couple of years and then always wimp out at the last minute. But this time I had it done. It was supposed to  be before I went to Scotland, but the hairdresser said that my hair was too bleached by the sun to take it so she died it reddish brown before doing the real colour a few weeks later.

And she cut about 7" / 17cm off of it (maybe more...) and gave me a new style that I love!

It did however take three hours to do, but the comments I got during and afterwards from the other hairdressers, and other customers who came and went whilst I was being worked on made the time worth it (OK, that makes me sound so vain... But nice comments are, well, nice sometimes!)

And... I got glasses. First world problem but... I've noticed that things in the distance just are not as sharp as they used to be. Nothing major, but it was grating. So I got my eyes checked and it turns out my better than medically perfect vision is now just perfect. Not a reason for glasses according to the optician. Until... he did the this is what you see without prescription, and this is with what I have measured and the difference was so startling that I actually exclaimed wow out loud. So he changed his mind based on that - though again said it wasn't needed, but if I was more comfortable with then I could think about getting some. Apparently it can happen that when you have great eyesight and then it changes just a tiny bit that you notice it a lot more than someone who has always had that level of eyesight.

So I got glasses. And again, with the whole fear thing, and the whole make over thing I went for broke. Not understated glasses, but ones that I loved (and was worried were over the top!!!).

I don't normally do pictures of myself here (because I hate them) but I love this one, so this is me now :)

Oh, and the title of the post???

Well, I had therapy on Friday again. And... We have decided that it's time to stop. Whilst I find the sessions relaxing, I don't have a goal for them any more, and my therapist said that whilst I am welcome to keep coming, and that he is going to miss me too, without a goal they are not going to help me much.

So... I go back in 6 weeks for my exit session and then it's on with life. 

I'm terrified.

(Of course if I need to then I can ask my GP for a repeat referral to him)

I guess real life doesn't begin at 40, it begins here a couple of years early :)

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Scotland, land of weather (all of it, in about 60 minutes!)

So, I'm back from the visit to my parents (well have been for a few weeks, but every time I opened the editor the white blank space stared back at me and was impossible to fill).  He goes nothing!

The visit itself was generally great. I was worried before we left that it would be an emotional train wreck for 10 days, but nothing could be further from the truth,

He looks great, really great. In fact better than I have seen him in a long, long time. If you didn't know that he was so ill then you really wouldn't be able to guess it.

We talked laughed, went 4*4ing (something that we last did when I was 16!) - and proved that full make-up really does give people the wrong impression of you! At one of the obstacles the guy talking people through them said to my dad to stop when my screaming got too loud. My dad instantly told that was never going to happen (and he was right, I may have giggled like a mad woman though :p ) And... I managed to do the see saw the best out of the group of 6 drivers, not quite getting it to balance, but I had it for a fraction and it didn't clang down on the other side as it did with the others it gently dropped so that I could drive off. And my dad looked so proud!

Other than that the weather was awful (Scotland... :p) for large periods of the day (for the 4*4 we had sun shine when we arrived, rain at the start which turn to hail, and then wet snow before disparaging before the end of the hour and driving back home in sun again!) and so we spent the time mainly at my parents house with them totally and utterly spoiling the little guy. It didn't take him long to cotton on to the fact that grandma will let him get away with most and so when we told him no he'd crawl straight for her seat in the living room whether she was in it or not!

I got to see my brother again, for the first time in two years. And I expect it will be a couple of years before I see him again. It was nice for my parents to see us all together for a change - that hasn't happened since I've been living as Stacy. In fact I think the last time was maybe 2010! We are not close.

And it shows... Whilst he is fine(ish) most of the time he can be such a callous, insensitive person. I knew that anyway (he has never congratulated us with the little guy, refuses to call him by his name as it's Dutch and too hard to pronounce - let alone it's a: not and b: can be shortened to an English name...), but he really took it to a new level for me whilst in Scotland.

He has my dad as having died already, and in his mind is already planning the funeral. Seriously. The day after I found out he sent me a text asking for a chat. I thought, wow, he wants us to comfort each other. Nope. Not at all. Starting with the sentence: I know this sounds cold but... And going down from there. My dad is still fixing my car, and has put it into overdrive now to get it done. But that's not enough for my brother. As he has dad as already having died I have to get the car out of the garage as dad is not going to be around to do it. Never mind that he is loving doing it and it's been great therapy for him (albeit that he has forgotten how hard the work is!) and never mind that he is healthy right now. And then when they had disappeared into the garage for 30 minutes to look at the car I thought I would join them only to find him saying exactly those things to dad himself. Like that is what he needs. I was fuming.

