Sunday, December 30, 2012

The anti-resolution post

So I will not dwell on 2012 ... it pretty much sucked.  Too much death, too much illness and injury, too much sorrow.  The sole bright point was my decision to pursue my transition and continuing on this path despite all the negatives.

I have avoided resolutions for many years ... since I was a child, actually.  I remember my siblings insisting that I make a resolution ... and usually an unattainable one.  Often it was something to do with controlling my temper or eating more healthy.  They would then spend the next several days or weeks trying to get me to break my promises ... and would usually succeed.  Then they would spend the next several days or weeks preaching to me and making me feel guilty because I was not a strong enough person to keep a resolution ... despite the fact that the resolutions were not realistic ... or the fact that they either did not make one or failed to keep the ones they made.

I am not a weak person ... I am not a bad person ... I do not make resolutions.  I do, however, make goals and update the goal throughout the year as I progress ... and 2013 will be a year of changes for me.

On the fitness aspect of my changes:

- I will set up a training schedule and will be back in "running shape" by my birthday.
- I will modify my eating habits to accentuate my exercise regiment (I will still hit the buffets and sushi houses, but I will be a bit more conservative)
- I will not dwell on the number on the scale.  I will focus on feeling healthy
- I will choose and register for a marathon in 2014.  My initial goal is the San Diego Rock n Roll marathon, but that is not carved in cement.

On the transition aspect of my changes:

- I will not hurry my transition.
- I will continue my laser and electrolysis until I am beard free.
- I will go out in public as me more often (no specific numbers on when, where or whatever)
- I will explore the possibility of hormones with my doctor and will take whatever steps necessary to start hrt before the end of the year.

The two aspects of my goals are completely independent.  If I am slow on my fitness goals it will not interfere with my transition goals, and if I am struggling with my transition it will not bog down my fitness.

I will evaluate my progress (or lack thereof) on a regular basis and adjust my expectations as needed.  The fitness does not worry me too much as I have been down this road before ... I have come from totally out of shape to riding a 100 mile bike ride in under a year ... I went from no cardio base to finishing a half marathon in 5 months (it would have been a marathon, but I tore cartilage in my knee).

The transition makes me nervous.  I have never done this before and do not know what to expect.  I will keep moving forward ... I will become me and stop hiding behind this pseudo life I've built.

I wish everyone a wonderful new year and hope you all find happiness in achieving your goals along the way.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Not much to say for so much going on ...

So here's the warning first:

*** *** There are pictures of my tumor and my tubes and incision later in the post *** ***

I put them at the end in case yo do not want to see them.

Monday Dec 17 - pre-op prep time:  I am sitting on the bed, my wife is sitting on a chair.  The curtain draws back for a second and a face pops through only to disappear and the curtain closed again.  I didn't think much of it.  A minute later 2 nurses walked in to shave me.  The one who had opened the curtain seemed to be staying intentionally behind my peripheral vision and was not talking ... of course this made me want to pay more attention to her.  On close observation I noticed a couple things that might indicate she is a transwoman (a slight hint of a beard shadow, a bit of an adam's apple and larger than normal hands) ... and it does not matter, nor do I care.

At one point during the shaving she said about me, "Her armpits look pretty good."  Her voice was on the low end of female.

I didn't flinch, but I wondered if when she saw me she knew I am transgender ... or if she was worried that I would read her.  I will never know.

Dec 17 - 21:  I would love to recap the surgery, but unfortunately (or luckily) I do not remember much.  Coming out of anesthesia was rough ... I have vague recollections of my wives and sisters (2 to 3 of each) visiting as they faded in and out.  Then I slept.

The next few days were spent trying to gain strength.  I was determined to not show my distain for being stuck in the hospital.  It is not fair to the nurses and other helpers who are simply trying to kelp me.

