Find your own place in the rainbow
|General Transition Progress 2007
This is a record of the general progress in my transition, including such things as deciding on my name and the procedure for transitioning on the NHS. These are the more noteworthy milestones, but more day to day events can be found in my LiveJournal: Ganimede - The Boy Inside.
January 9, 2007: Coming Out Anniversary
Today marks three years since I came out to myself. I can't believe it's only three years really - despite how long it seemed at the time. I had so many doubts; doubts that I was really Trans, doubts that I could actually transition, doubts that I really wanted T, doubts that I could actually go through with surgery.
I suppose it just goes to show that you don't know what you're capable of until it comes down to it. I do think, however, that I wouldn't have come as far without the support of a lot of my friends that I found both on LiveJournal and in Yay for Queers, and without the frequent arsekickings I got from Michael. Thank you all so much.
February 20, 2007: Endocrinologist Appointment #1 (attempt 2)
I went to the Claybrook today for my appointment with the endocrinologist, Dr Seal. He was a very nice man though, very friendly and seemed easy enough to talk to. He started asking me a whole barrage of questions, ranging from what was my birth like, through to puberty and what changes I'd had from T: the bleeding - so I explained what the situation was there although he already knew there was an issue - body hair, beard growth, mood swings and libido. After that he asked about my family, was there anyone else with gender dysphoria? any homosexuality? any babies born where they couldn't tell if they were male or female? Any family history of diabetes, strokes, heart attacks or breast cancer? His final questions were about my orientation, if I'd ever had sex with a man and if I'd ever had chlamydia because apparently that can have some effect regarding bleeding. After that, he wanted to check my weight, blood pressure and listen to my heart. He also said he wanted to feel my stomach, but he didn't do that for some reason. When he was listening to my heart, which he did from my chest, not my back, he asked if he could see my scars to check how I healed. He was rather impressed, I think, he said it was a good cosmetic result. That's Dr Brownstein's work for you.
So, all of that had left me feeling a bit confused as to how it all fitted in with hormones but I think he was just trying to get a general idea of where a problem could have originated from. There was then an icky science moment (so skip to the next paragraph if you don't want to know about icky bleeding stuff!) He explained about hormones work, how everyone has oestrogen and testosterone which I was already aware of, and how with female bodied individuals, the oestrogen builds up the lining and progesterone removes it, but if you're on T, there is no progesterone so it can in some cases, build up and up and up. Apparently that happens with 15% of people so it's not uncommon. (I think I've got all that right, I was partially squirming and not wanting to listen.)
Anyway, he said that he wants me to go for an ultrasound to check if that's what's happening and he also wants blood tests, to see what my oestrogen levels are - if your levels of testosterone are too high, it gets converted into oestrogen which obviously I don't want and won't help the situation much! If my blood tests and the ultrasound is fine, then he'll know that he can change my dose to every 2 weeks. If that's not possible, then my dose will stay at 3 weeks and I get progesterone tablets to take daily to stop the bleeding instead.
He seemed to have an idea of what he was talking about, unlike some of the people at the Claybrook who seem to contradict each other on a regular basis when they're not talking out their arses. At least I know what the options are, and what can be done. I'd much rather have come away with a change in dose so that it can be put a stop to asap, but at least he's making sure that's safe to do and will be the right thing, instead of just trying something willy-nilly. Now I just have to wait until my GP gets the letter from Dr Seal and sorts out the ultrasound for me. I don't expect that's going to happen in a hurry either. I'm a little apprehensive, I have no idea what it's going to involve and I'm hoping it's not going to be invasive.
April 19, 2007: Ultrasound Date
I'd been away on holiday for 4 weeks and was going through all the post when I came across a letter from the hospital giving me an appointment date for the ultrasound. I was impressed until I looked at the actual date of the appointment. Thursday, April 19th at 3.20pm. Which was in about an hour and a half. Great! There was no way I was going to go so I rang them up to explain that I'd literally just arrived home from holiday so I wouldn't be able to make the appointment. The woman I spoke to was very understanding and made me a new appointment on May 3rd at 3.00pm. She was telling me that I had to report to the Maternity Reception and then said "Don't worry, we know you're not pregnant!" I think that's because she thinks of me as being male, but I have no idea what she thinks I'm going for! That could be interesting.
April 27, 2007: Charing Cross Appointment
I was supposed to have an appointment today with Dr Lorimer at the Claybrook Centre, but I cancelled it the other day. I realised that as the appointment was to discuss having a hysterectomy, it would be a better idea to see him after I've got the results of the ultrasound. The woman I spoke to said that the next available appointment she had with Dr Lorimer was in December but I didn't mind that. She actually rang me back a little while later and said she'd had a cancellation for June 13th, so I've got that one instead.
