Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Heat is On

Greetings from Hanoi!

It's been an eventful week and a bit to say the least. The common denominator in all of this has been heat. I say this because before leaving London I felt stressed and really p*ssed off with the PCT. 

The day before I left I had no letter from them regarding their decision on my funding for Top Surgery, so I called them.  From being told they would write to me, I was now informed that they would be writing to my Doctor and then she would either call or write to me and this could take up to two weeks or up to a month.  That was irritating enough without what followed.  The person on the phone told me that she could see on the computer that a decision had been made.  I asked if she could tell me and she said that it wasn't policy and that I would have to find out from my GP.  This was after she had asked me for my NHS number, date of birth, address and other personal details.

I respect that there are policies in place, but at the same time I want to know why I am told that I would be written to from them regarding the decision and then suddenly a change occurred within that. I did challenge, politely that I had been told that I would be informed from them but she was very adamant that they inform the GP who then informs the patient.

I get that.

I was irritated (and still am) that she knew of my result and seemed to be getting a kick out of being able to enjoy her little piece of power. I wouldn't have left someone dangling like that nor inform them that I knew but wasn't going to tell them.  A much better approach would have been to just say that once a decision is made the GP will be written to and then the patient would be informed.

I forgot to add that once she had attained that the decision had been made, she muted me whilst she discussed it with a colleague. So that too irked me knowing that two people knew yet I couldn't be told.

On that note I was pleased to get off the phone, curse a little and finish packing to go to Vietnam.  She may have had a bit of power but at least she could sit and rot at her desk for the following 2 weeks as far I was concerned.

She also didn't give her name, which again with hindsight I should have taken from her so that I can make a complaint or find out who is higher up at the PCT.  People I know that have had dealings with them have had to speak to upper tiers of management, so when I return if there has been no word or progress I might do that as I have quite a tight timetable for June.

On the 20th I have an appointment with Dr Lorimer at Charing Cross, then on the 22nd I have an appointment with my Surgeon's nurse in Brighton where she will discuss the operation with me and if a PCT decision is finalised by then I can then discuss workable dates with Dr Yelland.

I've also got loads of work on with my other company to plough through and other bits and pieces happening.

It's all go, go, go! But I am determined to make my surgery happen.  I'm so close I can almost taste it and from being in Vietnam, this surgery is necessary.

When we booked we thought it would be high 20s and early 30s in terms of temperature, but most of the South of Vietnam which we started off in has been in the 40's! Which has been almost unbearable at moments when having to wear 2 binders, as they at the best of times are like wearing a thermal vest, but couple that with this heat and it is like experiencing heaven and hell all at the same time.

Yesterday when in Hue, I sweated so much that my stomach was tricking sweat out of my belly button and down my pants that it felt like I was wetting myself.

I hope the scales upon my return are kind because I feel like I have sweated out at least a few pounds in body weight.

Feeling too hot and too sweaty all the time is really uncomfortable after a few days.  Still I do put things in perspective.

This is a beautiful place that I am thoroughly enjoying being in.  In the run up to here I worked very hard to be able to come here, it's also given me lots of time to think and positively reflect on a few things happening in life and helped me to resolve a few matters of the heart and soul to some degree too.

It's also confirmed to me that I really do have no relationship with the breasts that grew on my chest.  They can go in the bin as far I am concerned once they are removed.  I should have never been born with them and I can't wait to experience a world where I don't have to hide underneath a binder.

I have an old binder I wear under a rash vest so I can swim without people knowing I have breasts which is liberating but there is a side of me that feels that I am still having to hide and feel uncomfortable so that no one knows and I don't freak out making myself feeling more dysmorphic than I already do.

When September comes I would have been binding for 3 years.  That is a long time.  I am reaching the stage where I actually can't bear it every day, having to make sure I have aligned myself correctly and not squidged one breast too far from the other so that I end up with a wonky looking chest or a strange monoboob.

Sometimes my binder slips and then I notice cleavage and I feel like a failure and sometimes a fraud.  I also end up feeling revolting and just want to hide when that happens.

