Saturday, September 21, 2013

A bunch of nothing ... ...

This entry doesn't have a specific direction as I sit here and start to type.  Nothing really earth-shattering has happened ... I don't have any incredible updates ... I have not had the huge breakthrough that will make the rest of my life serene and uncomplicated; I just lived life.

I won't keep anyone in suspense.  I've only been talking about announcing my transition to the drivers for over a month now ... so here you go.

I was called in to drive a morning route Wednesday morning.  Two runs - first run was 2 wheel chairs into one school - second run was 4 wheel chair into one school.  Plenty of time to do this and get ready for the drivers' meeting.

As I started the first run I was perspiring and felt a little off ... hard to explain, but something wasn't right.  Maybe it was breakfast ... I'm still really not used to eating a real breakfast and maybe my body was just not handling it ... or maybe, very likely it was nerves.  I was finally feeling the nerves about all the drivers knowing about me.

As the second run started I knew it was not just nerves.  I was drenched with sweat and was feeling jittery and a little nauseated.

Actually, I recognized the symptoms and was just thinking, "No, no, no."  The precursors to a kidney stone.

The last several I've had passed relatively easily and with not much pain, but they are still not fun ... and especially while while loading and unloading wheel chairs.  I figured I'd finish the morning and go to the meeting and if the discomfort hadn't let up by then I would go home early and drink a gallon of water and force the little bastard out.

Then it hit.

Oh dear God!  I have not felt pain that bad since ... since ... My thoughts began to scramble, "I can't drive ... damn, I have a kid on the bus."  I slowed down to 10 mph or so and started to pull over.  "Shit.  No."  I glanced at the route sheet.  "That's about a block away.  I can get there."

I got there.  I had a moment to compose myself.  "I could have dispatch call an ambulance, but that leaves this poor kid on the side of the road freaked out while I'm being cared for," I thought.  The child I was waiting for did not come out of the house; the next stop was literally around the corner.  "It's not that far.  I can drive slow and at least get the kids to school."

I finished the route without incident.  Then I had to make a hard decision ... I decided to go home and forgo the meeting.  I asked Maggie to tell the drivers that I was going to say a few words, but there was a memo in their boxes that explained what I needed to say.

I was so disappointed.

When I got home I basically drugged myself and drank as much water as I could at the time and tried to sleep ... not very successfully, but I tried.  Eventually I dozed off for an hour or a bit more.  I woke up just before Pam got home from her sewing class.  She told me that Maggie called her to make sure I was alright ... Maggie is truly wonderful.

I called her to thank her.  She told me she announced my transition, and the drivers were very receptive.

Today I evicted my friend ... or he got tired of his surroundings.  And yes, it had to be a male ... a real pain that serves no actual purpose.  I'm glad he's gone.

As this is also my training blog I do feel obligated to follow up on a couple issues I brought up in earlier posts ... like exercise.

I have not done anything that I could categorize as exercise or training.  I have, however, done a lot of what I call intentional walking ... times where I would normally just recline in my chair at work or at home to take a mental break, I now go for a 5 or 10 minute walk.

It's a start ... a very slow start, but a start.

I feel my actual cardio is better than I might suspect, but I have not truly tested it yet.  At my weight I do not want to push too hard, too soon ... but yet there's that voice in my head saying, "C'mon Tiffie ... just turn the corner ... head toward town."  I'm so tempted ... so tempted.

I officially started my "Whole 30" paleo eating plan last Sunday.  It is very easy to follow ... everything I would normally eat while trying to lose weight or while training is on the good foods list, other than a few dairy products and a couple of my snack options I would chomp on.

Actually, I enjoy keeping my food, my meals simple and that's a lot of what this plan is about.  And I love cooking and creating rather than opening a box and sticking it in a microwave.  It's a win - win situation.  It is as much a test for myself to see if I can go a month without self sabotaging as it is about following a specific plan, or losing a certain amount of weight.

I really want to open up my sessions with Catharine to start working on some of the underlying issues I haven't truly faced yet.  The problem is I don't really know what they are ... I know they wind up in stress eating, self destructing and not completing goals and other unfavorable outcomes.

Some people do not truly understand this level of mental block.  Their answer is simply to not eat as much, or to work a little harder to achieve my goals ... and if their friend suffers an asthma attack I guess they would say, "just breathe better."

