Before the clouds break

This will be my last journal/update before I am no longer considered Pre-Op FtM.
Hold on though, it’s going to be a long one.

I was seen and given my post-op instructions last Friday. Spent the weekend buying the necessary things and getting my house ready and prepping people in my life about what to expect.
I’ve dotted my I’s and crossed my T’s as they say.
A few more things to do today, take my special shower tonight and hopefully get some sleep before I’m awake at 6:45am and getting ready to leave. I’ve been instructed to be at the hospital at 8am. I’ll probably be classy and show up at 7:45.

I wanted to touch base real quick on what post op items I grabbed, lists I looked at and some things that my Dr and nurses have told me. That way if anyone is curious about their journey they can kind of backboard from me.

So with anything these days, I went straight to google and looked for other’s lists they had put together of items they might need post op.
Please consult your Dr before using(or buying)!
Wanted to toss that little disclaimer out there first before I started linking things.
These are the ones I found the most useful: http://www.topsurgery.net/resources/shopping-packing-checklist.htm

https://ftmmagazine.com/top-surgery/

Buzzfeed article from a transguy

These are pretty solid lists to go from. Mind you though, you don’t need to go out and buy every single thing on these lists. I looked at quite a lot and only grabbed what was good for my situation and what I needed.
Going into that, this is what I ended up needing:

*About 8 new button up shirts. Since I’m going back to work only after 2 weeks or so, I needed button ups to work in. Also make sure as the lists state, buy 1-2 sizes larger. Your arms aren’t going to want to move too far from your body in the first couple weeks. You’ll need them to be similar to a coat.
*2 pairs of athletic pants. (Well, 1 pants and 1 shorts) These are easy to pull up, a little large on you and you want comfort over appearance.
*Armchair pillow. I got this because I’m going to be needing to sleep/lay at about a 45 degree angle for about a week or more. This should hopefully help.
*U shaped travel pillow. Same thing. The armchair pillow I got only comes up to the middle of my back. So to help support my head, I got one of these.
*Grabbing tool. This I feel is going to help me more than I think it might. I got mine at Target but a lot of hardware stores carry them too. When you have T-Rex arms, having an extension to that is a good thing.
*Bendy straws, stool softener and cough drops. Recommended by the lists and my RN. Heavy painkillers stop you up a lot. That stool softener is going to be a blessing when you’re not straining to go. Also, bending forward to drink.. doesn’t sound as pleasant when your chest is swollen and bruised. Lastly, the tube they put down your throat is going to piss off your throat like no other. Going home sucking on something to soothe that irritation will help loads. I chose Natural Honey cough drops with no menthol.

The next little bit I’m going to ramble about is bathing. This really needs to be tailored to you, your situation and comfort. Being clean is important, how you want to get that way is too.
*Bathing wipes/Dry Shampoo/plastic poncho/Long handled loofah. From what I’m seeing, you’ve got about 2 major options that you can tailor to your needs.
1 being the wipes. These you don’t need water, no showers, no funky weird trying to dodge water aerobics etc. You and or another person can help wipe you down, you’ll feel clean enough to carry on and avoid the mess of water all together.
2 being the shower/poncho style. If you really want to get in the shower or bath, you’re going to need someone to put that poncho on you so you don’t get everything wet. Then you can use the long handle loofah to get at least your lower half clean.
At the early weeks, you won’t be able to reach your head. You’re going to need someone to wash your hair in a sink or you can use the dry shampoo.
I personally chose the wipes. I’ve got the necessary persons to help me wipe away the funk and I chose to avoid water as much as I can. Thankfully febreeze is a thing lol.

Things you’ll need to talk to your Dr about, that will probably be important to get after the 1st week post-op.

*Scar gel/strips. Your Dr will go over what they recommend and here you can ask what brands/type etc. Mine suggested silicon or steri strips. Both can work well.
*Gauze pads/medical supplies for redressings. Your Dr might hand you some of these but most likely they’ll tell you what to grab.