I remind myself that I am not a freak but sometimes it's hard not to feel that way.  Especially when the rest of the time I console myself with what I am doing, that it's right and that I can adjust to a new life but the reminder of being born with incorrect body parts just makes me feel trapped.

I know that some people (no matter how liberal they may appear) have their own judgements and reservations and even assumptions as to how trans people live or should live. Because for some they don't understand and some feel uncomfortable about it all, and that is fair enough. I just wish sometimes that some people weren't so faux positive when that isn't really representative as to how they feel.

The crux of the matter is that a trans person tried to adjust and make changes in his or her life so that they can be as representative to the person that they should have been born as in the first place.  In some ways it's like literally being born again.

Choosing a new name, identity, altering ones appearance and becoming closer to what you've always felt inside yet weren't born that way isn't easy. But its part of a journey that some people choose to take and have to take in order to feel that they are alive.

I say this because in what feels like a previous life I wasn't happy at all. There was potential but I felt I spent a lot of my life living a lie.

I despise dishonesty and I don't want to feel I was lying to myself or the people around me.  The only expectation my Mum ever placed on me was to be the person I felt I was. As well as to make her cups of tea on demand even if she forgets about them and leaves a trail of cups wherever she goes...but then she does have the dirty nappy all mothers use!

The main thing I feel now is determination to make more changes happen and to do so from knowing without any shadow of a doubt about anything.

Being here has allowed me to recharge my batteries and seeing all of the amazing sights around me and sampling a different world and culture has given me back some much needed fire that I had run out of.

I have dreamt of coming to Vietnam since I was a teenager but am pleased that I was able to make this happen.

I was determined that before I was 30 I would travel to lots of places and not just because I wanted to be gay, fabulous and cultured...but there is an element of that too if I am honest.

I grew up not having holidays every year like a lot of my friends did. Because my Mum had to struggle for a lot of my childhood and I don't forget the many Christmasses that she had to do loads of shitty jobs so that I could have a present. 

We didn't have a supportive family nor did she have many opportunities growing up either. When she met my Step Dad things did change, and I will always be grateful to him for a lot of things too as without him, I wouldn't have got my education nor many of the other opportunities afforded to me.

It is sad that they aren't together anymore, but at the same time I know I can maintain a relationship with them both and at the same time not forget all the good times and things that have happened from that union.

I also have discovered that I am in fact in love with a country.  Vietnam has definitely stolen my heart and I can't wait to return here and explore more of the rural areas. Particularly Sapa and the Surrounding areas and the Central Highlands. Ho Chi Minh City is scooter tastic (and turns crossing the road into an extreme sport) and the city as a whole can make one feel like it's all a giant hustle in a lot of places.

People here aren't too corrupt...we haven't encountered too many hustlers here.  But then no where is as bad as Morocco in my opinion for that.  Here, it has been really obvious if someone is dodgy as they have been either trying to feed us false information (such as a guy in Hue telling us the citadel was closed for the next hour but he would ride us around - I didn't believe him and was pleased that my gut instinct was correct!) and another guide we had at My Son quoting us a one day trip to Hue with a car for 160 dollars when the going rate is about 75. But again he was too pushy and we gave him the brush off and all was well. He was also a very lazy guide so there was a part of me thinking why on earth people would want to hire him privately based on his lack of interest and passion in the tour he was currently working on. Still, these types of people exist wherever there are tourists, and it's just a case of working through what you want from a place,

Going to Hue with just a driver and no guide was perfect for us.

Hanoi is very pleasant but again the scooters here are a bit scary.  Hoi An is just heavenly.  I could easily stay around that part for a long time. We had a lovely man take us to Hue who was one of the sweetest people I think I have ever met.

We also saw the ruins in My Son too which were beautiful (shame about the dodgy guide), yet sad at the same time.  They had a lot of damage as they were bombed heavily during the US War. There is still a feeling of rawness here over what went on, but I admire that there doesn't seem to be much of a bitterness.  Same applies to the attitude towards the French too.

