Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Higher Highs and Deeper Waters

Yesterday was spent hiking.  We hiked the Humphreys Peak Trail just north of Flagstaff (details here).

I've spent time uploading some of my photos to a couple of different albums.  They should be viewable by anyone....
My favorite way to look at these photos is to use the Flickr "Lightbox" effect and scroll thru the photos using the navigation buttons at the top.  Although it doesn't show the descriptions I like the larger sizes of the photos, and for some reason they look really nice against the black background....

Special thanks to my hiking partner for the day, Renee.  She's a much more experienced hiker than I am - we used the word "extreme" more than once - and her passion for it is energizing.  Carrying a 40 pound pack for 6+ hours on a strenuous climb to a peak that's over 12,500 in elevation, and then back down, can be quite the chore.  On our way down she reminded me that reaching the summit doesn't count until you get back down again so we high-fived when we finally got back to the parking lot again.

I'm figuring that I need to do these things while I'm in shape to do them.  There's a list of 57 peaks in the Lower 48 states with a prominence of 5,000 feet or more (a list of "The Ultras") and although I know it's a bit late in life to start on something like this I'd like to hike more of the peaks on this list.

As we were sipping refreshing "adult beverages" in Flagstaff afterwards we were talking about the nature of these kinds of hikes.  Part of it is certainly social - these kinds of physically and mentally demanding efforts involve some level of bonding.  But part of it is intensely personal, as well.  Although step by step where you put your feet requires constant attention your mind can't help but wander to deeper waters.  Anyway - it was a very full, wonderful day.   Next up, I think, is a hike down into the Grand Canyon....

I can't help but remember a time when I was concerned about visual "cues" with regards to my transition.  We each give off any number of signs as to whether we're a boy or a girl so in the early days it was a very important consideration.  Hair was a BIG DEAL and had to be just right.  Make-up?  You bet.  Clothes?  Had to be distinctly feminine.  Oh, how far I've come.  While I like to think I clean up well most of the recent photos of me are of me wrestling or hiking or some other activity where there are no cues.  Losing sensitivity to those kinds of things is important in just moving on with life...

Here in the Phoenix area we are looking at some pretty intense heat this week.  The high on Thursday is forecast to be 116, and the low that day will only be 94 (Weather.com says so!).  Rain?  I haven't seen any here in the Valley recently.  Even the local weather forecasters are getting ready for a blast of warmer-than-usual:


I've heard and a read a couple of things in the last couple of days but in an abstract way are related.  Let me share them.

The first is an article that recently appeared in a number of places titled "When Sex Realignment Surgery Goes Wrong".  It details the events surrounding a recent SRS procedure and of the significant complications that have ensued. (She recently posted an update which is equally as important to read).

I'll start by acknowledging that surgery is full of risks.  Even the most minor of surgeries has any number of potential hazards.  A couple of years ago the media was full of people who died during liposuction and the like - minor surgeries that turned tragically bad.  Anyone going under a knife has to be ready to recognize the risks and to accept them.  All any of us can do is to make decisions that minimize them.   That said, however, this particular story is a very sad one.

There are a number of holes in the "safety net" and one of them involves the lack of reporting or any visibility whatsoever to post-surgery complications.  Even more than that, what happens when these things occur?  There is truly an issue with regards to transgender procedures, the lack of broader understanding in people who support our community, and the fact that things like this happen much more than anyone realizes.

As Amy says in her article:
We talk about it a lot, except …when things go wrong. Then—we don’t say much at all. In fact, we won’t talk about it publicly, but it happens. 
We cover it up as if we should be ashamed. We feel damaged. Something odd ensues, much like 40 or 50 years ago. Back then, people spoke in hushed tones, if at all about the family member, colleague, or friend who had certain illnesses. The “C word” was only whispered. 
Many times this lack of openness about such matters led directly to preventable consequences—even deaths. 
We need to talk about healthcare for the trans individual.... 

Back when I had my SRS a decade ago I could count the number of surgeons who I'd actively consider to do my SRS on one hand.  Each of us uses different criteria to choose our surgeon and this is only one girl's opinion.  But I had specific criteria that needed to be met which narrowed the list of candidates to a very short one.

I find it sad that ten years later, when you'd think that others would have learned the necessary skills and would broaden the selection so that there would be more to choose from, my list is actually shorter.  In fact, if I were having SRS today and used those same criteria that I used way back when there is only one active surgeon I'd choose.  Just one.  That's not to say that there aren't others whose work I respect or who I admire.  But when it comes to allowing them to do this particular surgery for me - there's just one.

In her article Amy identifies several obstacles/challenges:
  • Lack of access
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Lack of training
  • Lack of experience
  • Lack of inter-disciplinary collaboration
All are true.

I can think of at least two additional things:
  • First, I can name at least one very well-known surgeon community who is performing procedures that they are not specifically licensed to perform.  How can that be?  It's simple.  People look the other way and allow it to happen unchallenged.  Who is at fault here?  Everyone is.  From the surgeon to the hospital that allows it to happen to the patient who doesn't demand to see and scrutinize credentials - there are fundamental breakdowns and NO accountability.  
  • Then, when there are issues (as there inevitably are) there is NO visibility to post-op issues.  What?  How many? How were they addressed?  

Anyway - there's much more to say on the topic but that's it for me today.  My heart goes out to Amy and others of us who encounter post-op complications.

On another topic, I find it interesting what media "stuff" people get huffy about and what other stuff seems to pass unnoticed or at least without comment.  I remember a Taco Bell ad from a few months ago that got people hopping, but there's currently a Miller Lite series of ads that I haven't heard diddly about.  Here are a couple of them:

Are these offensive?  I'm not offering an opinion - I'm just asking....

And, lastly for today, one of the weekly Freebie songs on iTunes is pretty decent.  At least, I like it.  :~D


Caroline said...

It doesn't help us one bit does it!?

For those of us who lived through the sixties liberation and freedom of expression today's gender expression polarisation seems unbelievable.

Caroline xxx

Melissa said...

Another soulless corporation marketing to the lowest common denominators of society. What else is new? It worked for Jerry Springer, I guess Miller Brewing figured it would work for them too.

Melissa XX

Melissa said...

Oh! And I like the I-tunes freebie too! Nice guitar work.

Melissa XX

Anonymous said...

Hi Donna, I haven't wrote in a long time. I just kind of got away from all the gender issues. I know that when we were first transitioning and for years afterward, we would find the fem ID and go for it. I have stated a few times in recent blogs (not yours) that I have gone full circle. Now, I'm not looking at the fem world just trying to be me. Yes, the "F" will always be there as that is who I am. I do a lot of outside activities and of course heels won't work. I'm never "sir"ed anymore alway miss or maam. I visit the the Home Depot for fixing up my home and I'm always asked if I need help. The point is, I'm not caring about what gender I am.

Dru Marland said...

Like the Miller ads! Nothing like a bit of policing of gender conformity, eh.... echhhh :-)