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.