Last footnote about an item I saw on one of the lists: Polysporin. I asked about this for nipple healing and was told that this, especially used longer term(over a week) can cause rashes, yeast growth and be really unpleasant all around. Follow your Dr’s orders for any and all post-op care!

Ok, that just about covers it all. I grabbed a few other things but none that I feel would weigh in on this list as important.
Just imagine you bound up in a compression binder, in varying degrees of pain/soreness, without being able to extend your arms very far from your body. Now walk around your house with T-Rex arms XD You’ll quickly get the idea of what needs to change, be arranged, brought to hand level and so on.

I do want to point out, that while I thought I would only be wearing that compression binder for the 1st week post-op, I have been since told that it’s more like 3-6 weeks of wearing it. So while I’ll be having a binder burning party in my backyard at some point, it’s not going to be a week post-op.
Which btw, is OK! I would rather preserve my results, make sure they heal up correctly, not stretch to oblivion and look great so if I have to wear another type of binder for a little while longer to achieve a better outcome, so be it.

With all of that out of the way. I am super excited and nervous. I’m a bound up ball of crazy feelings right now. I know what’s to come (my husband has had a few surgeries since I’ve been with him) and I know how it should go. I’ve done everything I can these last handful of months to ensure that everything should go ok.
I’m not so much worried about being denied anymore so much that now I’m just scared something else will go wrong. But. I know that’s just my anxiety talking. I’ll be ok.

I’m so excited seeing this finally come to fruition. 4 years waiting. The fits of anger and jealousy. The self loathing and depression. Watching my kids play at the park and I can’t even swing on the monkey bars without the damn binder riding up to become a push up bra. Not being able to lift my arms to grab something off the top shelves without it doing that either.
No more. Not after tomorrow. I’ll finally be one piece closer. As much as I see Target changing lately, I’m glad they chose to be on the better side of change and I get this opportunity to do this.

With that, I’m going to go relax, get a few more things cleaned and ready for this evening/tomorrow and I will catch up with you all as soon as I can!

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At the Peak

It’s been a handful of days almost since my last journal and since I’m here for the ride, I thought I’d take you all along as well.

After the last journal, I spoke with a few people and hashed out a few things. Made myself a list. And I’m starting to finally feel like my hands are back on the wheel. At least one hand.
I’ve still got that sinking feeling but now it’s mainly because the final approval comes tomorrow from my surgeon and she’s the most important voice of all. I’ve been struggling for 2 months to get this acne I have on my chest under control. Daily creams, washes etc. I’m even on oral antibiotics with mild results. I’m trying. And I think I’m just going to tell her, I’ll risk it. She may not enjoy that but I’ve already taken the time off work. I can’t sacrifice more. Let’s just hope I’ve done enough.

As far as financial goes, I’m mostly ok. The only money I have to pay upfront is for my compression binder. I’m a bit shaky on additional costs of post op items at this point, that and missing a whole paycheck period. But as things often go, financially there was no way for us to completely prepare due to a lot of factors, mainly 2 out of 3 persons in the house not getting enough hours. But I can’t keep pushing this back anymore either. I mentally can’t keep going farther. I’m so hindered by these damn binders it breaks me not being able to do as much as I used to. I have to take this opportunity while it’s there and just scrape up what’s left and keep pushing forward.

From what I’ve gathered from information online, my post-op list looks ok. I’ll be preparing my house this weekend for when I am left alone at home. Most everyone knows that I’ll be T-Rex arms for 2 weeks or more and that I will need help.
I know that I could be an emotional wreck for quite a while after surgery. Which would be a nice turn around seeing as I tend to be an emotional brick wall. I’m sure the people around me won’t like it though, but I’ll try my best not to be a pain in the arse.

I’m oddly not too worried about results. From the work I’ve seen done by her, she’s an artist with a knife. Her work is wonderful and I can see the attention to detail from her. I just hope my stubborn body is an ok canvas for her.
And as far as pain goes, bring it. I’m not bragging but I seem to have a high threshold for pain so I’m not terribly worried. And no, I’m not a masochist. Just in case you were wondering lol.