To my surprise I actually enjoyed my stay.  I did not feel the need to act masculine ... I didn't try to act overly feminine either ... I was just me.  It was very relaxing and fun to not feel bound by some superficial expectation of what I was supposed to be.  I engaged in what would seem to be "girl talk" with a couple of the nurses and enjoyed it.  A few of the staff would use feminine pronouns and then correct themselves to match the name on my chart ... it felt good.  I did not enjoy the time away from my wife, but I know I needed the rest and medical attention ... and it gave me focus to want to get home faster.

Since returning home I have been chomping at the bit to move forward on my transition.  A big reason is the effects of the laser beard removal are more obvious.  There is almost no sign of my beard shadow ... unfortunately there are still a lot of non dark hairs, but for the time being I look a bit closer to feminine after I shave.

My primary doctor visited me in the CCU and commented on being "clean shaven" ... but I think it dawned on him that I was staying clean shaven every day.  He is smart enough to figure things out, so my first visit with him after all this may be interesting.  It would make things much easier if he brought up the subject of transition, but I'm not holding my breath.

I am seriously considering getting another ear piercing in each ear before I go back to work ... And I will more than likely buy a pair of ankle boots online ... ... We'll see.

Right now everything is about recovering, resting, healing ... ... getting healthy.

Actually, I am more able to breathe than before the surgery.  I could easily start a new exercise regiment as I get better.  I am actually excited about training again ... trying to achieve at least one of my goals ... trying for a marathon finish in 2014 (yes, more than a year from now, but I am very out of shape).  This time I am taking my time and implementing proper training tactics.  The only question will be if I cross the finish line wearing a sports bra or not.

I have my first checkup with the surgeon tomorrow.  Hopefully he will remove the two drainage tubes dangling from my back.  We'll see.

I am putting in some space lines and photos.

After the line of ***** will be the photo of the tumor and my incision.

I posted it on Facebook, so you may have already seen it.

I am just giving a fair warning in case you really do not want to look.  It really is not gross,



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Friday, December 7, 2012

Stress, Pain and Exhilaration

 So I'm not going to waste a lot of your time explaining that my wife and I are pretty nervous about the upcoming surgery ... DUH!  This is a temporary delay to my ultimate goal to transition ... and not much of a delay in many ways ... mostly it will delay talking to my doctor about hormones.  I don't want to go through such a harsh surgery, but I do not want this tumor in me any more ... it's strange, When I didn't know it was there I was fine, but knowing it's there bugs me.

I had my first laser treatment on my mustache and beard area the other day.  If I had to describe it in two words they'd be "Oh My God!!" ... OK, that was three, but it gets the point across.

Laser treatments are not fun to begin with, but laser on your upper lip, the dense hair on the chin and by the ears brings all new meaning to the word "Intense!"

I used the numbing cream, so it was not that it was unbearable ... but it was a type of discomfort I had never experienced.  And as I found out, you use the numbing cream the laser just turns up the juice to the laser.

So she starts on the sideburns ... right by the ear (Duh).  The popping of the laser and the sizzling sound of frying hair was very loud ... and a bit amusing.  I broke into chit chat quite easily and was comfortable in girl-talk mode ... it was a nice distraction to what I was feeling.  The strange thing was every zap of the 3000 or so was painful yet exhilarating.  I knew and felt myself getting closer to my goal with every pop.

The following day I went to see my counselor.  She told me that she looked into the waiting room and wondered who the lady was sitting on the couch.  I'm thrilled since I'm not living full time ... yet, but it makes me want to go in full femme mode to one of my next appointments.  The majority of the session was spent talking about how Thanksgiving went and my concerns about surgery.  I just need to get this big issue out of the way so I can focus on my transition again.














Sunday, December 2, 2012

I have a date


Yes, you read it right ... I have a date with my surgeon.

Wait ... that doesn't sound right.  I know the date for my surgery.  I will have the tumor in my chest removed December 17 ... Merry Christmas, Tiff.

