Switching methods

For the first time, in over 450 days, I did not take my daily Testogel ration 😮 !!!

I forgot to take the sachets back to my parents house over the weekend and thus spent 3 days gel free, which felt — not right. Like I was missing something important. Like I had started the day leaving my ear on the bed. So close to perfect record as well, if I had just lasted another 6 weeks before I stop them anyway, I could have said I NEVER missed a dose! Anyway…

I am now officially on Nebido. Since 02nd May 2017. And no, I did not get taught to self inject. Let’s whiz through the story…

Me to Nurse (2016): I think the GIC is saying I can self-inject Nebido

Nurse (2016): Hum, doubt that, if its one in your bum

Me to GIC (2017):Can I self-inject Nebido? My nurse seemed unsure it is OK…

GIC (2017):Sureee, yeh a few guys going to the clinic do it, i’ll just write on your notes that its OK and to procede. It’s a big one but diabetics do similar often enough

Me to GP: GIC says I can self-inject, can that be sorted out?

GP:Yes I don’t see why not, i’ll get it all booked for you

Me to Nurse (May 2017): So, am I self-injecting today?

Nurse (May 2017):  No, we do not have any protocol to do that, and can’t get in touch with the GIC to ask how we can go forward or teach you how to do it

*Major sigh*

So basically I have to wait 3 months until next time now when hopfully it will be sorted out. So the nurse did the injection, she:

  • Talked about it being thick and hard to get in, needing force
  • Said it’s best to warm in hands for a few minutes first
  • Said I could stand or lay down, laying down better for relaxing the bum
  • Said about it being injecting into upper quater of bum
  • Explained about drawing it out, changing needle, expelling air, and injecting
  • Then injected it in like 5 seconds straight (I kid you not)

I had said to her that I had heard other people talking about how it needed a good 40 seconds odd to go it, so that the oil did not damage the tissue. She whamed it in however. I noticed on my boxers afterwards that there was blood and a bit of fluid, so some came out, I just hope it was not much. I did not feel pain at the time, but it still aches now more than 24 hrs later. I am definitely going to tell her to slow it down next time – wait. hopefully I will be injecting the next one! She also injected the Prostap (blocker) which hopefully I will self-inject next time too!

Note, I did not go mad in that situation, I just said “OK, fine, let’s get on with it” and just moved on. You gotta pick your battles right? I have enough on my plate at the moment without chasing up and complaining about that. You get used to things not going to plan when your transitioning via NHS in the UK! At least T is in my system. So I continue to take testogel for 6 weeks (as soon as I got home I shoved on a packet of gel even though it was evening) then leave it 2 weeks and get a blood test.

Anxiety is building. I’m feeling a bit despondent about my dissertation. I can’t seem to get in the right frame of mind to start it. I am however, accessing all the channels I can. I have an appointment booked with my personal tutor, trying to get one with study mentor, and arranging one with supervisor. I think I just need to start putting pen to paper regularly, my supervisor seems to want me to take charge and not give much guidence, so maybe thats just what I have to get used to. Just take a stab at it and hope it all works out. Also started job applying/hunting. Oh, and volunteering starts this morning…..Arghhhhhhh

I’ll note each week if I get any strange side effects from the change over to Nebido. So far i’ve just felt tired and achey, but that could be down to the lack of gel for two days and a 9 mile walk the other day. Oh, and on a side note, I might just have brought some Minoxidil 😀

Comparison pic: day 1 vs day 469 (week 0 vs week 67) roughly 1 year 4 months – just started Nebido.

Neck hair

Oh yes, the neck hair is mounting it’s attack! I was just washing my hands looking into the mirror when my eyes popped out their sockets a bit –  I spotted long, fair, thin threads poking out my neck! Like they had just sprung up over night! Either that or you can only spot them in an upstairs bathroom, on a Thursday, whilst slightly stooped over washing hands, leaning neck to the right slighty, stood in the suns rays coming through the window at a 70 degree angle. Regardless, they are there. Which is cool cause I was starting to think whether I should try slapping on a bit of Minoxidil (can make your hair grow on your face, but mysteriously not on your head, where all it can do is help stop it dropping off)

I am getting prepared for my first Nebido shot next week, it seems to have come around fast. I have heard good and bad things about this form of preperation of testosterone. One thing some people say is that transfering from testogel to nebido can cause some of the more intense side-effects rear up again, things like mood-swings, hot flushes, acne and sweats. So i’m prepared for that (as much as you can be). I think the whole idea of staying on slowly decreasing levels of testogel whilst on the loading phase of nebido is a good thing. So i don’t drop off the scale whilst Nebido gets settled in.