Oh! If anyone is curious though about which procedure I’m having, it’ll be the Double Incision / Bilateral Mastectomy with floating nipple grafts. I’m naturally a C. So way too big for a peri procedure. I’m curious how the drains are going to be. I hear they can be a pain in the ass because they tug the skin. If anything, that part will probably bother me the most.

So I notice I’m starting to ramble.. I guess MOST of my entries are rambling but this one has started to just bounce around a lot more than I’d like. I’ll wrap it up here for now.

Timeline:
Last Pre-op app tomorrow 4/13@9:30
Surgery date: 4/17 Time: 8am
Last day of work before leave: 4/12

I’ll be updating this again sometime this weekend I’m sure, probably again Monday and then when I am able and willing, I’ll do a post-op update as well with pictures as time passes because why not look at my swollen bruised chest?

Opening the bottle

I’m writing my thoughts down here today to try and mediate the bottled up emotional storm I’ve been holding onto since January.

I have less than 2 weeks before my scheduled surgery date and I’m sweating bullets. I feel like I am just sitting in for the ride at this point and unable to control the wheel that’s in front of me. Which in turn has caused my anxiety and stress levels to peak well above what they normally are.

After I quit cold turkey from nicotine and smoking, I started rapidly gaining weight. In 4 months I’ve gained almost 20lbs. I’ve never been one to stress eat but the feeling like my chest is going to explode with emotion and I’m going to burst into tears any moment has become so powerful that nothing but food and or drink can calm it.

The feeling of not having some sort of control in which the way things are going to come out at the end, is the most damning feeling. I often feel like I’m bracing for a punch in the face and every day is another flinch thinking that it’s coming. That I’m going to either be fired or denied surgery again.
In reality I know that as long as I get a few things left done, everything should be ok. But I also know that as soon as I relinquish that worry, fear and paranoia, I’m going to be disappointed and break if something does go wrong.

I’m so tired right now. I know it’s depression setting in. The PTSD from being denied so many times in my life. I want this so badly, I NEED this so badly to work out. To be waking up after surgery, going home, recovering and moving on, in a better state of mind. I need this. But good almighty, does it feel like life is telling me otherwise.

I can’t wait for this struggle to be done with.

Drowning in the swamp

So I’ve been contemplating what to post here for about the last week as the dread keeps settling in as news articles clamor on top of one another on my feed.
It’s hard to put into words your anger and distress sometimes. I’ll try and not go on a full tirade as I’m sure a lot of you might feel the same way but I digress. This isn’t going to be easy for me.

As each day passes since the 1st of this year, I feel like I’m already drowning in this country. It’s not even the 20th yet and already I’m sick with anxiety, worry and thoughts of how to escape. Half baked plans of desperation, trying to find holes in the system so we can move before we’re completely stripped of our rights we’ve worked so hard to get.

The first strike: Health insurance in the state I’m in. We obviously had to sign up with the ACA again as none of our employers offer insurance. The issue with that is, our selection was cut in half and rates doubled. I couldn’t continue through United healthcare and had to find one that we could afford that had an obtainable deductible for us. We got stuck with Cigna for literally over double what we paid last year. Cigna doesn’t offer coverage for trans individuals. Plain and simple.
The exert from their 2017 exclusions: “Procedures, surgery or treatments to change characteristics of the body to those of the opposite sex including medical or psychological counseling and hormonal therapy in preparation for, or subsequent to, any such surgery. This also includes any medical, surgical or psychiatric treatment or study related to sex change.

I’m already fucked as far as my transition goes it seems. Feeling hopeless right off the bat this year, this wasn’t going to help my year off with a good note.
But then let’s add the syrup to the shit ice cream sundae and watch a Texas Federal judge block transperson’s rights the day before they’d fully take effect for the ACA!
Link: The BUZZ story

So that’s now 2 hits this first week. Oh and than you have Paul Ryan and the screwed assholes in congress who vow to repeal the whole damn ACA. Bam, 3 strikes we’re out.

