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'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.


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'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


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.