I am a little bizarre when it comes to stuff like this.  I like to know, be told, or research what tools and techniques will be used for a procedure.  I stumbled across a site that shows the method that will be used to open my chest.  I do not know why they opened this guy up, but it is the procedure my surgeon described to me in our first appointment.  I cannot say that seeing the pictures makes me feel good, but at least I know what they will do to me.  I will warn you before you click on the link that the pictures are a bit graphic:


I am scared ... Aren't I always?  I'm afraid of the pain, the possible complications, the possible long term issues, the time I will be sedated.  Mostly I am worried about my wife.  This entire event has been horrible for her causing multiple anxiety attacks and worsening depression.  We have had conversations about our fears, but when push comes to shove, I get to sleep while she sits and worries.  She is very strong ... stronger than me.  I don't think I could handle being in her position.
In a strange way I worried about being outed as a transsexual, but in another way I hope I am.  Nothing bad would happen if I accidentally said who I am would it?

I don't know.

I do know that I am having the facial part of my beard lasered this week so I might look a bit more feminine.  I plan on wearing slightly feminine clothing to and home from the hospital.

 At this point I am just rambling and not accomplishing much.







Friday, November 23, 2012

Should I feel guilty?

So here is my family.  Too many to name, but as important as who is here are the ones who are not - My eldest brother and his daughter were unable to get to Ca. from Florida.  My eldest sister's husband is still in rehab after a stroke and one of her daughters stayed home.  But the biggest void is my brother Walt who escaped his continuous pain on his 60th birthday ... your presence was greatly missed dear brother.

Shortly after my last post the rest of my family showed up and the fun truly started ... I chose to do nothing ... truly nothing.  I was sociable, joked, told stories but did not lift a finger to help cook or clean up.

Pretty much every family visit I spend every evening in the kitchen or at the grill preparing dinner ... everything ... by myself.  I can manage to make enough spaghetti, sauce, meatballs and Texas toast for everyone and manage to time it so it is all hot and ready at the same time.

My brother starts off cooking.  Within a few minutes there is one of my sisters in the kitchen helping ... then my wife ... then my niece.  Pretty soon there are 6 people in the kitchen and they cannot manage to get everything simultaneously ... and on top of that my brother managed to scorch the sauce on the bottom of my wife's nice pot.  I couldn't help but giggle.

Thursday roll around and the hysteria is worse trying to heat a precooked ham.  We want to eat at 4:00, so all you have to do is heat the oven, calculate the heating time and let it go right?

Wrong!!  Apparently he needed to ensure it was just the right temperature, so he was using a meat thermometer on a spiral sliced PRECOOKED ham ... Geeze!!  Last year I cooked a turkey, stuffing, a similar precooked ham and biscuits and had it all ready at the same time.

My sister made homemade sourdough rolls.  This is noteworthy because they are so yummy ... practically an orgasm in every bite.  The problem of course was the fact that my brother could not figure out how to heat a ham and kept turning the temperature to heat it faster ... and burn the outside edges ... and dry it out ... but the rolls were good.

Another sister and her husband made the turkey, the dressing and potatoes.  The only annoyance is they never told my wife and I that they were doing the potatoes and dressing, so we bought stuff to make them ... but oh well, no biggie ... it all turned into a nice meal ... followed by the traditional pies and whatnot.

It is always bittersweet having a reunion such as this.  The food made for a festive feast.  The stories made for much reminiscing and laughter.  But the memories and laughter were hollow and painful when held in the light of my brother's suicide in June ... and the fact that this is likely the last time we will all get together with our mother.  She is not in ill health, but the affects of time are noticeable.

I tried desperately to wear tops that are feminine, but not girly ... several degrees beyond unisex.  I did not try to antagonize anyone and did not flaunt myself or clothes for the family, but I was prepared for a question or a comment about what I was wearing ... ... Nothing ... not a peep.  I know when I do officially announce that I am transgebdered that some in my family will not accept my decision.  This is yet another reason I do not foresee any future family reunions of this magnitude.

So do I feel guilty for not helping in the kitchen?

Do I feel bad that the majority of the expense was shouldered by the larger visiting families?