What do you even do with this? I mean.. what can we do?

I sat and pondered this pretty much the last couple days. It’s only the 9th. 9 fucking days and I’ve watched my rights stripped and my health coverage go under fire.

Well, fuck it. I’m fighting. I’m not going down without a battle.
I happen to scroll past the Trans rights group on FB posting an article and I spoke up and commented. I’ve since then been in touch with a lady from PROMO and in the talks of trying to sort out the blatant discrimination in my healthcare.
I’ll be contacting Lambda Legal as well to see where and how far I can go.
Granted, I don’t have the funds at all to hire a lawyer. I’m living on a strict budget. So I suppose we’ll see. But if they find my case noteworthy enough to make waves, I’m gunning all the way. Court dates and all. I’m tired of sitting at home, watching as everything is set on fire around me, expecting others to make my and other’s ways in the world.

How can our legislation deny the AMA(American Medical Association), APA(American Psychological Association) and countless other accredited organizations? I know.. it’s a rhetorical question. These same people deny 98% of scientists on climate change. *Que eye roll x 1000*

As you can tell, I’ve hit my fuck this shit, mark and I’m fed up. Let’s cross fingers and hope I have some good news for once come soon.

When it comes crashing down.

I just looked back at my last post and feel like everything crashed down around me again. You know that excitement of the last post? It’s gone and I highly doubt it’s going to come back for many years now.

I didn’t update sooner, especially on my surgery part because a series of events took place on Oct 19th that sent me into a spiraling depression and I’m still stuck there. It’s like a nightmare I can’t wake from and with no end in sight.

So… I’ll try and keep this fairly short. I was denied my surgery. My surgeon sent in my paperwork and they denied it even though previously they told me otherwise.
I was told I’d have to appeal it and I was midway into that when I noticed an email from the marketplace saying my tax coverage is being lowered because my kids are on medicaid. Uh.. Wha??? So I spend two weeks trying to get a hold of the medicaid office to figure out what happened and to fix it.
By the time I got replies and a letter etc.. the damage had been done. My insurance company raised my rates, kicking my kids off the coverage and my deductible skyrocketed by $2,000. I called the market place and they had to redo an entire application for us and I was devastated. I told them just to cancel my insurance. There was no point in keeping it. It was back to useless for us again.

I cried so hard that day. I’ve been on the edge of suicidal and lingering on quitting everything. So.. surgery is now out the window for who knows how long.
And then.. the election happens.

I have spent the better part of it now arguing with people who think it’s ok to invalidate my fear.
I can’t write anymore on this. I’m terrified beyond belief right now, sad and depressed. I have no energy left in me to keep speaking to privileged deaf people.

I thought I’d update everyone over here though. No surgery. No insurance right now. Barely a will to live.

 

Started a new job, already outed.

Why can’t people just keep shit to themselves? Information that they had no right to even express to anyone else? Not even there for over a week and already half or more of the crew I work with knows I’m trans now all because the area manager/hiring manager decided to open his big mouth for no reason what so ever but to create that “shock” value.

And guess what’s happening now that they know? My shift leads are misgendering me. I get funny looks from people and I’m ignored. I’ve corrected them and am simply ignored. Couldn’t even make it a week without being outed. And of course my husband and family doesn’t understand. The anxiety I get from being disrespected and treated differently is through the roof. I just want to go to work, work and go home. No one needed to know I was trans in order for work to get done. But here I am.

Can you tell I’m angry? To those who read my entry about working last year at Coleman, you can already probably see the path this is going to head down to eventually. So guess what I’m doing this weekend? Applying for yet another job.

It’s already bad enough I have to pick up work on top of everything else going on in my life, just so I can pay to get my teeth fixed and save for top surgery, but to be treated like a walking freak along with it? Nope, not going to happen.