I think I'd much rather get the issues with my dose of T sorted out first, before anything else happens. Initially, I wanted to have a hysterectomy as soon as possible so that it was all done and I could move on with the rest of my life, but that was my intention not longer after I'd had top surgery. I'd not been on T very long then and didn't realise that I was going to still be having problems with the monthly hell at this late stage. Right now, I'd rather get my dose sorted out, especially after having cramps and bleeding this week for the second time this month. That's on top of the mood swings that I appear to have developed which I also want to get shut of.
Then there's the fact that I have about zero confidence in any surgery on the NHS right now, especially after all the news lately about MRSA and people dying from it after relatively simple surgeries. As if surgery isn't scary enough, there's the added risk of contracting an infection and dying from it because of the state of the hospitals. No thank you. Somehow, I don't think Charing Cross will understand that concern.
May 3, 2007: Ultrasound Appointment
Drinking 1½ pints of water in two minutes flat is not fun. It made me feel really bloated before I'd even drunk it all as well. I suppose that's sort of the point though really. The worst thing was that I needed to pee desperately only 15 minutes later and I had 45 more to go before my appointment.
It was really hot driving to the hospital. When I got there, the car park was full and I had problems parking and ended up parking quite a way from the entrance. I needed to pee so badly it was painful. It was very strange walking into the Maternity department though. When I got in the department, I couldn't see any signs for the Ultrasound at all and had to ask for directions. I was trying to hurry as it was already 3 o'clock - I'd phoned from the car park to say I'd arrived but would be a bit late - but if I walked any faster, I felt that my bladder would explode and on top of that I had to go up to the second floor and couldn't find a lift. Thankfully when I arrived, I barely waited a minute before my name was called.
The nurse person was very nice. She asked if I'd had plenty to drink and said that they didn't ask for a full bladder to be cruel! I asked why it was necessary and she explained it to me which was really good of her. The actual ultrasound was fine, she explained what she was doing all the way through which is always a great thing. I was worried at one point that if she pressed on my bladder any harder, I was going to burst then and there. She said it all looks fine though which was good to hear. I was most relieved that she didn't bat an eyelid that someone with a male name and hopefully looking male needed to have female bits checked out. The whole thing took about ten minutes and then it was all over and I could find the nearest toilet. Now I need to see my GP about the results - I have an appointment on May 30th - and then they can be sent off to Dr Seal.
June 2, 2007: T musings
To my surprise, I got a letter from my GP this morning. It said:
"Further to our consultation on 30/5/2007 I am writing to inform you that Dr Seal has recommended that the frequency of your Sustanon injections be increased to every 2 weeks. This would make your next injection due on or around 5/6/2007 and you may wish to make a new appointment with the nurse to have this procedure carried out."That was even more of a surprise! I was expecting to have to wait until my next appointment with Dr Seal before I got the go-ahead to change to every fortnight. Unfortunately, the nurses get booked up really quickly, so I doubt I'll be able to change my appointment from June 12th to the 5th which is a bit annoying. The letter also said that I have to have more blood tests after my fourth fortnightly shot, presumably to make sure that things are okay.
Hopefully, things should start picking up from here, by which I mean an end to the monthly hell - or bi-monthly as it is now - and the mood swings. I didn't realise I was having them at first but when I became aware of it, I was kind of embarrassed about it. It's not a nice feeling at all, it's kind of like having no control over your emotions and I don't like losing control at all. I'm not looking forward to having to go to the surgery every two weeks for my shot though, but these things we have to do. I'm also a little concerned at what it's going to do to my peak level. It was already at maximum when I was having my shot every three weeks so it seems to me that on this dosage, it's going to go sky high. I'll just have to wait and see.
June 13, 2007: Charing Cross Appointment #6
I had fun getting down to Charing Cross today because not only was my train running late, but the centre had moved and I got a bit lost trying to find it. I had to wait a few minutes for Dr Lorimer but that was okay, it gave me chance to catch my breath and cool off; I'd forgotten how roasting the Tube gets in the summer. He called me through and introduced himself. He commented on the fact that I'd seen several of them there, and said that I'd nearly got the set. I asked if I got anything when I did and he said I got a presentation case. So, I pretty much liked him from the start. He said that he'd had a look through my notes and read my life story but that he wanted to recap and apologised for going over old ground. Finally he asked about why I wanted a hysterectomy so I said that it was to eliminate a risk and also to put an end to the bleeding. I'd already said that I was still having breakthrough bleeding, and that I'd spent most of last week with it. He'd looked extremely surprised by that but said that hopefully, changing to having my shot every two weeks should put an end to it. He said that both reasons were good ones and that with still having the breakthrough bleeding at this stage, he thought that having a hysto would be a good thing. He explained that it's a fairly common procedure, and it doesn't need a specialised surgeon so there's not as much of a wait as there would be for top surgery. He did say that the surgeon needs to be informed what sort of scar to leave and the issues around it, and the medical staff need to be informed about having a male patient with a typically female operation, so that I don't get put in the Gyno ward and things like that. He said he was happy to tell my GP to go ahead with the referral.
