I’m hooked

Today is graduation day! I’m travelling with my Mum across the country to don the gown and cap and have a bit of celebration :-). Hopfully the rain will stay away and the snow will have totally melted before we get there. I’m really looking forward to seeing my Uni town again, seeing the sea and the mountains, breathing the fresh salt air! Not looking forward to the long drive but we’ll manage it somehow. Will find out my grade today as well which will be good to know finally.

Contemplation

I have been into a series on TV recently called “Ben Fen Fogles Lives in the Wild” which is about individuals or couples who were living “normal” lives in the Western world, or at least trying to, before deciding to pack it all in,  go remote as possible and live in “the wild”. Ben stays with them for a week and discovers their reasoning, what their lives are like, and if it is really as idyllic as it sounds.

I know why the show appeals to me: I have a love for travel, and getting away and being thrown into alien environments and working out how to survive. It’s also interesting to see how the people cope with the isolation or having to interact with the indigenous neighbours who appear from the wilderness around them, how much they are off the grid, if anyone can truely be away from the modern world anymore.

Also it kind tugs me to know that I would have slightly more complex issues than the people in the show if I ever did this myself, as I have a constant need for testosterone, a shot every 3 months. That means as it stands I would have to contact medical facilites every 1/4 year (or be in a location where I could safely store the drug myself at a correct temperature..which seems unlikely). It also means I would have to pay for these drugs, so would not be able to live totally off grid. OR, I could go off testosterone (*gulp*), the voice and (most) beard growth would stay or just slow down, but then have to deal with “female” menstural problems.

Now, I know that such a thing is unlikely, it’s just I suppose it kinda saddens me a little sometimes that there is that extra barrier. I mean, god, i’m finding it hard enough to sort out testosterone for Japan, another modern 1st world country!. Maybe in the future they will be able to invent an implant that slowly releases testosterone over years, negating the need for frequent doctor trips and injections. I have to think of the other side of things though, at least I have been able to transition, if I was living in one of these remote places from the get-go then I never would have been able to be who I am today. Living in the UK has given me the oppurtunity of a life living as who I really am and who I love to be.

Anyway, Christmas build up continues! One thing at a time, let’s let a large brightly dressed man jump down our chimney first and steal some mince pies before deciding what remote jungle outpost I could live in like Tarzan!

3rd surgery

This week I headed off to see my surgeon to discuss top surgery revision. As normal, it was a friendly but rapid appointment. Basically:

  1. Go in room, ask what it is i’m needing/how past surgery went. (2 mins)
  2. Whip off shirt, have a little inspection, talk about where they will cut, etc.  (4 mins)
  3. Shirt back on, surgeon draws a mini picture in notes to remind him what to do. (1 min)
  4. I explain i’m going to live on the other side of the world in less than 4 months, and I get booked in asap – which is late January (2 mins)

Roughly ten minutes after going in, i’m making my way out. The surgeon is normally on time as well, which is nice because it limits the amount of time I have to spend in the waiting room of the breast clinic, where pretty much every patient is female.

OK, so I was hoping to get this done before Christmas, but hey, at least this will be still in time for going away. It’s not like I can demand the surgeon cuts short his Christmas holiday (if this happened it would be interesting to see my chest results – probably stitches spelling “MERRY FRIGGIN CHRISTMAS”), nor can I shunt someone else off the list (im not THAT evil).

surgery pic blog

What’s kind disturbing is how used to surgery I am getting. It’s like i’m developing a routine with it. I know what I will need, what preperation needs to done, aftercare etc. Fingers crossed this is the last one for a while though. It’s under general anaesthetic but a day surgery again, so nothing too big – chop out a bit of areola, suck a tad more out of one side.

Life

Gym membership gone 😦 . Which means more home workouts, long walks and cycling into town a bit etc. Ah well, was good whilst it lasted. I’m not too down about anything at the moment, and despite no anxiety medication now, levels of panic and despair are low!

I have my Japanese exam this weekend in London, which i’m a tad nervous about now. 試験をしんぱいします! I think the Japanese motto of “to do your best” will aid me. I will have a good 3 hours on the train traveling there to get into Japanese only mode.