I noticed the Target in my city is hiring. Maybe I’ll get lucky. And this time if I get hired, I’m making it crystal clear, I don’t want to be outed. I want to be seen as the male I am. I want others to see the hard work I do and that’s it.

On a mild unrelated note, the psychologist I’ve seen now 3 times is either forgetting what mental disorders are, or hasn’t schooled herself in anything new in the last 5 years. I’ve been diagnoised with bipolar(in 2008) adhd(in early 2000’s) and severe anxiety disorder(this year). She seems to think, even though I have all the signs and symptoms of bipolar (at least a milder case of it) that instead it’s all just my adhd and I may not be bipolar! I’m face desking right now just fyi. Yes, anxiety/adhd/bipolar all have bounce off symptoms that can overlap into one another. It sucks that I suffer from a lot of the symptoms that all 3 disorders cause. So I get it, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s causing what. But to just dismiss my 8 years of bipolar to shove it off onto my other disorder? That seems a bit wonky and ill informed.
Speaking she wants to put me on Adderall which isn’t great for bipolar or anxiety. Don’t get me wrong. The anxiety, a good chunk of it, is caused by the adhd. It’s a miracle I can get through these posts without shouting, “Squirrel!” 5 times and back pedaling the backspace key 50 million times. I know I suffer from the conditions. I’m ok to get medical help seeing as the “natural green” medicine isn’t available nor advised seeing as it comes with the 10 year jail sentence. It was just pretty frustrating hearing that from someone I had placed my trust in. And the thought of ditching her for someone else so soon, makes my stomach turn. It feels rude to me. I don’t want to be wishywashy.

So that was my day/week. I just needed to get that out of my head properly.
With so much of the bathroom rights things circle jerking my FB feed daily, a lot of people forget there are other hurdles transgenders have to face, such as being respected at work.

Some days are harder than others.

I try to keep this blog as transgender based as possible. Be it my struggles in an un-accepting world or directly coinciding with my transition medically, but some days it’s hard to not look past all of that and feel the need to share other aspects of my life.
I’m not just transgender. That sole thing doesn’t define me. I’m a parent, a husband, an artist. Someone who lives with struggles and dreams. I also live with mental disorders. Disorders that sometimes cripple my daily functions. Disorders I’m trying to treat so I can continue living a more improved life for not only myself but for my children and spouse.

I was hesitant on sharing this bit of information with the general public mainly because of the stigma that surrounds it. The whispers and assumptions people draw up to try and arm chair prescribe me a bit of their own advice. But honestly, I’ve moved past that phase of caring and paranoia. The more advanced medical science becomes the more we as human beings advance in our daily lives and the future. Some day I’d like to think the world I walk and live in has become more accepting of all things around us. Granted, I know there’s a lot of factors to play up to that point and by gods we all have to hit rock bottom before it gets to that point. I can still hope and dream though.
I’ll get to the meat of this post though and save you my rants about humanity for later.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the word depression. It seems to be a buzz word in conversations now a days, which is a good thing. Bi polar might be another maybe not so much talked about word that is out there along with many others as well. There may be confusion, misunderstanding, misinformation and the like about these words and others pertaining to mental disorders. So I’d like to clear up a few things from my perspective. From someone who suffers from these and more on a daily basis. I’m not a health professional. I’m not a psychologist, though that’s what I want to be later on in life. What you read from me, comes from me. Comes from a person who battles and lives with these disorders. You may relate to some of it, you may not. If you feel like sharing your story down below, I will say thank you for breaking that stigma that hangs around you and I every day.
Discussions and conversations are our biggest weapon against the fight and struggle we put up with daily. Getting others to understand that we suffer from a medical condition and how to help us.

