Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wandering Soul Syndrome

There are people who find a spot in life and make themselves comfortable there.  I was one of those people until the day I had my first injection of estrogen.  I realized, deep down, that I was crossing a threshold from which I could not retreat and would very likely lead to upheaval in every element of my world.

Until that time my life was very clearly divided into 3 parts.  I call the first my "Transient" Phase, and it covered the entire period from my birth until my high school graduation.  My father was an academic in a very specialized field and was paid to come to universities on one year fellowships to help establish biophysics departments there.  As a result, we moved almost every year.  When I think back to my time in grade school it's all based on where we were living at the time....6th grade Buffalo NY, 7th grade Santa Barbara CA, 8th grade East Lansing Michigan, 9th grade back to Buffalo.  Over a period of 5 years I attended 5 different schools.  Whereas kids of those in military service sometimes to refer to themselves as "Army brats" I referred to myself as an "Academic brat".  Different specialty, same result.

The second part of my life covered my 4 years of college.  I was anxious to live on my own but circumstance had other ideas.  I went to 3 colleges in 2 countries, and took an entire semester off, before graduating from Syracuse University in 1981.  Those years seemed to continue the theme of Transience that had dominated my life until then - the difference being that until that time I couldn't get away even if I wanted because I wasn't "of age" but for those four years, I was simply being practical.

That all ended one night in November 1990 when I met a woman who would eventually become my wife.  With her I found the stability that had eluded me to that point in life, and after a year of getting established we bought our first house near Rochester NY.  We lived in that house for 15 years - that was my Stable Phase.

Artists rendition of "home" on Cottonwood Ln, in Pittsford NY....
My son was born there.  My career grew from nothing and became successful there.  I had a side business that hatched and thrived there.  We made lots of friends there, and eventually the entire rest of my immediate family came to live there (only briefly).  My father died there.  The roots that had eluded me to that point in life finally took hold, growing deep and strong.

In 1995 we decided that we'd had enough of the harsh winters there and bought a house in Scottsdale AZ.  It seemed like paradise, and we expected to live there for the balance of our lives.  That calm lasted until the moment I described earlier, in 1997, when I got that first shot.  Everything that followed was a gradual but accelerating trajectory into the theme of my early days - no roots.

I left the Valley in 2000 with the expectation of setting new roots in Austin, TX.  I had been hired by Dell, and it was my first job ever as me - every job before that was thanks to the exterior I presented before transition.  I envisioned setting those same roots that I had established in Rochester there but time and circumstance had other ideas.  After 4 years I was back in the Valley.

Over the past 10 years I've had more than 10 addresses.  People have

The Valley seems to have a way of calling/bringing me back.  It's the most fertile place I've lived as far as career opportunities go.  I've got more dear friends there than anywhere else.  I love the weather, and the quality of life.  I've learned the hard way that there are specific areas of the Valley that energize me, and others with which I feel no connection whatsoever.

All that writing is a round-about way of saying that I am hoping that my history of Wandering Soul Syndrome is finally coming to an end.  Ever the optimist, I'm approaching what happens over the next several months cautiously and for many significant reasons I will refuse to fully relinquish my connection to the the Low Country.  But if and when the stability I'm seeking proves to be more than a mirage I'll do what needs to be done - whether that be in Phoenix or in Charleston.

I'd be lying if I said I haven't grown weary of all of this.  But I'd also be lying if I said I'd allow that weariness to determine where I ultimately land.  I suppose time and circumstance will work their magic, as usual, to help make the decisions clear.  Until then, onwards.

Last week a group of us spent a week in Phoenix to attend dear Maria's Holiday Party.  Dear friends came from all over the country to attend, and I had a wonderful time.  It reminded me how much I miss life there and was a very much appreciated pre-welcome back.

Some of my dearest friends in the world converged in the Valley recently for Maria's Holiday event
One of the highlights (among a week of highlights) was a weekend run along my old running route.  In the earliest days, before transition, I started to train my body in an effort to re-shape it.  All the muscle I'd built over the years needed to go, and I needed to lose 20 pounds to get to a place where I'd be comfortable moving forward.  In order to achieve that I trained as hard as I've trained for any physical event or competition I've ever entered.  A key part of that involved early morning runs near our north Scottsdale neighborhood - up near Pinnacle Peak.

