Time for a monthly update!
July was a busy month, with one week spent bedridden with cold and a few other events peppered throughout. I don’t want this to turn into too huge of a post, so I’ll just run down three noteworthy things that let me chat a bit about how I’m doing.
But first, I wanted to mention I’ve swapped out my WordPress avatar for a picture of me. Yes, Wonder Woman, who has been my avatar since December 2014 at the birth of my original blog, is gone. I’ve reached a place where, thanks to transition, I actually feel okay sharing how I look in a more public capacity. So speaking of photos…
Bye, Bye, Beardy
I saw some old pictures of myself on my partner’s iPad recently, just little everyday snaps she’d taken of us over the last 3 years. They were never intended to be shown off or uploaded anywhere, so they’re very candid. Looking at them is strange. I can see that it’s clearly me in each photo, but I look wrong.
I see pictures of me at the local Pride event in my hometown last year and my gut reaction is to think that… well, I don’t look good. My brain tells me that if I saw that same appearance in the mirror today I’d think “Yikes”.
Yet it’s very subtle. I don’t even think it’s about seeing my face looking longer and more angular than it does now, it’s also the eyes. I look tired and sad. Which I was. I think I have a bit more life in my eyes now when I see photos. That’s one effect of transition I’m very grateful for, one that’s a side-effect of doing better mentally.
On the physical level, one thing that I think affects those older photos is facial hair shadow. When I was ill recently, I let my facial hair grow out over 3 days. Because when you’re bedridden, shaving feels awfully pointless. I don’t think the TV cares how I look, as I sit there binge-watching How To Get Away With Murder (highly recommended, by the way).
I was amazed by the result. Absolutely stunned. I basically ended up with a spiky little thin moustache and a few tiny patches of dark hair on my neck and jaw, otherwise there’s just soft light hair you can’t even see (something for electrolysis to deal with, eventually). Most of the dark hair on my jawline and cheeks is already gone, which is good as that’s the majority of my facial hair. When I mentioned to my partner I hadn’t been shaving at all, she thought I was joking.
I’ve never had much facial hair so I suppose laser is going faster than expected. But it’s annoying that my damn upper lip is still so packed with hairs. I’m hoping it’ll help my face look more feminine once it’s gone, which will be around the end of the year at my current monthly rate, as then I won’t have the dark pale shadow to worry about. My makeup routine on a morning only takes 10 minutes, I’m sure I could cover it more resiliently and achieve a more lasting cover-up if I put the effort in. Which would mean I wouldn’t have to throw on more powder after lunch, but I just don’t have the energy for that honestly. It’s annoying, but I figure everyone I meet can see that I’m trans anyway, so it’s not like ensuring its absolute all-day invisibility is vital. I’m not going to meticulously cover it just so I can look better for some strangers on the bus at the end of the day.
I stand by my original assessment that laser is painful but manageable. The worst of it makes my eyes water and I end up gritting my teeth, but I get through it. It’s worth it. I’ve had 3 full sessions so far, number 4 is coming up in 2 weeks.
Pride!…(On a budget)
My original plan at the start of the year was to attend Trans Pride, which takes place in sunny (and expensive) Brighton, by staying over for the weekend. It turns out there was a problem with that plan: doing so costs money. I do not have money. I am painfully poor.
So instead, the new plan was just to pop over for the Saturday, with the more manageable cost simply being the 2-3 hour journey along the coast and back.
It was pretty great and I’m definitely glad I went, for me it was basically a warm day out in a little park surrounded by awesome people.
The best part was seeing friends from Twitter. A highlight being able to hang around with fellow WordPress blogger Unexpected Amy, who I originally met here on WordPress well over a year ago. It’s great to think that our friendship started in comment threads here, when we were both contemplating transition. Swapping comments between her blog and my old one then led to chatting for hours and hours on other platforms as the months ticked by. Now we’ve finally met in person, with us both well into our own transitions… it’s nice. I’m happy for her having come so far and I’m also proud of myself too.
If anyone is considering coming next year then I highly recommend it, it was a lovely atmosphere. Next year I’ll try get there for the weekend and make the most of it.
Speaking of weekends away, I am going to be at Nine Worlds in London this year, which is the closest I’ll get to any sort of holiday. I’ve had this planned since I had an amazing time last year, my first year attending the convention. Give me a shout if you’re going to be there and consider coming to watch one of the panels I’ll be involved in! Here’s a handy link to my profile on the website for more information: Handy Link.