Am I regretting my decision to transition knowing it will likely kill any chance of any future family reunions?

The answer - No.

I have no reason to feel guilty.  I have done enough cooking and such for so many years ... maybe now others will appreciate the difficulty in getting the meals heated and served in a timely manner.

I do not feel bad that the families that have more children and more mouths to feed provide some of the food.  I do feel a little bad that the timing of my laser beard removal and impending surgery gives us less money to work with for this event ... but again, after years of providing meals they can pitch in a little.

My only regret about transitioning is that I waited 47 years to start ... although if I had started 2 years ago this week may never have happened.  I believe my slow motion approach to transitioning will make it easier for my family to see that I am not changing in any way that should be important to them ... I am just changing my appearance, my name and a few other minor things.

As a result of my additional free time over the past few days I have managed to take some interesting pictures while annoying the cats.

As usual, thank you for reading.  I am truly amazed that anybody finds my thoughts intriguing in any way.



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Rants and Rambles


So where to start ...

I don't recall if I mentioned this, but I had my second laser treatment below my jaw a week or so ago ... maybe more.  I love the smooth feeling and cannot wait until the rest of my face feels and looks smooth. This really has nothing to do with anything other than I am committing to move forward with my transition despite the fact that I remain terrified of the unknowns along the way.

I had another session with my counselor ... A billion or more things I could talk about - my tumor and surgery - my family invasion - my transition - my wife's nerves ... we wind up talking about politics, religion and other stuff.  That's what I needed, just a break from the reality of everything.  Toward the end of the session I switched gears and said, "Until a couple weeks ago I had planned to discuss the criteria of hormone therapy with you.  I know I won't be cleared for hormones for a while, but I will need a letter from a counselor ... ..."  I paused.

"And you want to know if I'll write the letter?" she asked.

I nodded.

"I believe you truly meet the criteria."  She said quite a bit which was absolutely thrilling to me.  "Yes.  Of course I'll write the letter of recommendation."

I was so happy when I left the building ... happy, excited, scared, curious, bewildered ... the list could go on for an hour.  The fact is simply that it is progress ... progress I could not have imagined six months ago.

The next day I had an echocardiogram ... I am so glad I do not have real boobs yet.  I did not know a probe could be pressed so far through the skin without leaving an actual hole ... Ouch!!  Now I just need to set the surgery date ... I want it over with, but I don't want to go through it ... I a bit scared of the entire process.

Damn ... that sounds familiar.  At least I'm consistent.

So why am I here on a Wednesday night with a festive holiday looming in the immediate future?  Well, here's the recap -

Monday - Two sisters I have not seen in a long time show up.  I would be very happy to see them, but they arrive before 7:00 in the morning while I am trying to hurry and get ready for work.  The kicker is, my sister from across the street brought them over because it was not convenient for them to be at her house.  The nice part is we had a very lively and funny conversation in the evening when I got home from work.  I do enjoy some of my family members.

Tuesday - My eldest sister arrives.  I understand she has been through some horrible stresses and emotional issues I hope I never have to experience, but we all have stresses we deal with and sometimes do not need to hear all the details of everything else that is wrong in the world.  Although there was many fun conversation throughout the evening she took ever opportunity she did drift into the troubles and complaints of her situation..

Today - I wake up feeling as if I hadn't slept at all.  my head hurt, my legs hurt, my back hurt, and I had to go to work.  After numbing my headache to tolerable proportions I made a sandwich to eat on the way and took off ... ... without my glasses.  I turn around and called my wife.  She ran them out to me and I was once again on my way.

After I get to work I am trying to focus on some reports that were due ... but there was a delivery truck idling outside and the constant drone of the engine about made my last nerve unglue.  I did slightly less than the necessary minimum work and headed out ... but not home.  My wife and I met at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf where I overdosed on espresso prior to shopping at K-Mart.  We enjoyed a short afternoon together and now I'm home.