It's gorgeous country.  Unspoiled, large saguaro cactus everywhere, largely removed from "civilization" - even after these many years since I ran with a keen sense of purpose.  I took an hour on Saturday afternoon to re-trace those steps and although I'm not as fast as I remember the run was more enjoyable because of the appreciation of what those many miles along those roads have led to.

The beauty of the Sonoran desert along my running route - a truly magical place for me.
I've had some of my most introspective moments on those runs, where the mind just wanders and goes places it doesn't seem to go when the body isn't in motion.  My most recent run was similarly magical, and I look forward to doing more of them in the future.

On the medical front I went to the surgeon today to get the results of my recent CT scan and was told I've got a clean bill of health.  My discomfort is likely due to physical exertion but there's nothing that needs to be "fixed".  I'm glad, and relieved.

I talked with my mom today.  I've got a lot on my plate, and a lot on my mind, and talking with her helped.  I expect to see her again sometime between now and the New Year, on my way to Phoenix.  I appreciate the opportunities I've got while I can.  Like so many things - you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

Onwards!






Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Planning Within the Headlights

It has been quite a while since I have checked in here.  I have no idea if anyone even visits anymore, although I know at least one person (hey Sophie!) misses me.

I have no explanation other than I haven't felt the need to write.  I think there are a number of reasons.
Two contributing factors:  (a) the availability of other avenues to do it and (b) my need for a little time and space.

The main "other" area where I share elements of my day-to-day life is Facebook.  Over the years I've established a definite love/hate relationship with FB and admittedly don't share with the same depth or detail there as I typically do here.  Although I've got many "friends" there, most don't know me or haven't followed my life other than what the see or read via what I share there.  I've reached a point where I don't share much there anymore - if I post a brief update more than once or twice a week that's a lot.

A lot has happened in my life since my last post.  There's no way for me to catch up here on everything between then and now so I won't really try right now.  I think a year-end retrospective is probably on the way so I'll fill in the necessary blanks a little later.

That said - I'm back because I NEED to write.  I've got a lot going on in my life right now and writing has always been a pathway to clarity for me.  I've always felt that if you can take the time to articulate complex thoughts and emotions you provide yourself the opportunity to make sense of it all. What I'm about to say here is only available here.  Less than a half dozen people know any of this, but heading into what's about to happen I've got a lot to work out.  As a result - I'm back.

Two events have shaped my current mindset this past year, and have affected decisions I've been making.

The first was when I ended up in the ER in April.  I was in Charlotte, where I've been working for the better part of the past two years.  When I was lying in that hospital bed, curled up in pain, the nurse was asking me intake questions. This is what I wrote in my blog entry at the end of May:
As I lay in the hospital last week the nurse asked me if I had anyone locally that they could call, or who could pick me up if I needed it.  As I thought about it the depressing reality was "no".  I really have no friends in Charlotte.  I work there.  My co-workers and I get along great but we're not on a level where I'd want to share too much personal medical information.  For all intents and purposes, I was all alone.  And that sucked.
Over the course of the last several months that singular realization has felt like a wake-up call.  It said volumes to me about the trade-offs we make in life and the fact that I was accepting my dual-existence of home/career where bulk of my time is spent away from home as "ok".  It isn't.

My living arrangements over these past couple of years have been a little less than ideal, given the fact that I typically commute over 200 miles a week between Charleston (where I live) and Charlotte (where I work).  It has taken quite a bit of time, energy, and money to maintain this dual life.  But the fact of the matter is that my deepest need in recent years has been to set roots as "home" and I had decided (for a number of compelling reasons) that those roots need to grow in Charleston.  The unfortunate outcome of that decision - and one that I had simply accepted - was acquiescence that the cost necessarily involved travel.

Starting the night I was in the ER, I headed down a path that stressed the importance of surrounding ourselves with our support networks - our dearest friends, the people who care most about us, the people you can count on or can call any time night or day and they'll be there.  Having those people around you is more than simply convenience - it's critical.  So - coming out of that experience I found renewed dedication to surround myself with my support network.

There are 3 places I've lived in this world and have those kinds of friends.  First - there's Rochester NY.  That's home.  Second, there's here in Charleston - but the problem has consistently been that I can't find a job here so I end up traveling and making my life complicated.  Third - perhaps the largest group of those people in my life are in Phoenix.