Out For Blood
On an entirely unrelated note, my GP isn’t comfortable prescribing hormones to me until I’m on the GIC pathway. Although inconvenient, it’s understandable. So until that time I still rely on a private doctor for my prescription as well as monitoring my levels. However, my GP is more than happy to perform blood tests for me so I can keep an eye on my levels myself and pass them over to my private doctor. So far this has worked out fine, but trying to get my blood tested recently did not go as planned, to put it lightly.
I won’t bore you all with the details, but basically I left a window of just over 2 weeks, to have my blood tested and then get the results, before I needed to have them. I figured that was plenty of time, considering in the past I’ve had the results within 3 days.
The first issue arose as there was no nurse available in that time frame. No problem, I can just head to the hospital for a drop-in appointment, I thought.
So one morning I went over to the nearby hospital. Found the pathology department and went to wait my turn. It’s at this point that I realised I should have ideally brought something to read because the queue was so long you’d think we were lining up for Hamilton* tickets.
Anyway, I had my blood tested at last, went back to work, and forgot about it. I then got a phone call a few days later saying there’d been a “lab error” and I had to go back. I don’t know what lab error means, but it’s vague nature did conjure up images of staff playing ping pong with my blood vials or perhaps misadventures in juggling.
I said to the receptionist I was happy to pop back to the hospital, she told me they had an opening for a blood test appointment at the GP surgery in a couple of days anyway. I figured this was a better choice as it would still leave a full week before I needed the results and would save me the longer trip to the hospital, therefore meaning I can get back to work faster. What could go wrong? Well…
After attending the appointment, which itself was delayed as the staff struggled to find me on their system, I went to get my results a few days later. I was told they’d only tested 1 of the 4 things they needed to, no hormone levels, so I’d need another test. This was days before my private appointment, a tiny window to get tested again and get my results back.
So the next morning I rung the hospital to confirm they hadn’t tested my hormone levels, I wanted to be certain before I rushed back there. After being bounced around I finally got through to the lab. They said they’d sent my other vial to a different hospital. I do not know why. They explained my hormone test was listed as outstanding, it was still due to arrive, despite being late already. So I waited, again.
The day before my appointment my results still weren’t back. The morning of my appointment, there was still nothing. I debated canceling my appointment, but since I had already booked the day off (and didn’t feel like paying the cancelation fee) I decided to just go anyway.
On the chance my results had slipped in last minute, I phoned my GP 10 minutes before my private appointment, as I stood outside in the street… hallelujah! My results were in, better yet my levels were really good. Exactly where I wanted them to be.
So I had my appointment, which went well, and got a prescription for 6 more months worth of HRT goodness.
…I think next time I’ll get my blood test results before I book the appointment. Lesson learnt.
What a Difference 180 days make…
Speaking of 6 months, I’ve just passed half a year on hormones. I think I’ll save thoughts on that for another blog post, but 6 months on I’m very happy with my decision to start them.
In one sense it’s the easiest thing I’ve ever done, in theory I just let them do their thing and get on with my life. In actuality it has been a bit more complicated than that, with dramatic mood swings, worrying about hormone levels, struggling with money for appointments etc. etc… so thankfully, it looks like the hard part might be over. The next 6 months should be easier. Probably. I hope. At least on the HRT side of things anyway.
I think that’ll do it for this post, I know it’s a little dry but I’ve found myself writing lots of heavy stuff lately, essentially essays triggered by a lot of frustrations of what’s going on recently. Writing has always been my way of working through my thoughts and emotions, so with a lot on my mind I’ve been writing away as ever. These outbursts are all confined to my drafts folder for now, as I decide whether to polish them up or just let them go. Meanwhile writing this post, something so casual and simple, has been a nice break by comparison.
So thank you for checking in and giving me someone to ramble away to. I’ll pop another update up when I have something to share.
*I’ve been meaning to listen to Hamilton for a while, but I was trying to hold out until I could see it in some form. Since nothing seems to be happening on that front any time soon, I checked to see if it was on Spotify and was delighted that it was. So I listened to it. It’s so, so, so good! I adore it. I’m not surprised it’s consistently sold out in the US, it’s the first stage show I really want to see for myself ASAP.