Home, but hiding in the bedroom because my sister is still expressing her unhappiness in very loud terms.  I truly empathize with her, and wish I could help, but my nerves are shot ... I need quiet.

If you have read this far, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving ... if you haven't read this far, then it doesn't really matter what I say does it?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Graphic equalizer ...

I've been doing a great deal of pondering lately ... My transition ... The tumor and inevitable surgery ... Finances ... What are my actual goals? ... What is important to me? ... How quickly do I want to move? ... How committed am I to this transition? ... ... So please bear with my ramblings for a moment.

I have always felt like the difference between male and female is not a giant literal, figurative or physical chasm.  It is much more of a spectrum ... many spectrums ... all intertwined, combined, separated, blurred and defined to create person's physical, emotional, spiritual and mental being.

It is much like setting a graphic equalizer to modify or accentuate your music so it appeals to your personal tastes ... only I'm modifying myself.  The trick seems to be to find what needs adjusting rather than just drastically changing everything.  Some times a minor alteration makes a huge difference ... sometimes it takes several attempts to find the proper level of adjustment desired.  It is not about swinging drastically from one extreme to another ... small steps ... little changes ... finding my balance, my preferences ... making me happy with me.

I do not need massive changes in most areas.  Even if I desire a huge change it is not always easy or quick.  The changes I desire most take time ... time, emotional and physical energy, money and patience.

Of course this analogy is flawed ... Some things cannot be changed.  I have very large and fat feet.  Finding shoes that fit properly is difficult ... finding women's shoes that fit properly is nearly impossible.  There are other physical attributes which are not conducive to looking female.  My sisters, the other women in my family have some of the same physical characteristics ... but they have not had the years of testosterone exposure ,,, the poisoning I have endured.  Some of these issues can be camouflaged, others will sill simply be there.

So what is my immediate goal?

I want to survive ... I want to live.  I'm not trying to play victim and make feel people feel sorry for me, but the tumor issue I am currently dealing with made me realize how quickly things can change.  Yes, it is benign and the odds of surgical complications are low, but I just want to live through this.

During my recovery I will take some steps to appear more feminine.  I will have the remainder of my beard and mustache laser treated.  I am considering another ear piercing on for each ear and will choose more feminine colors to return to work.  I will need to talk to my HR department to see how to approach my transition as far as the company goes.

After my recovery I will discuss hormones with my doctor.  I am relatively certain it will not even be a point of discussion until I have been cleared after my surgery ... and probably not considered until I lose a bit of weight and get my blood pressure under control.

Yes ... I know ... Those of you who have read previous posts have read these thoughts before.  I cannot remember what I have said in the past, or when I've said it, but I do know this is a redundant message ... and a message I need to listen to if I ever want to find my happiness ... myself.

So my journey continues ... my transition reaches a new level of commitment.  I am realizing that much of what I desire is gradual adjustments ... small tweaks ... casual changes in appearance, mannerisms and habits.

The biggest changes I desire are not the equivalent of a daredevil jumping a great span in spectacular fashion ... it is more like the casual runner trying to finish a marathon ... slow, painful, one step at a time, knowing the finish line exists but not seeing the progress sometimes for miles.  Strangely it is these changes that cause the biggest fear, yet the ones I wish could be underway the soonest.

There are some things I do not want to change ... my sense of humor, my spirituality, my willingness to accept people.  There are things I will not be able to change, although I may want to.

I still have much to learn, and a long way to go to reach my goal ... to become myself.

As usual, I have added some photos that are not necessarily directly connected to the subject of the blog.  I appreciate all who read my thoughts ... my ramblings.  Thank you.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Just an ordinary day ... NOT!!


This will be a bit of a long story … And the attached pictures have nothing to do with anything.

I started today asleep.  After that everything moved rather quickly.

I started with a pulmonary function test … breathe shallow, breathe deep, breathe slow, breathe fast, exhale, inhale, we’re blocking the tube but still want you to breathe, now take a puff on the inhaler and repeat the tests.  Wow … it doesn’t sound like a lot, but breathing can be tiring.