Vietnam is definitely transitioning within itself. It's also a very affordable place to visit - the greatest expense you would have would be airfare.  Accomodation, food, transport and internal flights are very reasonable.

Most meals we have had which have included a tip have not come to more than ten pounds for two.  We haven't been drinking very much so that too is something to remember as well. Beer is about a pound anyhow so it doesn't exactly kill the bank and the place we had nice cocktails at worked out at just under 2.50 a cocktail.

My wallet won't be crying as much as it would be if I was in Europe, lets put it that way.  I have been making sure I have been tipping well though as I think that is only right.


Sunday, 20 May 2012

Second Life

There is a lot going on right now and I am glad to report that it's nice things.

I had my appointment with Dr Yelland and it was great.  I made slightly inappropriate jokes on account of being a bit nervous but it all went very well.  I realised he is the only man I have really had my breasts out for which felt a bit perverse on some levels. But the examination took less than 30 seconds and I found it more amusing than distressing in any way.

I was lucky that day to be joined by E and by my wonderful friend L as well. 

I have a follow up appointment with his nurse in Brighton on the 22nd of June.  Which time wise is great as I see Dr Lorimer at Charing Cross on the 20th June and have a T--Club to photograph in between that.

I feel so happy that the surgery is getting closer.  I am hoping my letter from the PCT comes in before Wednesday too.

I phoned them and they said I should receive a letter regarding their decision for my surgery hopefully this week or when I return from my trip to Vietnam.

If this is accepted, 2012 will go down as the best year of my life.  I started it in Japan, I am off to Vietnam (and a night in Singapore) and the surgery should be happening time-wise around October which was when I was hoping to have it.

I love that this is becoming more and more real. I'm also well and truly into the swing of things T-Cycle wise. I can recognise a bit more when I am moody versus when it's the T that is having an adverse reaction to the way I am feeling.

Like any hormone it really can affect your moods. But I feel I am familiarising myself a bit more with it, and each little surge I get seems to fuel me. Yet I have no desire to have a more regular dosage of it as I like that it's gradual.

I am starting to notice the physical changes it is bringing to me and I am liking it.  I feel more that I am who I actually am rather than feeling that I am a work in progress or emerging in certain ways.  That isn't who I am anymore.

I feel less inhibited than I was and at the same time I feel much more confident and stronger than i ever felt before. I get less affected by what people say and do around me.

I do have some sensitivities and feelings left! I'm not just a ball of numbness but at the same time I don't get so bogged down with things in the way I used to.  I find it is such a liberating feeling to no longer feel weighed down by emotional baggage.

I feel more assertive too which has been really nice in terms of being able to assert myself and stick up for what I believe in without feeling riddled with guilt afterwards. I don't argue with people but I don't roll over as much as I used to either.

This is how I have always wanted to be, and I am finding it easier to communicate than I used to. I feel comfortable enough to stand my ground if I have to and also find a reasonable and peaceful way to resolve things if problems emerge as well.

I hate tensions and arguments with people, I also hate feeling dis empowered because I put myself in a vulnerable position or allowed myself to be taken advantage of.

I think the best thing that has happened during my transition is learning how to genuinely love other people as well as myself.

It's also nice to wake up and not look into the mirror picking at faults and imperfections within how I look before I have had time to have so much as my first coffee or tea of the day. It's nice to be able to leave the house not riddled with anxiety or feeling so depressed I wish I wasn't here.

It has taken a lot of work to get to this stage though and I will always seek to improve upon existing niggles as I will never be perfect but I can do my best to be a decent person.

Especially because now I am male. A lot of men within society haven't behaved well at all, especially towards women. I am not going to be one of those.I cannot stand prejudiced or behaviour which demeans and disrespects fellow human beings in a discriminatory way.