Some days are harder than others. I live with Bi polar 2, which in it’s own self has a long list of side effects to which I’ll list in a bit. I also live with depression, severe anxiety, PTSD from emotional trauma, and ADHD (Yes adults deal with it as well)
“Is it easy?” you might ask. No, it isn’t. “Is there a cure?” No, there isn’t yet. “How do you live with these?” From day to day. “How can I help?”
By understanding that each person’s disorder is different for them, that being open minded, not jumping to conclusions and listening to the person and what they need is sometimes the best medicine there is. Shutting someone away because you choose not to understand or have patience with them is only furthering the same path we as humans have taken against anything we don’t understand since we’ve evolved to have functioning logical brains. We are smarter than that, we can be smarter than our past selves, I truly believe that.

So how exactly does my mental disorders hinder my days you might ask. Let’s take a look at my pattern of behavior real fast. Over a 6 month period I will suffer from insomnia for about a week or so. This hinders me being able to fall asleep until late nights up until around 4am. Than after a few days of falling asleep at 4am my body will do a shut down the next time I sleep and I won’t be able to be roused easily before 8am (when my children get up and ready for school) so my husband and roommate have to help them instead. I can sleep in hard sleep mode for anywhere from 8 to 12 hours and if I wake up before the 8 I feel extremely groggy, jumbled, forgetful and agitated the rest of that day. After 3 or so days of that and trying to keep up with the living day world, I’ll start to spiral.
My anxiety will peak higher than normal. I will have panic attacks more and more often(the fight or flight response. Elevated heart rate, sweating, light headed, adrenaline rush, pit of stomach feeling.) Anything can trigger this and I’m usually more on edge. As the days go on I’ll become overwhelmed, exhausted more easily, paranoid about a lot of things and my mood swings can set in. At this point I’m so stressed from everything I might blow up at the nearest person. If that happens I hit a rock bottom response where I can feel suicidal, depressed, lack motivation and I’ll wall my self shut of emotion. I may eat way less, not want to leave my house, talk to anyone and the list goes on. This pattern persists over the course of sometimes a month to six. If we have financial trouble or something unexpected pops up, it worsens.

Now don’t get me wrong. I do have good days in there. I try my very best to have more good than bad. In fact I’ve sought out counseling sessions just recently and looking at medication as an option finally to help ease my anxiety, insomnia and depression. I want to have good days. Who wants to sit at home, looking at the clock and it’s only 3pm and you’ve been awake since only 11am and you feel like you are ready to go back to bed because the overwhelming stone pit in your stomach says so? No one that’s who, me included.

I don’t want sympathy. I don’t want apologies. You, nor I have nothing to apologize over. Medically there is something going on in my brain chemistry that has forever effected me since the day I was born. You can’t help that you have the color eyes you do and I can’t help the fact I have a mental disorder or that I’m trans on top of it all. It’s that simple. I just want people to understand that it literally comes down to that above sentence. If there was a pill to ‘correct or cure’ these disorders I’d take it tomorrow and never look back. But just as anything we’re born with that we don’t like about ourselves, we have to find means to handle and deal with them our own way. I thought for the last 12 years of my life I’d be ok without medication. And for a while I was. But my symptoms have not improved and for my self personally I’m seeking treatment. Does that make me better than someone else? Hell no. It makes me self aware of my own boundaries and limitations. That’s it. There’s no further commentary needed on my end.

Will I become an out spoken advocate for therapy and medicine? Not really. If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental disorder and their lives are being impacted by it, I would suggest at least seeking counsel with a medical professional to speak with. There is always a better way of going about doing things but just remember this, it varies from person to person. What works for me necessarily won’t work for you.

I will put a link here for those who are at that cliff in their lives right now or may be later on, that need this type of help. I know I did. I reached out because I had no one to speak to about what’s going on with me and they made me realize I really could use more help than I wanted to admit.
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
They have an online chat as well in case it’s hard for you to get the words to come out vocally like I do. I’m a much better organized mess so to speak when I can type it out rather than verbally convey it.

I’ll wrap this long winded post up now. I just felt that today, on a rainy Tuesday, I could help someone out there not feel so alone. I could open up this topic for discussion and maybe shed some light to those who hadn’t stopped to think about it.