After that appointment we scurried over to the surgeon’s office for the first consultation.  The chairs in the waiting room were not intended for sitting time of beyond 20 to 30 seconds, but be waited about half an hour or a little more.  Normally the waiting room is not a part of the discussion, but the people that came through while we waited were quite unique … especially the loud family.  I cannot believe that a group of people would make that much noise anywhere, let alone a doctor’s office … but we’re not talking kids.  The patient was an elderly man, his wife was with the group and there were two younger adults (man and wife … brother and sister … not sure) accompanying them.  They occupied 4 chairs very close to each other, but talked as it they were in a hurricane and several hundred feet away.  The younger lady was giving commands to the others.  At one point she asked, “Do you know what the level was?”  The one responding said, “I think it was 2 …”  The lady then yelled, “No!  It was 1.7”  You could still hear them in the waiting room while they were back in the office.
 
Then it was my turn.  My BP was up (I think more because of the loud family than the other stresses), my O2 sat was a little low until I took a few deep breaths and the nurse took my temp, but I do not remember if it was normal.  The doctor came in and hung a film of my ct scan on the light board and started talking …

I was listening, but I could not take my eyes off two of the specific images.  This growth literally covers from front to back of the chest cavity and vertically starts at the diaphragm and goes just beyond the halfway point.

The doctor’s explanation was a bit lengthy, but very clear – My pulmonary function is a bit decreased (you think?!?  With half of my right chest cavity blocked, that might be a problem?).  But he says I have plent of reserve to intubate my left side so they can deflate my right lung for the procedure.  He also stated this is the biggest mass of this type he has ever seen … he once had a man from Alaska who had a large mass like this, but not nearly this big.  I kind of felt like I should get a medal, or a trophy or something.  Anyway …

He cannot tell from the images for sure if it is touching the lung, the heart or the diaphragm.  The mass is benign, but must be removed before it actually does damage by displacing other organs.  If it is touching the lung he will use his “stapler” to remove the affected part of lung, but does not think much (if any) will have to be removed.  If it is touching the heart he will simply cut the pericardium (which is apparently very common in heart surgeries) and there should be no issues.  If it has adhered to the diaphragm he may have to cut and reconstruct the diaphragm which would cause more discomfort and possibly cause some issues with my breathing for a while.

With any luck he will go in between the 5th and 6th ribs and not have to remove a rib to accomplish this.  He should be able to move muscles out of the way rather than cut through them making recovery much easier.  If all goes well I will spend 4 to 5 days in the hospital with no ICU time, but tubes sticking out of me for drainage and pain control.  If things don’t go so well I might need to be in ICU or possibly on a ventilator for a couple days before going to the floor.

The line of the day was when he said, “We should be able to have this on the pathologist’s table for Thanksgiving.”  Ummm … I think I’d rather stick to turkey or ham, but oh well … To each his own.

I am scheduled for an echo stress test tomorrow, and who knows what else (probably ekg, and other basic stuff).  The doctor heard my murmur and thinks there should be a follow up after 30+ years of not having it officially checked.  Things are moving so fast it is hard to keep up with, but I do like and trust the doctors I have seen.

We are going to try and schedule the surgery for the 1st week of December, but it also depends on the surgeon’s availability.  As usual, we will let you know. 

I do plan to use my time away from work to laser the rest of my beard and mustache.  I will have good pain meds so it should be more tolerable.  I would like to return to work looking a lot more feminine than I do right now.  The unfortunate reality to all this is I will likely have to delay my hrt for a while until this is over and all follow up tests are complete ... But at least I know I should have a noce life span to accomplish my ultimate goal.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The "B" word

Biopsy ...

From Greek -  Bios, meaning "Life" and Opsis, meaning "a Sight

Such a simple word.  Beautiful and innocent in its implication, "A sight of life."  Absolutely horrifying in its connotation, "You may have cancer."