Testosterone

Still having troubles with getting a solid answer about obtaining Nebido (and Prostap) for/in Japan. My GP is following up another lead though, so again I wait. It’s a strange concept to me, coming from the UK, that many people around the world have to pay stupid amounts of cash for essential medication. When you have a life-long need for medication and you’re having to pay private prices you are talking (tens of) thousands and thousands across a lifetime. I know many countries have health-insurance linked to jobs, but from what I hear they can pick and choose treatments they give you access to, and whats the safety net if you loose your job? Long live the NHS!

 

Hide or seek?

I think I have danced around a line in the past couple years between:

  1. Wanting to be an active member of the transgender community and be out there so people can’t be ignorant about trans people and make up negative judgement’s pulled out of thin air. Also to connect and support other transgender people going through transition or just coming to terms with their identity.
  2. Wanting to fade into the background and live a stealth life, because after all the months and months waiting for changes to occur so I am not misgendered, it can seem conterintuitive to go round letting people know I used to be percieved as female.

A weaker third point is the feeling I get that if I do bring up transgender stuff with friends and family, especially with any regularity, it can seem a little self-centered. Although I also think that is me still getting used to talking about myself and opening up with others after a number of years with heavy social anxiety. These days I try to really interpret conversations with others to find the true meanings or vibes behind them…Is someone getting something off their chest? Are they showing they are sad? Are they looking for affirmation?. 

And I have to remember that as a listener, I like hearing about other people and their stories! So if I wanna make it interesting for others, I need to talk about stuff connected to me, and my story(s). As long as I don’t give a lecture for half an hour a day on the size of my biceps I think it will be OK.

Currently, I think I have one foot on either side of the line. I like this blog, and documenting transition, and chatting to transguys on online forums. However I am in control of who I tell/what I tell to others, especially new people I meet – an 9 times out of 10 I won’t be telling someone I am trans when I first meet them.

Anxiety

I AM OFF ALL ANXIETY MEDICATION!!!!!!! Wooooooooooooooooooooo

I first started taking stuff for anxiety and depression back in 2012, and have never really stopped since. Now, the only thing I take in a morning is a Vit D tablet (due to sunlight constraints of living on a dark, windswept small island in the Northern hemisphere just off the Atlantic Ocean). So far, so good. I still have some in store just incase I notice myself drifting backwards again, but i’m determined for that to not happen. I never really thought about coming off the anxiety meds, I just accepted it was long term. I was never bothered about having to take them, because in the end of day it was helping me. It was more the organisation and cost that became annoying after a while. So if anything it’s a bit like a surprise! (wake up, tab…oh, no tablets!) and coming off was not half as hard as I thought it would be, maybe because I was sensible and slow about it all! (I’m one clever tortoise)

Life

I see the consultant next week regarding a revision to my chest surgery – I really wanna get booked up asap so hoping to come out with some fixed dates. For now, 毎日日本語の勉強しています (everyday I am studying Japanese).

Here’s to hoping you notice the face hair explosion in this months comparison pic!

Comparison Pic: day 28 vs day 672 (week 4 vs week 96)

The next 3/4 months

Tuesday was my last shift at work, and with it come mixed feelings. It’s strange how as soon as I said I was leaving, it was like people took more interest in me,  what I was doing, and stopped to chat. So I went from feeling very at the peripheral of the staff to feeling like I was creeping in on the last week.

Seriously, what is with that? Maybe a lure to try make you stay.. then as soon as you say “yes i’ll stay on“, things go back to “pre-“i am leaving“? I also think the last week was more bearable because I did not have all the huge pressures of nagging customers to buy company products and get contact details etc. If I did not contribute to the stores targets for the last week, no one was going to complain at me next week!

Anyway, now I have to think about priorities in the next few months.