Do I have an eating disorder?  ...  Maybe ... likely ... who cares?  Why do I turn to eating?  I don't know.  Why do I allow myself to implode short of my goals?  I don't know ... Catharine has a thought that is worth pursuing, but I still need to deal with it.

I am an introvert ... my job has me dealing with, standing in front of, talking to people on a daily basis.  My goals are mainly big group events ... a marathon, a triathlon.

I have anxiety issues in large crowds ... maybe there is a correlation.

So ... have I covered everything?

Sure ... unless you want to know how the drivers reacted when I returned to work on Thursday.

Simply amazing.  Every driver I have talked to has either been openly supportive, or has acted as if nothing has changed at all.  I work with such incredible people.

I know there are many who do not know what to say to me, but I hope as they see me just being me their discomfort will fade.  I am sure there are some that do not approve of me, but if they are going to work at this bus yard they will still need to deal with me.

I was incredibly happy that some were already calling me Tiffanie on Thursday.  I understand this will take a while for everyone to get used to ... even me.  I could not have asked for a better beginning to this phase of my transition.

Well, yes I could ... It would have been nice to not have a kidney stone during this time.

my kidney stone
beside a penny

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Family matters

Blood relatives and relatives by marriage are a much like a bag of trail mix.  You have your pieces fruit - usually sweet, sometimes colorful, sometimes a bit bitter but still provide some level nutrition.  You have the pretzels or the cereal - a bit starchy, sometimes salty but they add a needed contrast of texture and flavor and supply their own nutrients.  And of course you have to have the nuts.

I have never been very close to my family other than my wife and my son.  This was likely a subconscious decision but for obviously conscious reasons.

I do not want to go into a long diatribe about all my siblings, my in-laws, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, grandparents and whatever other distant relatives I'm sure I have but have likely never met.

I do, however, want to focus on two very special people in my life.

When I was younger ... which I do not understand why people insist on explaining that as part of a story ... I mean like, DUH!  Of course I was younger.  I am not writing a play by play of my life ... and even if I was, by the time it is posted I would be older than when I wrote it.

Anyway ... The family received a card from my sister Sherry announcing that she had married Johnnie.  As good as my memory has been in remembering what year events have happened, I cannot recall when we first met Johnnie ... he seemed to be a part of my entire life.

And it's not that I don't think Sherry is special ... although I still have a tongue in cheek grudge against her for kicking the pecan pie from Mrs, Dyer one year ... but that is a different story.

Johnnie was simply special.  He treated everyone with incredible respect, yet he took no crap from anyone ... except Sherry.  He could tell a story about anything and keep you captivated and laughing the entire time but still had the ability to listen.  He was generous with everything ... and as I would find out later, often times beyond his means.  And he so enjoyed cooking ... and was very, very good at it.

When I met him I know I was relatively young because he wanted to play chess.  He beats all his friends up in the Bay Area so he was going to take it easy on me.  ten minutes later we were starting a new game and he decided to take me seriously.  Six games later he decided it was time to start dinner and rethink his strategies.

His strategy was to teach me a new game ... Stratego.

I loved that man.

The three saddest moments in my life regarding him were (and not in order).

Random silly pic
- When Sherry and Johnnie stopped visiting due to an argument over political views.  It doesn't matter who was involved in the argument ... the result hurt everyone.  I would not admit it at the time, but I was nearly in tears when the family disintegrated in anger.

- When Johnnie had a stroke.  I never saw him after he stopped visiting, and I am a bit thankful because my memories are all of healthy and happy Johnnie, but knowing that he deteriorated and suffered was very painful.

- When Johnnie died.  I cried.  Every year he visited and cooked and made himself the target in the squirt gun fight and ... and ... ... I always said thank you.  I was always was sincerely appreciative for all he did.

I loved my visit to the Bay Are when he took me on a tour of Berkeley while telling me, "Just ignore the bullet holes in the truck."

Ummm ... The truck I'm riding in.

I wonder if he ever knew how much he really meant to me.

I would love to see the look on his face if I told him about my transition.  I have no doubt that he would be supportive accept me, but oh would the comments fly.  There would a lot of joking around and laughter, but he would be there for me ... just like always.

When I met Pam, we married before most of the family even knew we were dating.  Johnnie treated her so wonderfully.  We went fishing on a local lake ... a relaxation thing, not a "let's catch dinner" thing ... but we did catch some fish.  In fact I reeled in one of the first fish of the day.

"Great job.  Bring it into the boat," Johnnie barked.  "Bring it into the boat."

