Sunday, September 23, 2012

24 Days 'till Surgery & 3 Weeks 'till I Arrive in Cali.

Laying here in bed thinking again.  It's something I like to do... think.  Three weeks from right now I'll be laying in the hotel bed at the Residence Inn Mariott in San Mateo, California.  Getting ready to go to sleep so I can get to both doctor appointments the next day.  I likely will have just come from the hotel's heated pool.  Since I can't go swimming for 6+ weeks after surgery I plan to go while I can now that I'm hooked on swimming again so badly.

I expect I'll be a nervous wreck.  I think I'll ask Dr. Bowers for some medication to calm my nerves for the last couple days.  I'm sure she can give me any number of a dozen things to relax me and/or help me sleep.  Somehow seriously doubt I'm the first patient she's had that's nervous about surgery.  lol

I really only worry because my health is so awful.  I have a pretty crappy history as far as post-op recovery.  Those 13 surgeries for Crohn's Disease and related side effects were rough.  But truthfully I know I'll be fine.  And in a few months I'll be looking back at this blog reading this and chuckling and crying cause I'll be so happy.  I just tend to worry a lot.  I get that from both my parents.  Which is a big part of why the three of us have been driving each other insane.

So just waiting.  Times going so fast and yet so slow.  I have all my medical supplies except for one or two minor things I can pick up anywhere.  Will need more of most of this stuff but I have enough to get myself through the difficult parts right after surgery.  Not much else to do.  I'm going to purchase some decent luggage before I go.  That's really my last significant thing to do in my mind.  Last time I borrowed my dad's billion year old horrible piece of crap suitcase.  It was a challenge to close the zippers every time.  And it was basically just not very easy to carry, pull, open, use, or fit anything in.  Going to get a 3 piece set when I get my money in October.  A decent sized suitcase I can put my clothes in.  Something big enough to hold boots and jackets and so forth.  Also want pockets to separate things.  And room to put like device chargers and adapters and such.  Then need a carry-on that can hold my meds and the cushion I'll have to sit on and the likely breakable souvenirs I plan to buy before surgery at the comic shop in San Mateo and post-op at George Lucas ILM Studios.

Another thing that's worrying me is that it's starting to get harder and harder to focus on how happy I will be afterwards.  And it's becoming easier and easier to focus on the surgery.  Which of course makes me freak out and worry and panic.  I know everything will be alright but thinking about the details of the surgery still horrifies me.  I want it done but really don't want to know about it.  Kinda wish I was less knowledgeable than I am sometimes.  lol  Just knowing the specifics of the operation makes me freak.

My one other big fear is that it's happening so fast I don't have a lot of time to get things done.  I have been planning to get some pre-op pics taken but my friend is having issues getting in touch with the person to use the studio.  This is a huge deal to me right now.  I am so freaked out about going through surgery and having no record or anything of the past.  Especially with such an awful memory.  I'm scared of losing everything.  I want something more than my failing memory.  And I'm hoping to put together this book down the road.  But if surgery comes and goes without these pics I'm screwed.  I know my friend is trying all he can.  But again, I worry a lot.  And time is going so fast I'm in total panic mode about everything.

And on top of all this I haven't had time to hang out with a lot of my friends.  I feel like I'm neglecting people.  I know at least one of them that's already mad at me because of it.  And I don't know what to do about it.  There's just too much happening at once.  My brain is spinning in my head.  And my dad calls up to yell at me every day about going out anywhere.  I told him I hardly did anything last week except stuff with him and my mom and he was still pissed that I went to game night last night.  It's like seriously?  I don't need this shit right now.  Hell I could be dead in 24 days!

In the end all I can say is I'll be glad when all this is over.  The stress, the aggravation, the worry, the fear, the headaches, the difficulties, the anticipation, the waiting, all of it.  So close and so far.  I just want it to all be over so I can relax for a minute and not have to worry about anything.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Short Lonely Post

Fell asleep soon after that last blog post.  And woke up later today feeling so strange.  Watched some emotional videos on Youtube that clearly didn't help.  Can't seem to shake this feeling and it's getting more intense.  Really want a hug right now, or ideally someone to cuddle with.  Just feel like I need to be held.  Not sure what really brought this on or where it's coming from.  Have this strange nagging feeling like something happened somewhere.  I don't know what or where, can't help but feel crazy.  Tried to call and/or text 4 different friends to talk and none of them are around so that didn't help a whole lot.  It's weird because I feel happy, excited about being in the final month till surgery.  But this random loneliness won't go away.  Going to watch a movie and hope that breaks me out of it.

The Final Month!