And then later that evening causally tells the room that he thinks I look like David Mitchell. And when everyone berated him for saying it saying that I don't, and his girlfriend looking at him in a very incredulous way he repeats it, over and over - never once noticing just how it's making me feel. I missed a lot of sleep that night.

My mum gave me a lot of comfort the next morning in the kitchen when we talked about it and I nearly burst into tears when I told her I had hardly slept because of it. But there is always a sentence with my brother: you know what he is like, he's not going to change, you should ignore him. Like the fact that he has been insensitive since a teenager excuses him from still being insensitive now. I can't excuse him. He's 40 something now and there is no excuse in my eyes.

But, back to fun! He and his girlfriend (who I'd never met before, and is wonderful and way, way too god for him!) left after a day or so and we carried on. Trips to Waterstones (600 books in our library now! And that's not counting the little guys collection of 50 or 60 books!) and shopping trips for shoes with just me and my mum, and for the little guy with the whole family (and wanting to buy the shop!) followed with a lot more little guy and dad running around the house together having a great time.

Whilst the bit about my brother is quite long here (and I needed to get it out!) it was but a couple of days and the rest of the trip was superb!

Except the travelling. Absolutely not the travelling. Toddlers sleep in cars apparently. No one has told our little guy that! 9 hours due to traffic jams on the worst day and he slept (almost every day the same) for just 40 minutes. 40. It got to the point where he would cry when we got into the car and cheer when we turned the engine off!  Ug! Admittedly the cheering was ultra cute so we made a game of it, counting down to turning it off, cheering and then doing a high five with him :) 

Right now dad is looking at experimental treatment (as there is no current treatment that will help him, it will only make him ill again) to see if there is something that can be done there and trying to live the best he can. All I hope is that he gets more time with the little guy and that the little guy gets some memories of his granddad. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Recovery and reflection

Wow, I just saw on Lynn's blog that my last post was 3 months ago! Time flies, hey?

So, what has been happening? Well, a lot! I'm going to start with the bad news and try to end well.

The bad news is, well, as bad as I have ever had in my life. My dad went back for his post chemo scan. It was supposed to be a formality, a final to check before moving on with life. It wasn't. The first week after finding out I cried a lot in the evenings, and in the car on the way to work. At work I kept myself busy and just about coped - though I only told the other team leads about it as I couldn't cope with people asking if I was OK. I wasn't. I'm not.

On top of my grief over it there is the higher grief of him not getting to see his grandson grow up. And the bigger one of his grandson is never going to remember his granddad. We do not know how long he has, but we are pretty sure that it won't be long enough for the little guy to form any lasting memories.

I had all 4 of my grandparents until I was in my early twenties. I thankfully still have 3. And it hurts to think that he won't have that. Maybe the loss is more mine than his, but it hurts, A lot.

I have now just about accepted it though. And am really trying to concentrate on making the remaining time as great as possible. Trips to them, lots of trips of them to us (we have already been asked if we mind them coming more often - of course not!).

And I am going to stop now, because I am getting upset again.

My recovery is going. there have been setbacks and emergency appointments at the hospital, but nothing too bad and all just about solved. The surgeons are happy with the results, and that means that I am too.

There is still a road to go. I have still not sat on a push bike since the operation. I have sat on the motorbike. Small trips are fine (and it feels great to release my inner biker hooligan occasionally) but when I went to work this week I realised after 40 minutes that it was too early. Just a shame that there was still 10 minutes left, and a whole trip home. That has put me back a bit - the bruising has made itself felt again and sitting has been less comfortable since - though it is getting better. I'm going to keep up the small trips, but the next commute to work can wait until June I think!

I'm busy learning new coding skills - AngularJS and .Net MVC 5. These are technologies we will be using over the coming years in the office. And whilst I do not code that much any more, I do want to have a working knowledge still. And it helped my confidence doing the training. I may not have the most up to date knowledge about our current code base, but when everyone was on the new stuff I was able to help others again - I'm not as rusty as I thought! I'm busy trying to get more  knowledge at home (not easy with a full time job again and a child of 14 months old!), and am building my own online application as a training exercise. Once I have something I may even post a link here and you can all laugh at my efforts :)

Speaking of the little guy, he is wonderful! We celebrated his birthday in February and bought him too many presents. Way too many presents. That many that we didn't even give them all to him and he was still that tired of opening them on the day that the last one he got he ignored almost completely!

He is about to start walking too - walking along the table, walking holding our hands (in his first real shoes - which for such tiny things are not cheap! They cost more  than some of my shoes!) and just today actually took his first step unaided. From my arms, letting go an going a couple of inches to his mama. It's going to be interesting when he really gets going!