I swung the pole with the fish wiggling away toward the back of the boat ... where the fish smacked Pam in the face.

She screamed.

Butch and his father.  On the hearth a
picture of our first baby Rusty
Johnnie started laughing so hard he almost fell out of the boat.  Luckily Sherry was there to rescue my wife ... and me.  Johnnie told that story every year ... and every year it was just as funny.

Shortly after I met Pam I met her oldest brother Butch.

Butch immediately treated me like a member of the family ... of course that means he played practical jokes, made prank calls told dirty jokes and was an all around lovable lunatic.

Butch could talk the ears off a corn field ... he could sell sand to a man stranded in the desert ... but you could not find a person with a bigger heart if you were lucky enough to meet him.  Too many times to count he made time to help me and Pam, whether it was getting tires for our cars or moving a trailer down to Los Angeles.  He never asked for anything in return.

Butch had three daughters - Lisa, Julie and Janel.  I regret that I was not a bigger part of their life as they were growing up ... but as I said earlier, I have never been very close to my family.

Julie and Janel a tad bit younger
It was heartbreaking to watch Butch deteriorate physically.  He had an aneurysm in his brain that required surgery to save his life ... and likely it did, but he suffered a stroke as a result.

I did visit him ... reluctantly.  He didn't remember me.  I will never forget him, but I try to focus on the healthy Butch.

I wish he were still alive I know exactly how the conversation would go with him.  I would be sitting next to Pam on the couch and he'd be in a chair holding a cigarette.  I'd nervously work my way toward the subject and say, "I'm transitioning to female."

"No shit?"  Butch would laugh a bit and likely make an off color comment.  "Don't be wearing none of them short skirts around me.  I don't need to see that shit."  He would keep us laughing until the evening ended.

Recently I have contacted Julie and Janel to inform them of my transition.

Julie's initial reaction was I was setting up a practical joke ... I am flattered that she thinks I am that devious ... okay, maybe I am that devious.  Once she realized I was being sincere she was entirely supportive.

Janel also did not hesitate to accept me.  I am blessed to have such loving nieces.

Lisa has distanced herself from many family members over the past few years ... she has her own issues she is dealing with.  I do pray someday she will work things out.

Although I do feel the word "family" is overrated, I am happy that the family members that know of my transition accept the real me.  To be truthful, even if every other family member wants nothing to do with me, I have such a full an wonderful life with loving and supportive people.

Thank you to all my spectacular friends and family who read this blog.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Whole 1 ...

I will start by saying that I have had a pretty good week ... not perfect ... not even great, but pretty good.

I get the feeling that some people thought I was a bit hard on myself in my last post.  Perhaps I was a bit terse, but everything was factual ... I self destruct, sabotage my own efforts and I don't know why.  This truth became evident at work recently.  Without going into details I will simply say I made a mental error ... not once, but twice.  This error is not anything that would get the company in trouble with the law, nor is it anything that anyone outside the yard will likely ever discover ... but I know about it.

Worse than that, Maggie found out before I could tell her.

I felt like I betrayed her ...

I won't go into the details of the tears and guilt.  I will say I bought a card to apologize and wrote a note reiterating my concerns that I implode in some areas after improving in others.

She agrees.  She has noticed this tendency in me since she came to our facility in 2005.

I took a copy of my last three blog posts to Catharine knowing that I would not have the time to discuss all the events since our last visit ... and that I would likely sidestep anything truly involving underlying issues.

She will read them ... she will ask ... but I still have to talk ... and I don't know what the issues are ... or maybe I don't want to know.

I've very recently started the process of filling a void I've felt for the past year ... the void left when I jumped ship from my former Facebook life and started a new one.  I have ... or had many friends that I very much would like to keep in contact with.  Friends from a Christian writer's site, from the triathlete site I mention often, and many I have just grown close to over the years.

But they don't know about me ... what if they don't want anything to do with me?  What if ... what if ... what if ...

I am truly my own worst enemy.

The absolute worst thing that could happen is they would read the message and not want to be friends ... or possibly tell me they no longer want to be friends.

I can live with this.

I can live with this for several reasons, but the the two that are highest on my list are:

1 - I have made many new friends on this journey,  Although the loss of old friends would be painful, I still have friends.

2 - I do not want "sympathy friends"  I do not want people who feel they have to remain friends even though they disapprove of my choices.

I got my answer ... ...