Realistically I am never going to be the best of friends with absolutely everyone I meet either.  Nor will I like everyone or expect them to like me but I think it's important at the same time to have a responsibility not to be unnecessarily cruel or nasty to others just because they might not gel with me. There are people that actually personality wise I can't stand but I just try and keep a healthy distance and try not to onvolve myself too closely to them or their affairs as it isn't going to serve any type of positive or productive purpose.

If something affects me directly then I know I have to find better ways not to feel trapped by that type of situation, but luckily I don't have that scenario in place right now so there is no point speculating about something that isn't affecting me presently.

I am excited about getting away with E and exploring new places together. For any of our faults or gripes either with one another or just with life, one thing we have always done well is travel together. I also don't think I will ever meet anyone who could love traveling more than her! Yet at the same time it's lovely to be with someone who sparks my enthusiasm for it too.

The more I travel the less insular I become in my views as being in different environments and having the privilege to be able to experience differing places, cultures and customs has helped me grow as a person.

I try and be as mindful about that whenever I go anywhere and not just see going away as something to cross off a vast 'To-Do- list where life is concerned.

Although one thing I can't wait for when I am healed from having surgery is to be able to put swim trunks on and swim topless for the first time and be able to swim in the sea without having wet breasts clamped to my chest.

The lovely thing is that this is no longer some pipe dream or something I am going to be waiting a number of years for.  This year it very much looks set to happen.

My second life is definitely here.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


I keep wishing today was Thursday, although I know this week is moving at a reasonable pace. I managed to have a productive day and cleared through things I wanted to get on with and didn't flounder or get stressed which I have had on previous occasions lately.

I have been doing quite a bit of work that involves excel spreadsheet based applications recently and perversely I find them calming and almost comforting.  Data input allows my mind to switch off other parts of my brain that are sett on a continual whirring of making decisions and planning my next movements and feeling that I have to be strategic most of the time in order to actualise what I want to achieve out of the next few months and life overall.

I try to be the best I can and since I have found a better sense and appreciation of happiness it has been something that I have been cherishing.

I try not to complain - if I do so it will be because I feel I would have tried many ways to improve a situation. I am also in a process of remembering lovely things people have done for me over the last few months and years.

I think it's so easy to complain and be negative about what someone doesn't have but its also good to sometimes remember what you have got.  As well as remembering nice things people have done for you or remembering when you felt loved or cared for.

Maybe I am turning into a bit of a hippy but I have found since I have taken a slightly more positive approach I have been having really positive experiences and I feel that there is more respect coming my way.

But then it could be argued that this is born out of respecting myself a little more.

I'm so close to being in the body that I have always wanted to have that this is what makes me feel happy when I wake up every day.  Suddenly the rain, or the loud clumping of a housemate seems a bit insignificant when I look at the bigger picture. 

Tiny annoyances aren't life threatening.  The whole world isn't going to end nor will it ruin your life.

I am slowly learning to be a bit less black and white and because of that it is helping me enjoy what life has to offer a bit more.

Well unless someone is being an all out a*sehole then that is something I am learning to deal with in better ways as I feel stronger and more confident.

What I am about to say isn't intended as a "poor me" kind of post but in some ways since being young and perhaps a bit sensitive or seen as a bit of a soft touch that there have been certain types of people who have loved to have a bit of a pop or a jibe of the mood has taken them.

I used to feel really awkward and frustrated in situations like that, as I hate people having a go at me or labelling me or trying to pigeon hole me because of their own frustrations and insecurities.

I have grown tired of other people trying to almost defend the same people saying that I must trigger an insecurity in them or other bulls*it like that. I see it as b*lls*it because if ever I feel a bit insecure of threatened by someone I don't go out of my way to be horrible towards them or be smiling at them around people whilst doing really conceited things to them at the same time.

I keep my distance if anything.

One thing that taking hormones has brought out of me is a stringer side. I am not feeling very aggressive per se, but my tolerance for being a whipping post or a target for people to act out their b*lls*it has really gone down.

If I do something wrong I am very willing and happy to apologise and I expect the same. If someone won't or doesn't see that they need to then I distance from them and find myself not wanting them near me. 