  1. I really really really need to get sorted with testosterone for Japan. It’s a nag at the back my head all the time. I did finally get the letter outlining my appointment at the GIC (gender clinic) – which stated explicitly to allow me to continue being prescribed Nebido whilst I am in Japan for the year. However, I get the feeling my GP is still not going to be comfortable with this. Affordability is the main issue if more of it goes onto private. In fact the Prostap (hormone blocker) is the most expensive injection of the two – if I could stop that, then things become more manageable. Even then we are talking a couple of hundred pounds a vial.  Tbh, i’m starting to creep towards going out with one vial and then just starting to get it out there.
  2. Pass the JLPT5 – a Japanese proficiency test that i’ve been wanting to do for a while, and I will finally take in December
  3. Pass TEFL course – which i’m valiently getting through even though I’m finding that even the “Elementery Level” English stuff is news to me! A week ago I would not have been able to point out to you a “past simple” sentence let alone differentiate it from the “present perfect”
  4. Be steady off my anxiety meds – I am almost off!!!! Only one 50mg tablet to go. Now to stay panic-free for a sustained period. (*Manic laughing…….*)
  5. Have top surgery revision N#2. Ideally before Christmas.
  6. Sell a load of my gear. As much as possible. Gumtree and freecycle will likely be my friends. As is the bin.
  7. Buy a load of gear. Including travel stuff, basic smart clothing, お土産 (omiyage) which are small, normally food gifts, to give to teachers and important people in Japan and souvenirs to show round. Maybe buy a T-Shirt that says in Japanese “If I look lost, please look after me”
  8. Get all my documents in order – be friggin organised. Visas, certificates, licenses, contracts, guides and generic “important docs” become a minefield, with total chaos a real probability if I don’t get all my shit together and tediously filed.

I get the feeling things will move fast after Christmas. Hopfully I will be able to get some small part-time job (12 hrs or less) after I have recovered from surgery to continue to get a bit of money in.

2 years ago, I was in the grips of a big mental health breakdown

A year ago, I was starting a Masters degree,

Now, I’m preparing to move across to the other side of the world to live and work.

Things definitely are moving forward!

 

I’ve handed in my notice

I’ve done it. My letter is in, and I am in the throws of the awkward notice “week” in which I have to come in and work with everyone knowing that I am heading out before Christmas *cringe*. Both the managers I work with were thankfully OK about me quitting (though “disappointed” came up a few times).

I had a few restless nights before quitting, going through what was the “right” thing to do, etc. In the end I came to the conclusion that I would only be staying on for the benefit of other people and the detriment of myself. In terms of a future job seeing that I left my contract early…well I would like to think it’s a company that values someone doing what is best for their career and not staying on in a position they dislike for some kinda show of self-torture endurance.

I now have a glimmer of light — this time next week I will have finished. From now on I need to be extra careful with my cash. I get the feeling it is going to pour through my hands in the coming months.

I have been having more trouble sorting on Testosterone + Prostap for Japan, and still don’t know 100% where I stand. However I do get the feeling I will be paying out of pocket for at least 1-2 sets of medication – at around £500 a pop. Yep, thats right. It’s so much that once I know that 100% i’m going to see whether I can either:

  1. Stop Prostap altogether
  2. Go on a (cheaper) alternative to Prostap

Many people never even start on Prostap (hormone blocker), but the argument I will face is it not being a good idea to change my medication before heading out. Anyway, I don’t see the Doctor for another two weeks, so until then, things are on hold.

Another option is to get Testosterone when I am out there… which, seeming as I just found out my “vague” area I will be staying today, is a possibility. I will be either be in Shizuoka, Shiga or Kyoto, which I am so excited about i’m finding it hard to concentrate!

For now, today is a day off , so I am getting on selling as much as possible, and will nip over to the gym to burn off some restless energy!

1 Year 9 (ish) months on Testosterone

I feel like I have not done a “summary” transition post in a while, so here we go. Part of its for me (records),  part of it is for others starting out transitioning on testosterone to check out what the future could hold (despite it varying wildly from person to person).

  • I am finally feeling happy with the way my facial hair is coming on! For months and months and months it seemed to tease at coming out more, but since being on Nebido progress has stepped up and I now have visable hair on my chin, upper lip and sideburns.
  • I am never misgendered – although most people think i’m roughly 10 years younger than I actually am.
  • My voice has stabilised and I really like it.
  • I have not yet grown to 6ft 5in and morphed into the terminator.
  • If I put in a bit of effort I can build muscle – before it was almost impossible.
  • My hair has receded – I have “devil horns” (very fitting). Sometimes I get anxious about it receding further, sometimes I don’t give a shit.
  • I have dark hair on every part of my body – this is still progressing and I think will get thicker and thicker over the coming years until people start calling the police because they have found the Yeti.
  • Testogel resulted in really stable moods. With Nebido I get a bit tired and emotional during the week before injection. I am hoping this gets less as Nebido builds in my system and I have less big hormone dips.
  • Chest in healing well from revison surgery N#1. Revision surgery N#2 should be to the end of this year. Surgery helped a shed tonne with my confidence.
  • I get hot so much quicker, and sweat so much quicker (and more). I smell more.
  • I have fewer food cravings – in fact I have less general interest in food, however this could be unrelated to testosterone.
  • My mental health has come on leaps and bounds, however this can’t all be attributed to testosterone, lots of others factors in here as well!
  • I am essentially the same person – testosterone does not make “you” disappear, nor does it change your values and/or feelings towards people.