Learning to self-inject is going to be a fun situation. Not only am I going to squeezing 3 months worth of Nebido into my backside, I am also going to be shooting up with 3 months worth of Prostap (blocker) – also learning to self inject in my arm. My awesome GP has sorted out the whole thing, so it will be a nurse who knows what they are talking about, not one who wants me to push the thick Nebido solution into my left calf in about 5 seconds or something like that. So i’ve heard Nebido can hurt. Like a bruise? or something. Well, I have to take a 5 hour, 3 change train journey back straight after the jabs (yep, I am travelling back to home county for these jabs) with all my luggage to haul around, then a 25 min walk across town to my house. Ahh to be trans.

Top surgery talk

I’m starting to get more sensation in the left side of my chest. I can feel my nipple, and around it, although the feel is..strange. Like touching it over a barrier of thick bubble wrapping paper. Right side has less feeling. Healing is going well, and currently the scars round the areola seem quite thin, although I know that can change as months go by. The skin is very slowly tauntening (is that a word?) up. It’s been 4 and a bit months, so in the grand scale of things its not been long. I get the feeling my meeting with the top surgeon in June re: revisions will come round very fast.

Life

I have shirts now for my suit, all I need is to start finding excuses to wear it! Things are pretty slow at Uni currently. My CPN wants to meet more regulaly to start tackling my anxiety more head on, actually going out and doing stuff etc. Bit unnerved by it, but I know it will be a good think. I think the practical stuff works the best when it comes to battling back anxiety. No number of booklets and talking therapy can make up for going out putting yourself in the gut-wrenching situations again and again until you become numb to them and just relax. The problem is having the mental energy to put yourself through that without breaking down. Let’s hope my energy stays OK.

Comparison Pic: Day 35 vs day 462 (week 5 vs week 66 )

 

 

Suits

Hope everyone had a good Easter break. Mine was good, I got a suit!! :-D. Considering this was something that I had never done before (going suit shopping) it was really quite easy. I was at my parents for the weekend so they came with me, providing me with a steady stream of different items to try on.

I found that suits are measured by chest size, i’m a 38″ from what I recall, and then there are short, medium and long sizes…i was short or medium most the time. Then different styles, like tailored cut, slim fit, skinny, classic etc. I had to stay away from skim fits because I have chunky thighs and sqeezing them in to the trousers was like trying to wedge a chicken thigh into a smarties packet.

Then shirts – which I can not fathom for the life of me why they go by neck size. Maybe there is a good correlation between neck thickness and torso size? I dunno, but I had to destroy a few packets of perfectly folded and packaged M&S shirts before I found the right one (15″ I think). Bits of cardboard and plastic and clips jumped around the changing room all for one shirt and it took all the changing room assistent’s self-restraint not to break down and cry or throttle me.

An then of course the lovely waitcoats….ah the waitcoats. Not included in the price of the suit, this extra item which is only a small bit of fabric costs as much if not more than much bigger items (this brings to mind womans lingerie, the tinyer, the more expensive). So of course, I had to get this.

And repeat this process at 6 stores.

In the end I headed back to the original store (M&S wins as it often does) and knocked a dent in my bank account but came out extremely happy. I still need a shirt and shoes, the shirts in M&S were a bit too expensive in the end. And I got a tie from TKMaX – which my mum had to show me how to knot again because it’s been so long that I had forgotten completely (flash backs to being 7).

Throughout all of this I got “Sir/Mate/pal/buddy” all the time…more “Sir” than I am used to because they seem to train the assistants to be all formal in the suit department. I did not feel awkward at all or have trouble with the male changing rooms. I’ve noticed recently as well that I walk into crowded male public toliets in train stations etc without thinking about it. If all the cubicles are busy, I just walk out again, no biggie. It’s a stage I never believed I would get to, and it’s really helping with my confidence and how I feel presenting myself and even where I let myself go to.