Well, I'm almost there.  After decades of no hope, decades of struggling, and a million hurdles.  One month left.  Yep, mind-blowing.  One month or four weeks and two days or 30 days or a mind-blowingly short 720 hours.  Have had 39 years like this yet as the date gets closer I feel a bit rushed for time.  Part of me feels like I still have so much left to do to prepare.  I'm still missing most of the medical supplies I'll need.  And I am just not sure how comfortable the clothes I have will be after surgery.  I feel like I need to buy so many things and not enough time or money.  I feel like I still have so much to do but really there isn't much left.  All the bills are paid.  All the plans are made.  That which needs scheduling is scheduled.  All papers sent, everything filled out, auto-biography done, pics mailed, flight booked, hotel booked, hospital set up, surgeons set up, transportation set up.  Surreal.  It's all surreal.  I feel like I'm going to wake up out of this foggy dream-like state and none of this will have happened.  After all I've been through in my life it's hard for my brain to really grasp that this is happening.  Seems too good to be true and you know how that usually works out.

Went through quite the emotional roller coaster this last month leading up to today.  Didn't help that I had several other, non-transition related, very emotional things happen along the way.  But I also had time to think and get away from it all in the middle there.

See, when I first got that call from Dr. Bowers that night at Flannigan's while eating with my parents, I freaked.  It was unexpected.  So soon.  Felt like I had only just left her office!  And then with my far too intense memory I was able to visualize myself going into surgery.  One day, while at that point where you're asleep but not really.  Where you have these vivid dreams you can't tell if it's real or not.  And yet you are awake enough to actually control it if you know what you're doing.  Well I was in that state.  Visualized myself in the wheelchair being pushed into the operating room.  With the IV in my arm, the heart monitor, hospital gown, those awful tight leg stocking things.  Getting on the hard metal bed.  Complaining that it hurts my back while I try to put a hair net on.  Talking to the nurses and doctors nonstop because I'm so nervous.  And then knowing they're about to knock me out.  Seeing the anesthesiologist sit next to me and give me the "I'm going to give you something to relax first.  Then I want you to start counting backwards from 100" speech.  Knowing once I fall asleep, what I've had for 39.5 years will be gone, permanently, forever...  Yeah total freak out even typing this right now.  Makes my heart race, I feel faint, adrenaline rushing in my chest, horrific fear, mind rushing, scared that I'm making a huge mistake.  Scared that something might go wrong.  That I might never be able to have sex again.  That I may have medical complications for the rest of my life.  So many thoughts all at once, too much.  Scariest thing EVER!

But time passed.  And as long as I didn't visualize that, didn't think about it or dwell on it I was mostly ok.  But then I had a few personal, very saddening things happen.  And part of me wanted to just give up on life for a bit.  I found myself losing motivation, losing control over my emotions, getting upset a lot, getting aggravated by everything and everyone.  Found myself drinking a lot, more and more every day.  Was starting to really feel crazy, spiraling out of control and couldn't figure out why.  Then, I started to notice physical things.  Hair was falling out by handfuls again!  Morning erections.  Random spontaneous erections.  Unusually hot and sweaty all the time.  Loss of breast sensitivity.  Hostility, short temperedness.  Couldn't think clearly about anything.  Was making one bad decision or choice after the other.  Crazy hungry all the time.  Acne breakouts.  I was a total wreck for a bit.  Even my facial hair seemed to come back in thicker suddenly when it was almost totally gone a few weeks earlier.

It was somewhere around this point that I realized my hormones had to be screwed up.  I'm surprised I even figured that out considering I could barely think straight enough to function.  So I went to my endocrinologist.  And yep, that was it.  By a LOT.  My previous visit my estrogen was 131 and my testosterone was 10.  At this visit she told me my estrogen was 30 and my testosterone was 400+!!!!  No wonder!  Right?  What an AWFUL feeling.  Can't tell you how upset I was.  So she doubled my oral estradiol and medroxyprogesterone.  But right after her appointment I had one with my OB/GYN and he did not like how I described the way I was feeling.  He said I needed help quick and that pills were going to take weeks.  So he prescribed the injectable estrogen for a couple weeks.  The irony of this is that this was the first time in my entire life that my hormones were at what is considered normal levels for a male my age.  Before I started HRT my estrogen was 130 something and my testosterone was over 1200.  So for the first time my body was operating like a normal male...  And I HATED IT!  It only helped to reaffirm how much I want surgery.  Made me want to castrate myself!  NO woman should EVER have to feel like that!  Beyond torture, worst feeling I've ever felt.

Well, after some insurance difficulties I finally got the estrogen shot.  Felt better almost immediately.  By the next day I was calm and could think clearly again.  My brain stopped racing in circles and I felt like I was under control again.