He then asked what my GP was like, so I said that she was extremely cautious and wouldn't do anything without the go ahead from Charing Cross. He said that some GPs were like that which made it difficult, but that they were putting together a textbook for GPs with their procedures and that kind of thing which should help. I think that was when I said I'd asked her about self injecting and her response that it wouldn't be a good idea. He seemed baffled and concerned about that, asking if that meant I was going to the surgery every two weeks for a shot. He said that self injecting would give me independence from that and that he'd mention it in his letter to her. I didn't mention how nerve-wracking I would find it, it is something I want although I'm dreading it at the same time. I don't find having my shots as scary as I once did which is something, so I'm hoping I'll be able to work up to it.
Before I left, he mentioned that he was happy to keep me on but he didn't think there was any real need for it. He didn't like to think of me travelling all the way down there, especially for no real reason. He asked what I thought, if I felt I needed to keep going so I said no. Obviously, I'll have to go to see Dr Seal but there's no other reason for me to go down. He said that I might later, for a GRC so he'll keep my file open, and told me that if I find that I'm missing them and that I just have to go down for a chat that I've to let them know. So after saying that it would take about 5 weeks or so for the letter to be done, that was pretty much about it.
So now I just have to wait for the letter from Dr Lorimer. He said it would only take a few months for me to have the surgery which surprised me and also makes me rather nervous. I'm not looking forward to having more surgery, even if it's the last one that I'm planning on having. I don't want to have the old fashioned type hysto which has a six month recovery time and I worry that the surgeon won't have a clue about what I do want. I also don't have much faith in the NHS hospitals and don't relish staying in one for however long it takes. I can't take time off from work at the moment which I did explain to Dr Lorimer but I'm not sure how much bearing that will have. It's strange how little control I feel that I have over this compared to having top surgery with Dr Brownstein. It's really not a nice feeling.
June 17, 2007: Happy Name Day
It's now two years today since I legally became Nathaniel Robert. Has it really/only* been two years?! There was a long time when I thought I'd never get to this point at all, certain people will remember that.
August 23, 2007: Endocrinologist Date #2
I got a letter from the Claybrook Centre today giving me the date of my next appointment with the endo. It was supposed to be on November 26th, but they cancelled it and it's now on October 15th. I don't really know what to expect from the appointment, I'm just hoping that it'll get me a bit closer to getting the correct dose of T for me.
October 15, 2007: Endocrinologist Appointment #2
I had another trip down to London yesterday to see Dr Seal at Charing Cross. It was a very easy journey for a change; I arrived a little early and the waiting room was quite full which was rather strange as there's never usually many others waiting. I was called at 10 past 2 which was a bit late and I think Dr Seal was trying to make up time because my appointment felt rather rushed.
His first question was pretty much 'Are you still bleeding?' so I had to reply that it had gone to every other month, but in July and August I bled in consecutive months and that August's had been heavier and longer than usual. There was nothing in September and nothing so far in October, but it's too early to tell whether it has gone or just reverted back to the two month cycle. He checked if all the other effects of T were okay so I said that I was still having some mood swings amongst other issues. He said that he wants me to take a tablet - he did tell me the name of it but it meant nothing to me and I forgot it within minutes - and that should sort out the bleeding and everything else. I presume it's the progesterone that he mentioned last time. I asked him how long I'd need to take that for and he said until I have a hysterectomy. I have no idea when that is going to be so didn't I feel reassured by that. When I've had that, he wants to put me on Nebido which he said has been giving some very positive results. After that, I had to go and get blood drawn and then it was all done. I'd been given my next appointment before I left and it's on August 18th, 2008. Apparently, that's the earliest one they had but I'm fully expecting it to change before then anyway.
So now as usual I have to wait for the letter to get to my GP and for her to contact me to tell me to make an appointment to discuss it before I can even start with these tablets. Charing Cross don't hurry sending letters out so I'm not expecting to get things started until the beginning of next year. I'm not really happy with the decision to do this anyway; I feel like there's been very little in the way of trying to get my dose right or even trying a different form of T and that if more of that had been done, then I wouldn't have to take these flipping tablets. I feel like I'm on a drug that's having side effects and instead of trying a different one to stop them, I've been given another drug to counteract them instead which is stupid. I don't really know what I can do about that either, I don't think there's anything I can do so I feel completely stuck. I'm just hoping that the bleeding stops on its own, but even so, that doesn't stop the other negative side effects I've been having.
December 13, 2007: T-Day
Happy T Day to me! It's now two years since I started on T if you can believe it! I know I can't. Where has the time gone?