Every single person I have told has wanted to remain my friend.  Better than that, several have already read parts of my blog and shared links for diets, pod casts, exercise and other advice ... I still have not had a chance to check them all out.

I wonder how I can be so truly blessed ... what have I done to deserve this wealth of kindness and support.

I am not certain I will ever understand, and I most certainly can never repay the generosity others have shown me.

About the title of the post ...

As I have tried many eating plans with varying degrees of success.  I have tried everything from Weight Watchers to low carb to Nutrisystem and my personal favorite, the salami and nachos diet.

I have weighed as little as 190 pounds as an adult when I worked for Oxnard Ambulance.  At that weight I felt weak and sluggish, but I looked skinny ... well, like a skinny fire plug.  I was at my most athletic at 220 pounds playing volleyball and bouncing on a trampoline for hours on end.

One eating plan I have wanted to try is the paleo diet.  I heard about it years ago, I believe on but cannot promise that, and since that time have heard of many athletes from MMA fighters to endurance athletes who have tried it with amazing results.

But I cannot commit to anything.  How could I possibly do this?  I mean, no dairy ... no grains ... no legumes ... no cheese ... ... Yes, I know that's dairy ... but it's cheese!!

But then again I cut out most refined food, most dairy and all cheese when I have success losing weight ... why am I hesitating?

Ironically, one of the links my friends sent was for the "The Whole 30 Program."

30 days?

I can do 30 days without self destructing ... can't I?

I had a couple practice paleo meals just to get the feel for it.  The next logical step was to have a paleo day ... actually, the next logical step would be to just start the 30 days, but I don't have enough of the right food on hand to go more than a couple days.  So I did a paleo day ... which turned into a paleo day and a half.

"The Whole 1" ... I did it.  It is a tiny accomplishment, but it is something.

What about 30 days?  I think I can do this.  I like the food, I just have to get used to having a real breakfast rather than a drink ... or nothing.

I have no delusions.  I will never have the ideal feminine body ... estrogen will only create a slightly curvy fire plug.  But my goal is not to be the ideal socially acceptable physically fit woman.  My goal is better health and better fitness.

If I cannot gain a better level of fitness then I will never achieve my goals.

If I cannot stick to this plan for 30 days then I am far more self destructive then I ever realized and desperately need help.

As with my last post I am only sharing one picture ... one picture from my past.  Nine years ago to be exact.  I weighed 255 pounds and could ride that bicycle 20 miles ... that was a mental barrier ... I could never go beyond 20 miles.  About a month after this picture was taken I rode this bicycle about 17 miles away from my apartment ... if I wanted to get home I would have to ride farther than 20 miles or walk my bicycle home.  Within another month I was riding 40+ miles every weekend.  Within 8 months I bought a new road bike.

Those who remember me from may remember this pic.  I slightly blurred the face ... and I probably lied about my weight back when I first posted it.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The truth hurts ...

This is typical.

I just posted a rather long entry figuring I would not have much to say for a week or two, but ...

I have mentioned some of this, or possibly most of this ... but not in detail, and not completely truthfully.  To get to where we are I must repeat a bit of history.

*** 1982  ***

I was watching some strange event from Hawaii ... a triathlon.  I don't recall who exactly was watching it with me, but I do remember the negative, derogatory comments about people trying to exceed limits, low self esteem, dangerous health issues, and yada yada ... but I was enthralled.  The longer I watched the more I became consumed with the idea of competing in this bizarre event.

ABC focused on the leaders.

For part of the race the women's leader was Julie Moss.  She was a cute college student who was outpacing the athletes who had trained for the event ... the proverbial underdog.

I was excited for her ... I was rooting for her.  Then she began to slow down ... she stumbled and fell, but she did not give up ... she crawled toward the finish line.  While she was crawling she was passed and did not win the women's division.

I wanted to cry.

I wanted to cry, but I couldn't because I was supposed to be a boy ... a young man.

By the end of the day I added an item to my list of secrets ... I was going to train for and finish an ironman triathlon.

Julie Moss finish


The late 80s were a difficult and stressful time for me and Pam.  We had suffered the loss of our 3 month old baby Rusty in 1989.  We then reveled in the birth of our son Timmy in 1990.  We spent the better part of a year on edge and nervous fearing that our precious angel would be ripped from our arms again.

I imploded ... I just didn't realize it.