Words cannot describe the way I feel right now ... Uncertainty, fear, hopelessness, appreciation, love, optimism, depression, capitulation, determination, loneliness, abandonment, strength and vulnerability all intertwined and strangling every fiber of my being while trying to breathe life into my soul.

I cannot wait to get the tests over with and get the results, while at the same time dreading every step of the way.

I cannot allow myself to fall into the trap of regretting my past decisions, to worry about what might have been if only.  I need to focus on where I am and what I need to do to get to where I belong.  I have decided to share a poem I wrote about four years ago that truly foreshadows my bout with depression and my inevitable struggle to find my female identity.

As a side note, my cats are very intuitive.  At least one cat has constantly been by my side or on my lap since I got home last Tuesday worrying about my situation ... especially my Moose kitty and my Little One.

If you would like to read the poem, here it is:

*** *** ***

My Charade

Sitting, laughing with my friends,
Merriment that never ends.
This fa├žade can’t make amends.

Happiness is my charade.

Visions from my yesteryear,
Acting wild and drinking beer,
Living days so insincere.

Thinking ‘bout the choices made.

Losing life I can’t retrieve.
Mourning loss, but cannot grieve,
Emptiness I can’t conceive.

Pondering the life I’ve laid.

Sinking fast in my despair. 
Burdens far too great to bear,
Reaching out, but no one’s there. 

Loneliness, the price I’ve paid.

What I’ve sown, I now must reap,
Languid, not allowed to sleep, 
Suffering, I cannot weep.

Pain is caused by this charade.

Growing bitter in my age,
Seeking wisdom from the sage,
Wishing I could turn the page.

Weary from this game I’ve played

Consequences turning dire,
Twisting, tangled in the mire, 
Fearing I will face His ire.

I must end this masquerade.

On my search I now embark,
Stumbling, groping in the dark,
Praying, pleading for a spark,

Rescue me from my charade.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I am a coward

There is no nice or easy way to say this ... I always have been a coward.  I find it easier to hide rather than fight.

I am afraid to transition ... I am afraid of what might happen to me if I don't.  I thought my decision to proceed with my transition would be the toughest thing I faced in my life.

I was wrong.

They say everything happens for a reason.  What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

I hope they are right.

When I started having pain in my lower right abdomen with fever and a hint of nausea I pretty much knew what it was ... my appendix.  When I finally decided to see the doctor he agreed, but because I did not exhibit all the symptoms he put me on antibiotics to see if the symptoms would subside.

They didn't.

I was sent for a ct scan and fully expected to be heading to the hospital.  The sad thing is I was feeling a bit sorry for myself ... like nothing ever goes my way ... like "what else can go wrong?"

I was about to find out.

My doctor entered the room.  "I'm pissed.  And you will be, too."  He set my chart on the counter.  "You had a kidney stone in 2007 and the hospital did a cat scan."

"Yep," I said.  "One of many."  I felt a sudden uneasiness grip my body.

"The initial reading of the scan noted the kidney stones with no abnormalities."  My doctor was pacing the room.  "That was the report I got.  Apparently the radiologist read the film the next day and found a mass.  I never received that followup.  The mass is now 8 inches."

I felt cold.  My wife was on the verge of a meltdown and I could not help her.

"The lymph nodes in your lower abdomen are swollen.  This is what's causing the pain."  My doctor was staring straight through me.  "We feel it's very likely you have lymphoma ... ..."

Cancer?

Oh shit!  ... I don't want to die! ... I'm barely starting to live.

The rest of the day was a blur of stress and emotion as I rushed back to to the imaging center for more conclusive tests.

I had all the ingredients for a major league catharsis ... but I didn't ... I couldn't cry.

I wanted to.

The waiting was ... the waiting is the worst part.  In the day or so until I saw my doctor again My thoughts ran amuck.

"The mass does not involve any nodes."  My doctor sat on the stool in the middle of the room.  "We need to get you to somebody to find out what it is and to get it out of you."