This coincided with the beginning of my 10 days of house sitting for friends.  What an experience this was.  I'll always be eternally grateful for them letting me house sit right then.  I had a chance to go to the pool (which is something I have only recently felt comfortable doing again after 25 years without setting foot near one).  I had time to meditate, to do yoga, to exercise, to relax.  To confirm to myself that I am still capable of taking care of myself, pets and life on my own.  The chance to taste freedom again.  That feeling of being able to go out at 4a.m. if you want without having to come up with reasons or explanations.  The ability to just walk around the house wearing whatever I want, or nothing.  To decide what I want to do, when I want to eat, and to not have any of it be dependent on the actions of what someone else is doing (namely my mom).  Of course, because my life can never be simple, Hurricane Isaac decided to hit us the last 3 days of my house sitting.  While not awful, it did prevent me from continuing to go to the pool.

Well, during those last few days while the storm was passing over, I spent a lot of time laying on the couch watching the Weather Channel and just thinking.  And then, while dozing off, mostly asleep, I had another one of my mind wandering visualizations.  But this time not before surgery, not even waking up after.  This time I saw myself years later.  I could see myself happy, I could feel the difference, like I'm not hiding something.  How different it will be to be able to say, yes, I'm a woman, without feeling like there's more I should be adding on to that.  Without feeling like there's a "but" on the tip of my tongue.  Being able to focus on other things finally without having to have my transition take up most of my life.  Out talking and helping others.  Living in my own place.  Going out dating again.  Going to the beach.  All those things I either haven't been able to do, wasn't comfortable doing, or even when I did them felt like something was "off".

And I realized a lot thinking about that when I woke up.  I realized how over these last decades I had given up so many times.  I was resigned in the fact that I'd never be truly happy.  That no matter how hard I tried to be that person, I still felt broken, disabled, poor, weak, beaten down, hopeless, alone, and not fully a woman.  Even though I felt and thought of myself as one.  I've always had that nagging feeling that even though I feel like it I'm not, cause there's that physical discrepancy there that no matter how hard I tried to hide I would always know it's still there.

But when I saw myself in the future.  I didn't see a weak, pathetic, poor, disabled, unhappy, broken, alone, struggling, transwoman.  I saw a strong, independent, healthy, happy, successful, woman surrounded by friends and loved ones.  And for the first time I can remember in almost 40 years I feel like that's 100% achievable.  That I really can be and will be the person I've always dreamt of being.  And that thought blows my mind.  It's still surreal.  It's so amazing.  I still feel like I'm asleep and scared to wake up.  But I see hope, I see the light at the end of the tunnel, I see the future I've always wanted and I'm going in the right direction for once in my crazy life.

And so I became excited.   Yeah, if I think through the details leading up to surgery I still get horrified and freak out.  But I KNOW it's right.  And as long as I can keep focused on that dream I'll be fine.  I want it so bad I can't put it into words.  I NEED this operation more than air at this point.  And yes, I'd rather die on the table trying to be myself than live another second or 60 more years in this lie.  This body was not supposed to be how it is.  And it must be set right at any cost.

My biggest rational fear though has been not being able to have sex.  Not being able to have an orgasm.  I love sex.  I've been told in therapy before that I have an addiction.  But that the addiction to sex isn't the problem it's what you do about it.  So I've come to accept this.  And I'm ok now with the fact that I want to have sex with pretty much everyone all the time.  It's not a bad thing.  Just who I am.  But the fear of losing that is scary as hell!

But I've talked to others.  I've talked to friends.  Other patients of Dr. Bowers.  And not one of them is unhappy.  Everyone is the happiest they've ever been.  No one had problems or complications really.  And they all say everything works perfectly.  I've been told by post-op tranwomen that they've had six orgasms in an hour.  And that it doesn't feel "that' different.  The brain takes time for the nerves to reroute and stuff.  Cause your brain will still be acknowledging things for what they were not what they are I guess.  Like you think you're feeling this part of your body but it's not that anymore it's now this.  Which makes sense.  And I hear it takes awhile to relearn how to have sex, and how to go to the bathroom and shower and clean yourself and everything.  Much like having brain damage.  Have to relearn basic bodily functions.  So now, the science geek in me has her curiosity peaked.  I still think I'm more excited than anything.  But curiosity is building as another strong motivating force.  The whole thing fascinates me really.

So, am I scared?  Hell yeah.  Am I excited?  Like a little kid on Christmas Eve.  Like a teenage girl at an Elvis concert in the late 1950s.  So excited I can barely stand it.  Am I curious?  Very much so.  And am glad there will be pics and video before, during and after because it's all pretty amazing.

What now???  Wait...  The thing I'm probably worst at yet most used to doing.  No more bumming cigs off friends, no more alcohol at all, increasing vitamin intake (especially vitamin C), continuing to eat healthier and exercise more.  And continue to wait...  One month...  four weeks and two days...  30 days...  720 hours...  Tick Tock...  Tick...  Tock...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New Insight Into the Mystery That Is My Mom

Tonight I figured something out! While I was driving home in the rain and lightning, listening to music, thinking about how happy I am now about my upcoming surgery, and how much my face still hurts from laser removal earlier in the day.  I had a bit of a revelation about my mom.