The second event was much less dramatic, but equally as affecting.  To be honest, I still don't know what caused it and if I were to try to explain it my words would only trivialize it.  It happened over Easter when plans that had been made got changed.  It wasn't so  much that they changed that caused the upheaval in me....it was HOW that week unfolded that caused the uproar in my world.

In that same blog entry from late May I wrote:
I look at the various events and people from my life who have led me to where I am now.  Some of those people and things have faded away, others have weaved themselves into the fabric of my world, and others have become foundational elements.  Good decisions, bad decisions, wisdom (or lack of it)  in choosing friends and placing trust, strongly held beliefs that transform themselves into life decisions....they're all part of this tapestry that makes up my life right now.
The key phrase in all of that is  "Strongly held beliefs that transform themselves into life decisions".  As the beliefs change, so too do the possibilities worthy of consideration and the subsequent decisions that get made.

Both those events have led me to question whether or not the foothold that I thought I had in Charleston is really the long-term "roots" I've been seeking.  It still might be, but whereas I once felt sure now I've got questions.  When I've set my mind to something I can be pretty tenacious about it, but when something causes me to stop and take a step back it becomes time to reassess given the appropriate opportunity to pause.

The next natural opportunity happens at year-end, with the end of my contract in Charlotte.  I've been there for two years now, and a number of decisions needed to be made about "what next?"  Given my mindset - there are more options than simply accepting that more of the same is ok.  I was offered a 3 month extension, which I turned down - more of the same ISN'T ok.  I've exhausted efforts to find something worthwhile locally.

Without going into all the details - I have accepted a long-term opportunity that will bring me back to Phoenix at the beginning of the year.  The logistics of how that is going to happen become overwhelming to this little brain whenever I try to wrap my mind around them.  I'm sure they will be the source of future entries here.

If getting myself back across the country in two weeks weren't enough - there is the potential complication of a medical procedure that may need to happen between now and the end of the year as well.  I had an appointment with a surgeon late last week who sent me for a CT scan to get a better idea of what's going on.  I've got an appointment with him tomorrow to review the results so I expect I'll know more then than I do now.

I've very good at considering life in short-term bites.  I call it planning within the headlights.  It's like driving on a dark road at night - all you know is that is illuminated by your headlights - the rest is just dark.  You react to each turn as it appears in front of you, and you can't really get too far ahead of yourself.  That's how I approach things like this.  I'm gauging everything that needs to happen between now and the day I'm supposed to start my new job in Phoenix (Jan 4).  The rest is just the details (although I'm told that's where the devil lives).

There is quite a bit of irony in all of this.  Most of my life "stuff" lived in a storage unit in the Valley for several years until I finally went to get it 18 months ago.  I truly expected that my days of calling the Valley "home" had come to an end.  And even as I write this I'm not saying that my time in Charleston is over, either.  We'll see how all of this unfolds.  What I am saying, however, is that life as I know it is about to change.  Again.  It's a good thing I deal well with change.....

Lastly - it's nice to be back!  :)



Friday, August 14, 2015

Spare no expense

As I type this I'm sitting in a hotel room near Birmingham, AL.  I'm on my way to Dallas to pick up my other pup and drive him back to Charleston.

There is quite a bit of emotion wrapped up in this.  Leaving him with my mom in early February was one of the hardest emotional traumas I've experienced in a long time.  One of the things that allowed me to leave that house without him was justifying to myself that it was in his best interest....that my mom's stable world was a better fit for him than my own gypsy life.  Anyway - without going into too much detail - I'm headed back to get him.  I don't mind admitting - I'm excited.

Cody man!!!

There are a few things in life where I spare no expense. I have no problem justifying additional cost, distance, or effort if I can convince myself that I'm getting what I need.

My make-up is one of those things. 95% of my stuff is from MAC. They earned my loyalty many years ago and I've probably got a small store's worth of their stuff.

Another of those things is my hair.
Over the years I've put my hair into the hands of a number of people who ultimately became dear friends.  It's typically more than just a service-related thing for me....in order to give my hair some "personality" it involves knowing a little about me.  It's a relationship....a long-term relationship.  And, in some instances, a long-distance relationship.

At the very beginning of my transition I had convinced myself that in order to be percieved as feminine I needed long hair.  As wrong-minded as that was, learning that I was wrong was an important step in the development of my ideals of feminity, masculinity, and who-the-heck-cares.