"Alright," I said, still trying to act calm.  "What about the lymph nodes?"

"They do not appear to be connected to the mass," my doctor replied.  "It makes the odds of this being lymphoma much lower."

I was quick to note that he did not eliminate the possibility, but it was much better than what I was told just a day or so earlier.

I have a biopsy next week and will get the results very soon after that ... but until then I wait.

I am a coward.  I'm scared of what may be in my future ... I am scared of the fight, but fight I must.  I'm afraid to survive, for survival ,for survival means I will be right back here where I am today ... afraid to transition, but afraid of what might happen if I don't.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The real me

 So at some point I must stop hiding.  I have to step out from behind the curtain and say, "This is me."

This is a very difficult post for me because I have hidden behind a computer generated, virtual makeover for the past several months.  By showing these photos I feel as if I am exposing myself to the world ... exposing my tender underbelly to the claws and the teeth of all those who would wish to emotionally disembowel me.

The story behind the pictures is pretty boring.  I took a day off work ... I was in the house alone for several hours and decided to experiment with my wife's makeup.  The makeup list is as follows:

Foundation - a bit heavy in an attempt to cover the beard
Mascara - Not a lot, but still managed to get my lashes clumped together
Eye liner - Horribly uneven, but I did not poke my eye out
Eye shadow - Neutral colors and not a lot
Blush - Probably not applied well, but I tried
Lip gloss - Ummm ... on the lips - DUH

I was attempting to use as little makeup as possible.  I did not want the drag queen look (not that there is anything wrong with drag queens).  I just wanted to keep it simple ... Like I might actually do if and when I go out as Tiffanie.

 I feel I am in an awkward position.  I do not want to allow my hopes to be built up to the point where I will be devastated and disappointed if things do not go the way I want.  But I also do not want to be so skeptical and critical that I do not even try for fear of failure.

I have messed around with makeup before, but never in an attempt to see if I could look female.  I always just put it on then went about my business at home.  Yesterday was more of a test ... not testing whether I can put on makeup properly ... I can't.  A test of whether I could look female enough with minimal makeup to go out and be me in public.
You see the pics ... I do not look very feminine.

Now, I am happy because I do not look like a guy at first glance, but when you look close it is obvious that I am not a woman.

The four shots I chose were basically random to get my face at different angles.  I am so tempted to photoshop these and make them look better, but that would defeat the purpose.  I am out here for the world to see ... to laugh at me if they like, to mock, to encourage, to pity, to help.  Whatever they are motivated to do, I am here ... and I am not planning on backing down, turning around ... only moving forward.

So I stayed at home yesterday wearing my makeup, my bra and the bra filling (not false breasts, but weighted a bit to hang more like real boobs).  I felt so good ... but at the same time was uptight because I knew at some point the charade would end ... or begin again as I would stop being me.

Mostly I went through my photo archive to find pics for the new page I started on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/photosbytiffanie?ref=hl).  I am merely an amateur photographer who loves to take pictures with my middle of the road camera.  Many of my pics received very nice compliments and so I thought I'd start the page in hopes that others would share photos as well.

I find joy in the simple things.  Seeing things differently.  Creating illusions with nothing more than lights and a lens.

So during the day I didn't think about how I was dressed, the makeup or the fake boobs.  It felt so natural, so right ... I was just me.

As typical for a day at home I had to check to see if the 2 cats we allow to run outside were ready to come in.  I went to the door and called their name ... no response.  I walked outside toward the middle of the yard ... realization hits.  I am outside dressed like this with makeup on.  It was a bit of a panic moment, but I don't think anyone saw me, except maybe the fieldworker behind the house ... I guess I shouldn't care if the neighbors saw me, but I kind-a do.

So life marches on.  My transition moves forward.  I plan to contact the laser clinic Monday to see if my next session can be full beard and mustache and not just under the jaw.  I think if I be rid of the shadow ... the stubble, that I may feel better about myself.  And if I do it now it will be very noticeable by my family at Thanksgiving.  We will see.