Somethings are taking more time, like I still have some female underwear tucked away “just in case” a monthly episode comes back, even though I have not had one in over a year. On that note I was searching through my pockets of an old summer coat on the train the other day and pulled out a monthly pad in front of a few people. I think my eyes almost bulged out my head as I thrust it back in. But yeh, some things take time and i’m learning to just get on and let it all happen at the pace it happens.

Relatives noticed chin/’tashe hair at the weekend, it got pretty long! I’ve trimmed it back again now so I’m not looking like a billy goat. Looking foward to getting my first shot instead of injections. I think gel is slowly stopping to be as effective on me – too much body hair! Literally I am still sprouting it as fast as I was only a couple of months in. It’s relentless.

Back at Uni town now, and my CPN’s challenge for me this week – go to the cinema alone – will I manage it?? :-/

Comparison Pic: day 28 vs day 455 (week 4 vs week 65)

 

Should I have a more active role in the trans community?

This question comes into my mind quite often. I feel strongly that transgendered individuals need more support, there needs to be more networking to build these support networks, especially for transmen who tend to be under-represented in trans groups, and that the wider general public need help to understand what it means to be transgender. So I feel strongly…but what am I doing about it?

I write this blog, which never really started to be about my transition journey, but now it’s the main focus 80% of the time. It reaches a few people, not many, but some. But I feel like I could do more.

With one of my old CPN’s I talked about starting a trans-group. And actually, regardless of how terrifing that would be, I was actually interested. The trouble is I move home so damn often. I don’t have a core base, a solid permenent patch that I can call my home town where I can establish and build up a group. Maybe in the future, but not now, and not for a while until I get a job sorted.

What else is there I can do? Well i’m not a “speech” type person, and I am not in any random groups where I can be open about being trans and try educate a bit. I know that I don’t really need to be proactive about it, its just when your part of a pretty small community and you see and hear things that other members are going through, it makes you feel you want to stand up and fight for “your” community. It’s fustrating seeing the same patterns of problems again and again and seeing despite some amazing representatives and volunteers it’s still not enough to tackle everything.

This week has been slow, i’m working on and off, and relaxing a bit inbetween. I’m been doing loads of Japanese studying which has been keeping me happy. My 2 year “coming out” day passed quietly, had a beer and pizza and watched a movie. Starting to casually look at job openings and schemes etc, just getting myself in the frame of mind. I want to buy a suit this weekend in the Easter sales. My first suit!. It’s something I have wanted to do since coming out as transgender, and wanted to wait till after top surgery. I want to find the right one though, one that makes me feel f***ing awesome :-D.

Comparison Pic: day 14 vs day 448 (week 2 vs week 64)

2 years open about being transgender!

Volunteering

I’m (hopfully) going to be starting to volunteer with kids soon, which meant the dreaded DBS check. Basically a check to make sure your not going to run off with the kids, whack them, teach them how to carry out a burglery etc. It’s pretty fast..IF..IF you have not moved house several times in the past five years. The guy at the SU (student union) was helping fill out the form and he looked ready to collapse when I showed him the list of addresses. There was seven in the end. It took him a good 20 minutes double checking all the dates and postcodes etc.

Added on to that I had had to call the DBS service and set up a special case that basically just means that I can choose if I want to tell people I am transgender, rather than them finding out because it is printed all over the form with my old name for them all to see. Getting to start volunteering is hard these days! I’m pretty damn excited though, as i’ve never worked with kids before. Going to have to wait 2/3 weeks for the forms to come back now.

Transitiony stuff

Good news this week, my “telephone pole” i.e. an areola stitch that was poking out for about a week, finally came out! Pretty random that it appeared almost 4 months after surgery. It was like a transparent plastic fishing reel material. Maybe new ones will pop out?  Also I am getting more sensation in my nipples and the surrounding area. It’s patchy and sometimes a bit “jolty” but it’s a development. I’ve been swimming a couple more times, and still finding it hard to get the courage to go out there with my trunks on, but im doing it. I just feel like a stage light it following me the whole distance to the pool edge.