That’s about it. My short term goal is to make it through my shift today without getting desperate enough to find a way to “slip” near the counter, crack my head and go unconscious for a while. My medium term goal is to look like Father Christmas before Christmas Day. My long term goal is to travel to the other side of the planet and start a profession with only instinct and (hopefully) some common sense to guide me.

Work continues to bore the pants off me, I have the weeked off though so will have chance to recover and hit the gym for the first time in ageeeeeeees.

Comparison pic: day 21 vs day  644 (week 3 vs week 92)

Self-injection

For those of you new to my blog, I have been on testosterone for almost 2 years (started on gel). It is normal for nurses to give Nebido (testosterone) and Prostap (hormone blocker for estrogen) injections, at least in the UK. I however, requested to be able to self-inject to allow more flexibility with travelling etc in the future.

This week I injected both Nebido and Prostap at home for the first time!

  1. Nebido – Success!

This involves 2 x needles, 1 x syringe, 1 x vial of Nebido, 1 x sterile wipe, 1 x sharps bin, and a mental technique of ignoring the fact your going to stab yourself with a needle for 2 minutes. Basically, you draw up the Nebido with one needle – slowly. Then get rid of that needle (incase it was blunted / contaminated from vial lid) into sharps bin. Put new needle onto syringe. “Quarter” your arse cheek (mentally or with a pen). Swab the top left corner. Tense then relaxxxxxxx your glutes. STAB!!

Ok, so at this point I had a slight complication. It got only about 1cm in then started to really f***ing hurt. I tried pushing in more but was hitting a block so had to pull out. Blood came out, indicating I had hit blood vessel. So – by this point shaking like a leaf – I stabbed again about 2cm down from the first spot – thankfully this went in fine and I spent the next 2 minutes with the growing ache of 4ml of thick liquid being injected into my muscle. You really have to push hard, its damn tricky to keep your hand steady and push all whilst reaching round your body. Finish injection – pull out, needle cap on, into sharps bin. Cotton bud on injection site & press. Then plaster 🙂

    2. Prostap – hummm

This was a wee bit trickier. You would think not, as its a pre-set up injection. Basically you have to push the plunger on the syringe until it gets to a certain line – at this point the powder and liquid combine, and you tap it a bit to mix them up thoroughly. Now, I read the instructions and took them to heart – it says not to be too vigorous as you may get bubbles (=bad). I only tapped it around a little, then injected. I noticed in the syringe there seemed to be a bit of white powder left – and as the needle came out of my skin some white liquid came out too. I them looked at online videos and most people seem to shake it much more! Lesson learned for next time. Hopfully it will not affect me too much for the next 3 months.

Work

Groan. Improvements? Now working on my own, so I feel I have more flexibility to move stuff around or have a cheeky sit down on the foot stool for a minute or two. Also feet/legs are recovering quicker – although they still ache a lot by the end of shift. Unchanged is the sheer bordem, the relentless repetitive music, the bright lights, dust that makes my eyes turn red, the tacky heat of the stock room and the underlying anxiety of trying not to need the loo making me need the loo.

I have also noticed a subtle shift in the way management approach me now. We have a new bunch of newbies – so I am no longer classed as one. This means I am expected to know what i’m doing, where everything goes, and all the infomation required. Hahahahahahaaa. They are no longer so blasé about me not meeting targets and don’t spend as long going through stuff with me. In the past I would have felt like this is all my fault and I should be on top of everything – HOWEVER – now, I just acknowledge this as a flaw in their training and management style. Im working Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon, Tues before my next day break – think i’m going to need to start injecting myself with caffeine.

Life

I can exercise now, so I am cycling to work, back into sit-ups, squats, weights etc. It’s giving me a much needed mental boost. Anxiety meds are on the decrease again, but I seem to be doing fine with that. For now, it’s my day off, so going to do a bunch of Japanese learning, have a nice lunch out with my Mum, and sleep/chill.

Signing off with a random joke I saw on twitter  which got me chuckling:

“A man decided to visit a zoo and was disappointed to find there was only one animal there. It was a dog. —— It was a shih tzu”