He still loves his books (and is currently very interested in my old .Net 2.0 text book!) and can't sleep without a story. I just hope that stays :)

And he is starting to talk :) It's just amazing to watch him grow!

And finally... I'm busy working on my confidence right now. That is something I really miss for my job and I am trying to challenge myself more and more. Both with participation, feedback and just being me.

The most visible part of this is my clothes. I have spent the last few years being very worried that people are judging my clothes with thoughts of 'is she trying to hard?' And before I buy anything, or even wear anything this is a question I ask myself. Well, I'm stopping. I now have a couple of dresses from British Retro (really awesome dresses!). Full circle, below the knee swing dresses. With a full petticoat. I think they are awesome! They really, really stand out (though still pass Jenny's Tesco test - I shop in them!) and I feel great in them. I feel that this may be the staple of my wardrobe for the coming couple of years and plan to enjoy it!

Right, time to get back to another mini project - a window application that compares two folders organised differently and lets you know what the differences are. I'm sure I could download a tool to do it, but really, making your own is just so much more satisfying!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

2014 - what a mixed bag!

It's been a couple of months since I posted anything here. There is a good reason for that (and for me being so quite in the comment sections of others blogs!), but I'll come to that later.

I'm normally not one for that was the year that was, but this year I want to do something. It has been amazing, heart rending, emotional and painful in more ways that one. Let's see where this goes...

January started with the broken boiler a week or two before my son was due to be born. Stress and very likely an overpriced boiler later we had heating (and no CO) again!

February was the mixed bag of the year. On valentines day my son was born after a traumatic week for both Mrs Stace and I. A difficult birth, in a room full of doctors and nurses working hard to make sure he came into the world safely (as opposed to a mid wife and normal delivery) had me totally petrified.

I managed three weeks with him before I was called back to the office due to another team lead needing to leave the country for a family emergency. Those weeks were simply amazing!

We saw my parents who came for a week to see him, though dad was not well, the doctors though that he had a vitamin deficiency and would need three monthly injections for the rest of his life.

Sadly, this was not the case. At the start of March he was diagnosed as having bowel cancer and needed an operation urgently as the surgeon thought that they had caught it early enough.

Scottish NHS however had different ideas and it was nearly two months later (after several screw ups from the hospital) before he actually had the operation. By this time it had burst out of the bowel and there were three external cancers that the surgeon also had to remove whilst on the operating table. On the bright side, he could not see more damage, and dad did not need a stoma as a result of the surgery.

The fact that the cancer had spread though moved him from a low risk patient to a high risk, and so chemo was considered necessary. And very harsh preventative chemo too, something that we were not warned about.

His first course was fine, he coped well. The second saw him get very poorly, and the third put him in hospital for 10 days or so with complications and infections.

Over the summer I got a call from the VU (hospital) about surgery (woot!). They expected it to be in August, or at the latest September.

We saw our son grow, start to get a personality, and start to take a very real interest in his surroundings. Watching someone grow up in front of you, from a tiny and helpless baby to someone with a personality and wanting to do things with you is such a magical experience.

He has also been ill a few times, and I have never been so scared in all of my life.

But come September still no operation. Quite the opposite, when I called for an update I was told not September, maybe October. Great.

October came and I finally got the call from the VU. 10th or 11th November for my operation. Holy crap! All of a sudden everything became really... Real. Time to start lots of handovers at work, and time to start preparing!

Only, it wasn't the 10th or the 11th. A few weeks after the first call it was changed to 18th November, and I started to get scared that it would be cancelled. I was refusing to believe that it was going to happen until it actually did...

For the next few weeks I was a bit of a wreck, and then came to my last week. It was really quite boring - which I took as a good sign, better than a busy one with lots of last minute questions!

And then, in hospital! Which is kind of a chapter all to itself (which I am trying to write before I forget it!).

December has been recovery, scares and parties where I could not join in anywhere near as much as I wanted to! And a lot of support from people, for which I am deeply grateful! That support got me through some very tough times over the last weeks.

The little guy has seen his first Sinterklaas, and his first Christmas - which we spent in a holiday home with the in laws and had a great time.

On Christmas Eve dad took his last tablet - and as long as the next scan is clear, as the last was, then he has the same chance of remission as someone who never had it in the first place.

New year was spent at home with the little guy (thankfully) sleeping through the fireworks and Mrs Stace and I staying up till midnight to see the new year in.

2014 was a mixed bag. It was the year I thought I was going to lose my dad, but it was also the year that I finally had my operation and most importantly of all, the year that we got our son. And for that it will always be special!