Oh, also, I am noticing fluffy hair growing on my cheeks! I think it’s jumping ship from my head hair and sailing down to my cheeks.

Life

Mentally I had a downer this week, just for one day/evening really. I just suddenly lost it, let go of the rope I was clinging to and seemed to be freefalling down into a dark hole. It was really shitty and apathy just took hold, about anything and everything. Thankfully I have been doing better and it must have just been a short sharp dip. Strange how that kinda think takes hold, just seems to come out nowhere like a sudden wind change.

Ending on a high…. this Friday 7th marks my “2 year “coming out” day“!!! When I first told anyone (my parents) that I was transgender :-). Can’t believe it – how much has changed since then! I thank my two-year-ago-me for being brave enough to actually say what was on my mind and be open about who I was/am. From Friday I can officially apply for a GRC – a Gender Recognition Certificate to change my gender on my birth certificate too. But I will talk more about that in another blog.  I have no one to celebrate with on Friday but I will be having a beer or two and a nice takeaway, and celebrating with people next week.

Comparison Pic: Day 7 vs day 441 (week 1 vs week 63)

Top Surgery chat

It’s now 15 weeks since I had top surgery. Almost 4 months. No regrets about it at all. This is just a small blog chatting about what I thought of it, my tips and general stuff really.

It’s hard to picture in your head pre-top surgery how you will look afterwards, how it will feel, etc. I used to look down at what I had and just try shift it and pretend it was not there, or squish it down thinking “maybe this is how it would be?”, “would I like this?” “will I miss these?”. And you can never know 100%, cause let’s face it, nothing is 100%. Which is also why it’s silly when people want you to say “yes this is what I will want permanently for the rest of my life”. Who an earth knows that about anything? It’s more a long term feeling that this is who you are.

Pre-op

Building up to it the procedure grows in significance and seriousness. You really have to be head strong and know what I mentioned above. But the process is managable, and to any transmen or non-binary people thinking about it, I would say don’t be put off by it seeming too scary or big to handle. Take your time thinking what type of top surgery you want and ask yourself the difficult questions direct “can I cope with scars across my chest?” “can I cope with a drawstring look?” (both of course will fade to an extent), “is it impossible for me to think about loosing nipple sensation?”, or simply “is this the right time in my life to do this? Should I wait?”.

I found the pre-op process on the NHS really good, pretty speedy, and staff were aware of and sensitive to trans stuff. Compared to waiting to go on testosterone this was a breeze.

During

Get swept up in the process and let yourself go to the flow. I found being busy with doing stuff, signing things, dressing in stuff and answering questions helped to stop anxiety building too much. I have not heard of anyone who has gone the NHS route and not had a private room with ensuite. Found it quite surreal how many people are all concentrating on YOU before/during surgery. It’s strange, even if you know your just another person on the conveyor belt! I had that last moment i’m sure loads of transguys/NB people have just before, looking and feeling moobs one last time and trying to let your body know whats going to happen. Although of course your body is all chill and thinking, “eh? nothing is happening now, i’m fine, loosing body part?? haha, right”. Decision has been made, now all the hard work is down to the surgeon (that amazing being).

Post op

Healing is a long process, and as it goes on and the excitment wears off, you can become bored and fustrated with it. It feels like a never ending repeat of  “just a little bit longer until I can…”. Results can looks raw and lines everywhere and stitches and it’s not what you want to see. And at 4 weeks its not, and at 8 weeks its not, and at 12… and you might have to face the fact you need revisions, or to live with your new chest not quite how you envisaged it.

But eventually you should see improvements (most likely the older you are the slower this is) and things start looking up. And then you have to build a new relationship with your chest (the stage I am at now). It feels natual and great, yet still hard to remember that its flat now.

  • I have to remind myself I can stand up straight now without risking moobs showing.
  • All my T-shirts and tops are high neck, so its going to take a while to slowly buy in some new gear that is not gripping my neck.
  • Swimming will take a while to get comfortable with.
  • I still feel scared to brush hard against my nipples, just generally or washing etc. because I feel like they might rip off – again, time.

I have learnt to let go and not worry about the pace of healing. It just is what it is, i’m content with that.