I'll never forget my earliest wigs.  While I tried to grow my hair out to a sufficient length I wore them to my first support group meetings, and on my initial tentative steps out into the world.  Funny thing is, they probably drew more attention my way than they deflected but that's the thing about a crutch....it's not a rational thing, it's an emotional one. 

I will never forget the night I took my wig off...and it hasn't been on since.  I had recently come back from seeing Dr. O and my own hair was still very short.  But the wig was hot, it was unruly, and most importantly it put pressure on the spot in the hairline where Dr. O had made his incision.  It hurt. 

I decided then and there that whatever hair I had was the hair I'd use.  In a way - it became part of my identity.

In the early days I kept it long.  Eventually one of my hairdressers in Austin asked if I wanted to be bold and change things up and we cut it pretty short.  It stayed that way for 3 or 4 years before I eventually started growing it out again.

I've done some research and found a hairdresser that I wanted to entrust with a little bit of a shorter, layered, lighter style. Here's the result (pardon the crude photo....it's hard to take a good side picture of your hair in a hotel room bathroom mirror).  The mark of a good hairstyle in my book is that it looks just as good when you style it yourself as when the stylist does it at the salon, and how it looks a week later.




So far - I like.

I'm getting to ready to leave the hotel for the 10 hour drive to Dallas.  If all goes according to plan I'll see my mom tonight!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Time in a Bottle

Today is my 15th anniversary of SRS.  I didn't even realize it until someone sent me a congratulations text.  Lord, how time flies.

In the year leading up to this day I had a countdown on my computer telling me the number of days left until SRS.  When it got less than 100 I was thrilled.  When it got less than 30, I couldn't believe it.  And with it got less than 7 - well, I was amazed.  The good news is - I'm still amazed.

In the years that followed I celebrated this milestone date for the significant role it played in my life.  I typically celebrated it alone as it was a time for reflection, introspection, and appreciation that really didn't need anyone else to be special.  I'm sure I could look back over my blogs to see the things I've done over this last decade to mark this milestone.

Not surprisingly, it has become just another day.  I'm more aware of my FFS anniversary than my SRS anniversary as that actually had the larger impact.  I don't want to minimize or trivialize SRS but by the time it arrived I needed it as much for congruency and closure as anything.

15 years represents over 25% of my life.  That's crazy....

One of the things I came across recently while unpacking was a stack of video tapes that contain my family "home movies".  They're called "Memory" tapes because theyt're labled "Memories 1", Memories 2" and so on....sometimes with the accompanying dates.  I used to have a video production company so I always had a video camera around.  As a result - there are a significant number of Memories tapes.

When I was told I was no longer welcome in my house I left without taking anything with me.  In retrospect, I would have done that much differently as there are things I would have wanted if I had known then what I know now.  Regardless - I didn't have any of the Memories tapes.

In the years shortly afterwards my son brought me a pile of the tapes on one of his visits.  He said his mother would never watch them so he brought the ones he could find.  I've brought them with me here and there and everywhere, but it's time to transfer them to DVD.  I'd like a copy, my mom wants a copy, and I'd like my son to have a copy as it covers everything from the day we found out that we were pregnant to the day I left home in 1999. 

I brought the first one in to see what the output is like earlier this week - I'll let you know.

My ex-wife and I haven't spoken in a couple of years now.  She has her life and I have mine, and the only thing we've got in common is 20 years of memories and a son.  Although I had a strong suspicion that it would be wasted energy I wrote to her last week to tell her what I was doing, to inquire if she was interested in a copy, and to ask if I could borrow the Memories tapes she still has.  Needless to say, I haven't heard anything back yet and I don't expect to.  That's a shame, and I'm still hopeful that I can get them.

I'm actually looking forward to seeing what's on them.  Things were much simpler back then, or at least that's how I remember it.  Anyway - stay tuned on that front.

I've got quite a bit of traveling coming up.  Later this week I'll be starting out on the 1,100 mile drive to Dallas.  I'm headed there to pick up my dog, Cody.  I left him with my mom in February and was heartsick over it for months.  Anyway, my mom has asked me to come and get him and it is without hesitation that I'll be coming home with one more furry friend than I've got now.  But it will involve a 2,200 mile round trip over 4 days - yuck.