*** 1999 ***

While Timmy was playing in his room, I stumbled across the ironman on television.  I hadn't watched the ironman since ... since ...

I could not remember the last time I watched it ... and I wasn't going to watch it today either, but I could not manage to press the button on the remote.

I mean seriously ... the first minute of the show was devoted to a guy with cerebral palsy.  He's not even an athlete ... but I couldn't turn it off.  Like in 1982, the more I watched the more enthralled I became.

I soon realized that the story of the father running with his disabled son was less a story of athleticism and more a story of unconditional love and acceptance ... But what an athlete Dick Hoyt is.  It is demanding enough to complete an ironman triathlon ... he has completed many while towing or pushing his son.

Tears began streaming down my face ... but not for team Hoyt.

I realized that I had abandoned a life goal ... to finish an ironman.  And it was becoming clear to me that I had been self destructive over the past decade.

Team Hoyt 1999

Since that time I have belonged to several online groups and forums with the goal of completing an ironman.  I made many friends along the way ... I have drifted apart from most of them, but feel very fortunate for the few who remain in my life.

Over the years they have been very encouraging and supportive in my endeavors.

When I trained for a simple 10K I received a plethora of advice ... I had all the time and tools to prepare ... I said all the right things ... and I fell well short of my goal.

This sequence of events was repeated when I rode my first (and only, to this point) century, as well as my first and second marathon attempts.

There were legitimate reasons that contributed to my shortcomings in each case, but all but one was truly a form of self destructing ... and even in that one I was beginning the process.

The century - I failed to do the proper training for the final month before the ride and gained 15 pounds.  If I had not self destructed, the contributing factor of an unexpectedly long hill at the 30 mile mark would not have had the profound impact it had on my overall time.

The 10K - I just waited too long and never put in the proper effort.  Yes, my exercise induced asthma kicked in at the start of the run, but had I trained properly I would have been aware of this issue and had an inhaler on hand.

Marathon 1 - The most legit reason of the group.  I tweaked my left Achilles tendon about a month before the event.  I couldn't even walk without an ankle support for nine months ... but I was starting to break my training plan, skipping runs, eating junk food.  The downward spiral had begun.

Marathon 2 - I felt pain in my knee diagnosed as chondromalacia, eventually in both knees.  It turns out that I did have a torn meniscus  in my left knee, but I did not discover this for several weeks after I had dropped to the half marathon distance.

The truth is I felt trapped ... this was a "family event" with my brother and some nephews and nieces.  I did not want to hold them back, but did not want to back out.  The pain and injuries were real, but there was no reason I couldn't have done swimming, water running, stationary bike or other low impact training while I was waiting.

I began to implode again in July.  My endocrinologist (as well as every other doctor I've seen) asked me to lose some weight and exercise.  Being on estrogen should have been the greatest motivator in the world ... and for a month it was.  Then came the implosion ... the almost surgical dismantling of what few accomplishments I had made.

It seems like my entire life I have worried whether people would accept me; this feeling has only intensified since I started my transition.  I have been so consumed fearing that people won't accept me that I never realized that I have trouble accepting myself.

It's almost as if I have disliked myself to the point that I apparently cannot allow myself the satisfaction of success.  At times I feel that people cannot possibly appreciate me, that any compliments toward me cannot possibly be sincere, or that I don't deserve compliments in the first place.

I'm not sure how to change any of this.

I have allowed myself to balloon to a hideous 350 pounds.  I was 250 when I rode the century and 265 when I finished the half marathon.  I carry 220 easily ... or at least I used to.  But even then I'm considered overweight.

Surprisingly I still have reasonable cardio ... a 30 minute fast paced walk raises my pulse rate but does not leave me gasping for air, and my pulse returns to normal in just a few minutes when I am done cooling down.

I must learn to truly accept myself before I can expect others to openly accept me.

I must learn to fully accept myself with all my weaknesses and strengths if I ever want to like, or even respect myself.

These are not easy issues to change.  I have been self deprecating my entire life, using humor to dismiss my successes and hide the pain of my failures.  I must change if I ever truly want to successfully complete my goals.

If you have noticed the lack of pictures in this diatribe, it is intentional.  I am only attaching one, and it is very embarrassing ... This is me at the heaviest I've ever been just prior to starting HRT.  Forgive the quality.  I am not wearing makeup, I'm a tad bit sweaty, but I did not alter it in any way.

This is my reference point ... my beginning.  This is what I will use to judge my progress as I move forward.