While my mom has been pretty crazy and unpredictable for the greater part of the last two decades, it's only been since I started my medical transition (i.e. HRT, therapy, laser, etc.) that she's really been out of control to the point of being nearly impossible to live with.  I mean she was already being impossible to live with before.  But I didn't use to feel like she was directly attacking my gender and orientation all the time like now.

For 17 or 18 years now my mom has known about everything and seemingly supported me.  But last July began the real nightmare.  At first she was like, "You did what?" when she found out I had started HRT.  Then it was non-stop just telling me how this is going to hurt me physically and make me sick.  Which we all know the reality is the exact opposite, that this will make me happier and healthier.

From there she's gone on to try and thwart my every move.  She's randomly insulted all my friends for either being trans or being whatever orientation or for just supporting me at all.  She's refused to go to any support group, therapy, or education with me.  She won't even hear me speak!  She's constantly making assumptions about me, my life, and the world around me.

For over a year now I've been asking myself, "Where is this coming from?"  "What changed to cause this?"  "What did I do wrong?"  "Why won't she even try to understand anymore?"  "Why does she hate me now?"  "Was she abducted by aliens?"  All the usual questions.

She tried to stop me from getting my legal paperwork done.  Kept trying to convince me I'd lose my disability or insurance or whatever.  She tries to make it sound like everyone is trying to use me for something because I was raised and taught by her my whole life to never volunteer for anything.

Over the last couple months, since July 2012 when I had my surgical consultation and set up my date for GRS she's been acting crazier than ever.  One minute she's telling me she doesn't care what happens to me and she prays to God that I die during surgery.  She'll tell me she's going to burn down the house.  That she's going to drive off the side of the expressway ramp.  Offers me her gone telling me to just shoot myself.  So many horrific things.  Now while she's done that before.  It was never like this.

Then out of the blue she'll be all nice again, start telling me she loves me and cares and is worried.  And usually follows that up immediately by asking me to do something for her.  And I hadn't made the connection here.  This was one of the things that once I connected the pieces I realized was related to her craziness.  The things she's been needing help with.  Going to court to get her accident stuff done "before I go to California"...  I was like why does this matter?  She needed me to help her fix the washing machine that was jammed by lint and crap in the exhaust area under the middle hub dohickey.  She needed me to fix 3 overhead light fixtures.  Had me update her old resume and fix it so she had 3 different ones.  She had me help her jump start the other car.  Helped her fill out tons of job applications.  Just a lot of what seemed like random stuff.

But it's not!  They are not things she was confused over.  Not things she just "needed help with."  There are all very specific things that she either would not or could not do on her own...  And then I remembered what she said about she knows I'm going to kill myself by having this surgery.  Not that she's worried it might go wrong.  Not that she thinks I'm going actually kill myself.  But that she thinks my having the surgery will be what kills me.


She thinks I'm going to die.  Not a worry.  But she really believes I'm going to die either in surgery or recovery.  She was there for my 13 surgeries from Crohn's Disease and Crohn's related conditions.  She was there when I code blued three times.  She knows what a rough time I've had in recovery.  That's what it is.  The good, bad and ugly of what she's been doing over the last year is cause she's convinced I'm going to die.

Why this makes sense?

She's getting all the things done she will need to survive on her own without me.  All the things she can't do on her own.  She's trying to make herself hate me so as to distance her from the pain of my death she's expecting.  The she snaps and realizes she does care every now and then and feels guilty.  She's given up trying to stop me the last couple months and she's preparing herself for my death.

Now, at first glance this seems awful and sad and like oh wow, what a shame and all that right?  But no!  This is actually GREAT!  Because you know what that means?  It means once I'm done with surgery and I don't die and go on to be happy she has no reason to be all pissed anymore.  No reason to be scared.  No reason to hate.

It seems so obvious to me now knowing her as I do.  I feel awful for her going through this but she doesn't have to be so I don't feel in anyway responsible.  I mean she could have chosen to deal with it like my dad has.  But she's chosen to freak out and convince herself I'm going to die.  And since she refuses to go to any classes or groups or therapists or to even read a book or a website, she will not ever understand it.  At least not before surgery.  Maybe afterwards when I live and she calms down a bit I may actually be able to get her to go to a class or something.  I myself feel better though now that this whole puzzle has been made clear.

I think when surgery is done and I'm happy I'll just be nice about it.  My initial response is going to be me wanting to be all obnoxious about it and all like, "I told you so!"  But I think I'll just be happy and let it go like everything else pre-op.  Just start fresh and move forward with her hopefully being a bit less crazy and negative about my life.  And yes, I am very convinced I'm right about this whole thing.  lol

35 days left...