Then, I've got a dear friend coming to visit for a few days.

Finally, I'll be headed up to Rochester NY at the end of the month on my mom's annual birthday pilgrimage.  She's turning 86 this year.  It's the only time that our entire family gets together so I wouldn't miss it for anything. 

I'll travel back to Dallas in early October to participate in a conference there.  And I suspect I'll have another trip - or two - in between.  Now that summer is coming to an end, it appears that I'll need to dust off my suitcase. 

Back to the significance of this day.  For years there was only one other person who knew what this day was and she called to congratulate me every year.  She was a wonderful, very special person in my life who passed away a number of years ago.  Thanks to those who still remember and who remind me. 

Some who visit here regularly know that I've posted all the various correspondences, emails, diary entries, and background "stuff" that eventually ended up as my book.  When significant anniversaries pass - like today - I go there to re-live them (Trapped In Blue).  I hope I never forget where I've come from, or lose the appreciation of what it has taken to get here from there. :)

Onwards!



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

To "Feel"

I've got an interesting topic tonight.  Hormones.

I will never, ever, ever forget the day that my therapist told me she was ready to recommend me to start hormones.  Or, the day I visited the doctor who would become my transition-doctor for the first time to inquire about his hormone regimen.  Or, my first estrogen shot.  All were earth-shattering, life-changing experiences for me.

My doctor from those days is still practicing.  He's Dr. Ken Fisher at First Family Medical in Phoenix.  I make it a point to go and visit him every time I visit the Valley.  He never fails to complain that they need to make a movie of my book soon, or Brad Pitt will be too old to play him.  Too funny.  When I stopped by in June he said his trans practice was booming...it's hard to believe I first started seeing him in 1997 ir 1998...almost 20 years ago.  THAT makes me feel old.

At the time his regimen was a strict one.  High dosage of Premarin twice a day.  Spiro.  And, bi-weekly injections. 

Those injections became like crack to me.  I'd drive the half hour to get to the doctor's office at lunchtime from work, and I'd be both excited and nervous.  The excited part came from how they made me feel....especially the growth in the breast area.  The nervous part came from the fact that I still hadn't come out to my wife yet, and it became increasingly difficult to hide what was happening.

After SRS there seems to be no singular definition of what HRT for post-op transwomen should be.  I stayed on the injectibles for a long time.  Early on, I was too queasy to give myself my shots so I had my girlfriend at the time do it.  Eventually, though, I learned to do it myself and that's how it happened for a long time....until the vials of estradiol became too expensive.

Not long ago the price of a little vial had gone up to $200.  I can't afford that.  So, I switched to pills which were cheaper than candy.  But it's not the same...the effects aren't the same, the feelings aren't the same.  It might be the same drug but you couldn't prove it by me.  It was almost like taking my morning asperin...

A few months ago I found that the price per vial had come back down to reasonable territory so I started back up.  It was great....and all those same effects came back.  Sore breast tissue.  Emotional roller coaster.  I could "feel" it again. 

I don't have an explanation.  It has nothing to do with my blood chemistry, as my most recent levels were very high after almost a year off injections.  But these is something else there that can't be measured.  At least, for me there is.

Unpacking....

When I was a child we moved pretty much every year.  My dad was an academic in a very specialized field, and we went from university to university for my dad to help establish biophysics departments - not unlike being an "Army Brat", I suppose.  I went to 6 different schools in 7 years, and when I think back to my childhood it's all centered around what grade I was in and where we were living.  6th Grade: Lindberg Elementary in Kenmre NY.  7th Grade in Santa Barbara, CA.  8th Grade near East Lansing, MI.  9th Grade at Kenmore Jr. HS.  10th and 11th grades at Kenmore West HS.  And 12th grade at Queen Elizabeth HS in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

I hated all that moving.  If you ever get a chance to talk with my mom she'll tell you that the mark of making a place "feel" like home is putting stuff up on the walls.  After a while, we knew we'd have to pack everything up again in a year so we didn't even both unpacking some of it, and we stopped putting stuff up on the walls.

When I got married one of the vows I made was to change that - to live a more stable life.  And I succeeded, too.  My ex- and I bought our first house near Rochester NY in 1982 and lived in it for 15 years before moving to Scottsdale.  Needless to say, anyone who has followed me for any length of time knows I've got my traveling shoes back on and I've live in more places than I can remember since being asked to leave home in 1999.