Life

Handed in my assignment! So having a few days respite before tackling next module and dissertation. At my parents place for a few days, nice to get away from the tension of my house share. Had one of my wisdom teeth out yesterday, was damn quick. Literally booked an emergency appointment (it hurt) at the dentist, went in, and came out 20 mins later minus a tooth. Just had to put up with the dentist cranking at my tooth like he was trying to change a flat tyre. No transition news this week. See you in April 🙂

Comparison Pic: Day 28 vs day 434 (week 4 vs week 62)

I went swimming!!!

Earlier this week I made a pact with myself. ‘You will go swimming at some point this week‘. So on Wednesday morning I dutifully set off with my brand new, never worn before trunks (expect for modelling in my room and trying to get used to the feeling of being topless) and new goggles to the local pool. It’s been about a year and half since I last set foot in a pool. I used to love it.

Nerves were high. A good point about this pool though is it has individual changing cubicles – no open areas to change. So I paid and went and stood in one of those and breathed. And breathed. And changed into my trunks, turned round to open the locker door and … froze. My biggest anxiety point was my chest. It is still slowly healing, with the “pinched” look around the areolas, my nipples are also quite big, and the skin is a bit slack as it re-attaches itself. I dithered for a bit then just had a “F*** it” moment and opened the door, shoved my stuff in locker and went out to the pool area.

Oh my god.

There were tonnes of people. I overheard the lifeguard saying it was unusually busy. Thus far I had been covering my chest by pretending to reach up and clean/wipe my goggles for about a minute and I knew I could not do that much longer. I had an obstacle course of trying to get round 2/3 older people then jump in a lane – but which lane? They all had people loitering at the end. I panicked. I fast walked back to the cubicle, locked the door, and just stood there again, teetering on the edge of going back home. I knew though, that if I did not go in at that point I would not go in for ages later, and I really need swimming to give my knees a break from the gym.

So I (pretend) calmly walked back out, still “cleaning” them damn goggles. I kept my eyes on a target lane, the closest one, and just walked not looking around and jumped in. I was then high fiving myself in my head and jumping around in circles whilst on the outside looking “serious and focussed”.

After that the actual swimming was great. I noticed a tug on my chest every time I pushed off so I did not do that too hard, and my swimming stamina is shocking compared to what it used to be but I enjoyed just doing lap after lap. It was coming out that I was anxious about. I bobbed across all the lanes till closest to exit then kinda shot out. I was so happy with myself I even tackled the communal shower. I got my shower gel and just went in and faced the wall whilst showering. So now swimming is on the agenda each week 🙂 . I might not have a “bulge” and I might not have your average male chest but this should not, and from this week, does not, stop me swimming!

GIC Appointment

I saw the GIC last week, which was a trek and a half, with 7am till 6pm travelling with just 1 hour of appointment in the middle. I missed having the nice sausage or egg or bacon sandwich I normally get when I’m there, I just did not have time to sit down and relax!

Start of appointment was strange:

Consultant: “So you have been referred to have top surgery”

Me: “Erm… I have HAD top surgery.. over 3 months ago”

Consultant: “Oh.. that was fast! We are slow at writing up the notes currently”

I basically had to update him about it all which I thought was a bit poor really considering the GIC are the main point of call about my trans care.

The appointment went OK, I am now going to be starting Nebido in May when I have my next blocker injection. I asked if Nebido made you bald quicker, and he said no, it was all hearsay, and no evidence to show it at all. He said at least in this clinic the rumour might come from the fact that everyone starts on gel, normally for at least a year or two. Then for convenience they switch to injections. Then there hair is receding more, but that probably would have happened if they had stayed on gel, because at 2-3 years that just happens to be a natural time for the hair to start receding anyway (if it is going to).

He then gave me a warning that I should never get complacent about Nebido levels, as they often creep up over time if your not careful. Then some complicated talk about levels and working out figures between peaks and troughs etc. I stay on gel for 6 weeks after taking my first injection. He also said I can learn to self-inject if I want, he said there was no problem with that. Over all I am happy that I am switching. I just hope I take to Nebido OK and I can get relativly stable on it.

Comparison Pic: Day 14 vs day 427 (week 2 vs week 61)