By allowing that kind of person or situations near me I am not respecting myself.

I seem to be on a slight tangent but I finally feel happy and confident enough not to tolerate it anymore. I have stopped feeling a block and a sense of fear that something bad will happen if I don't stand up for myself.

It's not always about challenging something head on or locking horns at every available moment but just affirming in my mindset that I won't accept it.

I just to feel so small and depressed accepting crap before but now I feel so free in myself.

Today I had a day whereby I felt I was me. After Friday I know that I can have a clearer picture as to how long I need to wait for surgery and has the PCT approved funding yet?  I say this because some PCT's have policies whereby you can't see a surgeon unless your funding is approved and some only approve it if you have seen a surgeon.

Needless to say I will find out more what the score is in less than 2 days! Knowing that I am going there is affirming enough as this is real and now I can start thinking more solidly as to what will happen with surgery.  What sort of aftercare will I be seeking? Will I have gel and silicone patches? When will I take bio oil and arnica tablets?

Alongside many other thoughts that are starting to sink in.

It's so nice to feel that there is a shift starting to occur and my previous identity finally feels like a memory rather than a growth.

Following Friday I also have Vietnam to look forward to in a fortnight today as well as seeing the Boychild and writing some non-blog stuff and seeing friends, gym and playing squash. And spending time with E (Before she complains that I "never talk about spending time with her").

Thursday, 3 May 2012

More Movement

I have had one of the best weeks I have had in ages.

I started doing some new work, have been researching some other possibilities purporting to my work.  I have new targets and goals, the scales have been kind to me and shown that I have lost a bit of weight and I have booked a holiday with E in which we leave in 2.5.weeks!

Despite all of this excitement (and believe me there is plenty in the air right now) I received a letter on Tuesday from Brighton and Hove exclaiming that I have an appointment with Dr Yelland next Friday!

It seems that with every bit of my transition as soon as I stop thinking about when I will have an apointment or I seem to give up some type of hope that something will happen then something seems to happen.

I think it's a mixture of my own impatience and sod's law trying to tell me something.

Since knowing that I am going to see him I have had constant butterflies.  I don't want to eat much, I just feel that I am on cloud nine a lot of the time. I'm a bit nervous about it as well. But on that day I shall have E and my lovely friend L who shall be driving us to the hospital as it's in Haywards Heath.

I found some great tickets for the train which weren't too outrageous so my bank balance is thanking me for that one as so far this has been a slightly expensive month, but at the same time I have been careful with my cash so it is all ticks and balances in some respects.

I am starting to think about what I shall ask, how the appointment will go and it's more a case of wondering what is going to happen next. I need to be able to work out from that appointment if he will be doing the surgery, what will the heal time be like, what do I need to prepare for, who will help me post surgery, will I be scarred badly? Will I have a nice neat chest? What if I wake up? Seriously...every thought under the sun I have been having.  Yet at the same time, no matter how much it hurts I have never wanted anything so badly in all of my life.

I can be me.  I will not have breasts anymore or feel revolting every time I take my shirt off and binders.  Not having to wear binders and feel the off pull and strain or stomach aches or feeling constricted because of my clothing would be a God send.  It will also be nice to feel less body dysmorphia. It is something I have had for years and has affected me.  I want to be able to stand proud, to wear deep v neck t-shirts, to swim in some trunks, and to be able to walk around topless.

This is something that is becoming closer to a reality.

Will see what happens post appointment as I don't know how long or what then needs to happen with the PCT. I hope they don't take a long time in processing this as I want a clear surgery date so i can start making mental and physical preparations for this.

Aside having 4 wisdom teeth out last year I have never had an operation before. I am a bit apprehensive about this as I have never been in a big hospital before but at the same time I want this and I will make sure I have everything I need around me to make it comfortable.

In the meantime I have plenty of work to do, a trip to Vietnam to plan and research into what gels and patches are good for post op scars, any diets I should be on and will also concentrate on my fitness and current diet to lose a bit more weight before holiday.

Maintenance is an on going process, that's for sure.