The reason I mention any of that is that I've spent the last few days putting things up on the walls.  My lease on this house is only a year (although I'm hoping it will be longer) but it's critical to me to make it "feel" like home.  I don't care if I'll need to pack it all back up again....for now I'm home.

As I've unpacked I've come across all kinds of interesting things that have been tucked away in boxes.  I really do need to go through some of it and throw some of it away - but that task will have to wait.  I'm still enjoying the discovery part.

With all this recent attention on Caitlyn Jenner I've seen lists of "Transgender Pioneers".  I think it was Groucho Marx who said, "I'd never join a club that would have someone like me as a member."  Well - I've got two things to say on those kinds of lists. 

First - it's good to recognize some of our history.  I'm concerned that the history will get forgotten, and that would be a shame.  I'll never forget speaking at a University and being asked to talk with the cast of a student production of Rent.  It became apparent very quickly that none of those kids knew anything about the AIDS epidemic in the '90s and the huge impact it had.  It was central to the entire plot, but these kids were born afterwards and had no memory of AIDS, or the quilt, or any of the history of their community.

Second - any list of pioneers that doesn't have the REAL pioneers - people like Jamison Green - on it is an imcomplete - and ultimately flawed - list.  It is unfortunate (but understandable) that all this visibility on celebrities (actors and actresses, models, producers and directors, children of Hollywood) seem to make our history significantly shorter than it is.  The key is that I don't think most of the early pioneers ever really wanted attention in the first place so being overlooked on recent lists isn't a big deal.

Anyways - those are my thoughts tonight.  I'll continue to do this...it's actually kind of refreshing to be back here just writing the first things that come to my mind.  Onwards!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Extended Vacay

Hello!

I appologize (again) for my extended vacation from my blog.  There's no reason for it other than the fact that I seem to spend less and less time in front of a computer these days and more time out actually doing things.  I suppose that's good news, but know that I very much appreciate those who have written to touch base, check on me, or indicate that they miss my entries.  I'll try to be better at it going forward.

I'll start by providing a brief synopsis of recent events in my world.

First off - my health.  After all those tests we learned three things:  (1) there is a benign "mass" the size of a golf ball on my liver that we'll watch (2) there are no indications as to what caused the internal bleeding that put me in the hospital so we'll watch that, too and (3) I'm generally pretty healthy. 

The downside of all this is measured in both cost (I've got relatively high deductibles so there is quite an OUCH factor) and that dealing with insurance is a pain.  I don't want to go into details because it'll get me riled up, but I'm disputing a couple of claims.  Lordy.

So - health seems to be fine for now.  My heart is good.  My psyche is good.  My overall outlook is good.  There are certainly minor complaints here and there but given the various dynamics that make up my world most of them seem to be in balance.  Plus - it's summer - and I absolutely love this time of year.

The biggest news is that I moved into a house on July 1.  Eternal thanks go to my friend Colin for helping me on that brutal day we moved everything from storage into the house I'm renting.  It's a 4-bedroom house in Charleston and I'm absolutely loving it.  I love the floor plan, I've got a little yard with a lawn, the garage is big enough to handle my various vehicles, it's convenient to things, the master bedroom is huge, it's bright....I can't think of a downside. 

Our neighborhood faces a large pond and there are geese and turtles there.  There's a sign warning of the possibility of alligators but I haven't seen one.  Regardless, it makes for very pretty walks in the morning or later in the day; sunrises and sunsets look amazing when reflected on the water.


Sunset on the pond in front of my house.
Evening storms rolling in make for pretty colors.....The pond in front of my house.

The view from my front porch.
 
Moving in was a brutal day.  I've moved more times than I care to count, but 90+ degree humid South Carolina days can sap the strength from even the hardiest of us.  By the end of the day we had just finished before some wild thunderstorms opened up on us.  After a shower, some fresh clothes, a couple glasses of wine and some pizza, and sitting on the back porch watching the lightning show it was a day I won't forget.

We move lots of the boxes into the garage so I'm bringing it into the house and putting it where it belongs little by little.  I'm fairiy well along in that, but it's an ongoing process.

