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.

Exhausted

I got a gentle reminder the other day that I had neglected to write in my blog. I thought, “There isn’t really much that can be said.” But I’ve been reflecting again as of late on a few things. I’m going to preface this with a minor warning. It’s going to be ranty. I’m not going to sugar coat anything. I’m exhausted, in pain and frustrated. Be warned, there are talks of suicide in this as well.

I attended Pride in Kansas City recently and it was a mixed bag of feelings. It usually is though with the community. On one hand I feel supported in some small way. That existing as I do is ok. On the other, I feel swarmed by judgmental eyes from a lot of the queer community. I know that’s a broad statement and please don’t understand me wrong. I know the majority see equality for everyone. But those bad apples sure do stand out.
But I’m not here to talk about that. Laverne Cox pretty much sums up how I feel about all of that here in this article: Laverne Cox addresses the issues in the LGBTQA community

No, I’m here to talk about the transmen I walked past, shirts no where to be seen, proudly showing their chests. It’s a double edged sword for me. I’m so happy to see them happy with themselves. I truly am and honestly am. But the feelings are quickly overshadowed by jealousy, silent rage and guilt.
I’ve struggled now for 3 years on obtaining my surgery. I’ve exhausted every outlet I can only to show up at a dead end sign, flashing brightly in my face with a curt FU tacked on.
I’m almost at the end of my rope. My patience and denial wear thinner by the day as the pain from my binder slices into my shoulders and sides. The thoughts of being able to just toss a T shirt on haunt me. Not having to twist and struggle to put on this torture device that strains my stomach and restricts my breathing would be a god send.
I’ve grown to self hatred, swearing I would quit smoking but an hour later chain smoke 2 in a row because I just want it to end faster.

I have too much guilt weighing on my heart to ever end it all. I love my family too much to make them suffer any more than they already are. So it’s not so much of a question of will I but more so, when will the thoughts go away? I don’t want to feel like I have to grab the nearest kitchen knife and just do the job myself.

I’ve tried insurance. I’ve tried finding a job that has insurance that covers it. Currently I’ve been with Target for over a year now. But guess what? They keep cutting my hours. I’m trying to hit 30 a week so I qualify but the more I ask, the less hours I get. The resounding no’s echo every day and here I am.. wallowing in what feels like a constant state of frozen eternity.
And don’t get me started on those sites that offer funding. 3 people.. out of hundreds. It’s a damn raffle of chance. I make money so I must be able to save and qualify for help and blah blah blah. So you don’t get any help.
I haven’t been able to save anything higher than $20 to my paycheck in a long damn time. I’ve tried finding better paying jobs but let me tell you.. with 1 car and 3 working adults and no babysitter? Good luck.

The thought of starting a fund me page almost sends me into a spell of sickness and regret. What’s the point? Get maybe $100, sound like a spam bot, and then sink even lower emotionally before I finally admit myself to a hospital because the depression gets to be too much?

I’m at a complete loss. I’m tired of being in pain. I’m exhausted trying to think of ways to get even $500 we won’t need for food let alone a surgery. I don’t qualify for medical credit because I’ve tried and they’ve denied me on more than one occasion. I don’t qualify for medicaid.. not like they’d cover it anyways. The state of Missouri doesn’t require them too and Trump has been dismantling everything in between.

So what’s the point? I just don’t know what to do. I honestly don’t. No one is going to hand me $8,000 to have surgery and insurance that covers it seems like a rich man’s dream. I can’t walk out in public with a C sized chest and just expect to feel even remotely comfortable. And I can’t go through with offing my self.

I’m so unimaginably uncomfortable with this situation it makes my skin crawl.
It’d almost be worth leaving this Earth with a note saying Trump is one of the many reasons I left and send it to the media. Be one last hurrah for others in my situation needing help. But I just can’t.

So here I sit. Typing to the void. I didn’t want to come to my blog today and make it rain bullshit. I honestly didn’t. And it really didn’t help fill the blank space I have inside me either. But here it is. Laid out for whomever decides to read it.

Just know. If you feel the same way. You’re not alone at least.

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.

 

I’ m covered!

So my paranoia ended up being a good thing!

I got a bit antsy at not knowing whether or not my insurance was going to cover my top surgery. The lady I spoke to yesterday wouldn’t give me a definitive answer and that really bugged me.
So I went looking and asking around for surgery codes today.
Ran across Dr Garramone’s site where they actually listed the codes (what they meant and were for etc) and jotted them down and called my insurance.
I asked for a case manager but was told none was available but the lady said she’d check the codes for me.
After being on hold multiple times, clarifying things and reminding them that they can’t deny me on the basis of being transgender, she came back saying that the surgery and fees are all covered for me!

I’m now tasked with getting 3 letters from my pcp, therapist and surgeon on my documentation of transition, a referral from my pcp to the surgeon and a referral from the surgeon and that’s it.
That’s freaking it. I’m.. so fucking ecstatic. I’m over the moon with delight that over 2 years later, pain, embarrassment, aches and dysphoria, I finally get to have this done and I don’t have to pay a cent.

Just.. going to thank Obama (in the sincerest way, along with the department of justice) because literally without them, I’d still be fucked.

So I have my consultation with the surgeon is on the 19th and the office lady said if everything goes through the insurance smoothly and without issue, I could be scheduled for surgery as early as the 2nd week of October this year.

I’m going to go have a mini celebration of screeching internally for the next hour.