Boxes staged for put-away


Work is going well.  I'm still working on contract in Charlotte but have the flexibility to work from home most of the time.  That makes all the difference.  The thing that changed the dynamic of spending most of my workweek there, and weekends in Charleston, was my visit to the ER.  It was depressing being in a hospital in a town where I have absolutely no friends - where I have no support network.  That experience changed everything from being "ok" with the convenience of it all to forcing a better long-term solution. 

I've been pulling my stuff out of the place in Charlotte I've been staying little by little and there's only a small bit of oit left.  I've got one more trip left and need a trailer for that - now that I've gotten rid of my truck I don't have anything to bring the mattress home with. 

The last time I posted that I was in a good place is just before my health issues.  I'm just enjoying this while it lasts.  Honestely - I know I've said this before, but it's true. There are not enough hours in the day to do the things I want to do.

The weather this summer has been a typical Carolina summer.  Hot days in the mid 90's, very humid forcing heat index into the low 100's, and often a late afternoon/early evening thunderstorm blowing thru.  I love it.

A curtain of rain - dead ahead.


In broader community news, Caitlyn Jenner's new reality series started over the weekend.  I'm confident it will be well done and will extend awareness of trans realities into places we've never been before.  I shared on FB that I won't watch it - not for anything it is or isn't other than I don't watch reality shows.  Besides, I'm sure I'll hear enough about it thru other venues so there's no need to watch it myself.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Calm

Good morning.

I had a marvelous weekend.  The weather was beautiful, I spent most of it on a motorcycle, and I got to spend some time enjoying some of the coastal charms of this beautiful state.  All things considered - it's a shame it had to end.

I decided to share my "news" on FB.  People are finding out in all kinds of different ways and I wanted to remove the chance that things get blown out of proportion.  At this point all we know is that there's something in there.  I hope we learn more over these next few days.

Ironically, the liver thing isn't the reason I was in the ER in the first place.  Tests are going on on that front, as well.  Now that I've recovered the pressure to figure that out seems to have waned.  The good news is that my blood is good, and biopsies they've done on various "things" they've taken from inside of me have turned up clean.  That's all good news, but doesn't get to a cause.

One of the frustrating things is that everything seems to take a week.  When all this first happened the soonest I could get into the doctor was a week.  Then, it took another week to do all the tests.  Now, I'll go back to see the doctor a week later.  I suspect he'll want to do a biopsy of the "mass" and that will probably take another week (or more).  I'd like to speed this whole thing up.

That said, I don't know that any of it has sunk in yet.  I "feel" good, and although the weight of knowing what little I do know at the moment is always there I don't let myself dwell on it.  I haven't cried over it yet.  And, I'm thankful to have people in my life to help focus on other things during this time of investigation.

On Friday night I had originally planned to spend the weekend with some of my dearest friends in Charleston - their kindness and love towards me has been one of the reasons the city feels so much like home.  Instead, I headed out for some time alone then ended up in Myrtle Beach for a friend's son's lacrosse tournament.  I probably put 500 miles on the bike over the weekend but it was worth it.

Lacrosse under big, puffy clouds....

On the way home I went through a brief shower.  It was the first time I've ridden in rain, and it actually felt wonderful.  Cooling, cleansing.  I stopped in Georgetown - a quaint little city halfway between Charleston and Myrtle Beach - for lunch.  Watching the boats, smelling the sea air - that's why I enjoy it here. 

The Boardwalk along the waterfront in Georgetown, SC












I am under no illusions that things are not about to get busier than I'd like them to be so I'm treating this as the calm before the storm.

I asked my doctor for a list of therapists I can talk with - I miss having that kind of outlet.  When I transitioned one of the best parts was finally having someone I could talk with who could offer constructive, thought-provoking feedback.  I realize there are many who feel that the requirement for a year of therapy as part of the Standards of Care is intrusive but for me, it was wonderful.

I'd go so far as to suggest that the fact many of us stop seeing a therapist as soon as we can is actually a hole in the safety net.  Once you've made all the moves to permanently be who you are having that continuing sounding board can be very important.  Many of us - including me - don't take advantage of it.

But now that I'm at this stage I've got a number of things on my mind that I need to discuss with someone.  The physical questions currently on the table are part of it but there's more than that.  Anyway, my doctor recommended 4 therapists that she thought would be good for me so I'll choose one and see where that goes...