Transition Update

11 Weeks Post Hysto

So, I never did have my post op appointment, unfortunately, and now I’m on the East coast. Nothing happened since the last time I updated. The spotting is entirely gone now! I theoretically would have been cleared to lift at 8 weeks post-op. Fortunately, that timeline worked out well with my move to the DC area. I had to move quite a few heavy boxes of books. I didn’t notice any discomfort or pain.

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13 Boxes of Books!

I start my new job (internship) on Monday. I just arrived to the area on yesterday afternoon. My road trip didn’t work out quite as I had planned, but luckily I left enough time for exactly that reason. My mom was supposed to drive with me, but something came up on her end, so I ended up making the drive by myself (with Harry, of course). It meant that I drove fewer hours per day.

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My copilot sleeping on the job

Anyway, my new job is covering health insurance for me, so I may try to find a doctor that will do a post op examination, but I’m not really sure it’s necessary. I’m not a medical expert though, so I don’t really know.

I am going to check out two gyms this week, on Thursday and Friday, so we’ll see how lifting goes. I’ll have to ease back into it since I’ve been out of the gym for 3 months now.

In other news, I finally get to live with my husband, after spending about a year and a half apart. I’m not really sure about living in this area of the country, but only time will tell on that front. I’m going to be a Federal employee, and the news that came out of the Trump Administration regarding anti-discrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity has me really wary. I’m pretty visibly trans on my social media profiles, so I’ll have to really scrutinize any future co-workers who try to add me on Facebook and Instagram (since they’re connected). I don’t want to be stealth, but I also don’t want to be discriminated against.

I’m still hopeful though! Even though I lived in San Francisco which is pretty liberal, I didn’t like my job. I felt like I was wasting all my hard earned education and experience, so I’m glad to have this opportunity. At the same time, I’m nervous that I may not perform well. I’m fairly new to computer science and programming. I’ve done programming over the years, but for a class here or there, or small projects in labs that I’ve worked in. I’ve never done it as my sole job or within a team of other programmers, so it’ll definitely be an experience. I’m just going to work hard and do the best I can.

Speaking of, I need to get back to doing my homework. Another unfortunate thing about driving across the country by myself is that I didn’t get to work on my school work as I had planned, so now I’m a bit behind, but I have a few days to get caught up and hopefully get ahead.

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My face after the end of my road trip (finally)

Hysto Complete

I made it home last night at about 7:30 PM. The short version is that it actually wasn’t that bad, not that I was awake to know, haha. I mostly just feel sore. I had a laparoscopic total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries).

I got to the hospital and started checking in at 9:45 AM. I spent most of the morning waiting around to be taken to the back to get prepped for surgery. Once I got back there, things moved pretty quickly. Various people (the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and a couple of nurses) came and talked to me before hand. I got asked several times which procedure I was undergoing.

When I got to the operating room, someone asked if I wanted to listen to music. I told them I wanted Hamilton, of course. I was out pretty much soon after that. I only remember a couple of words from the opening song. (I think this was around noon.)

Next thing I know, at about 4:15 PM, I’m waking up in the recovery room with the urgent feeling of needing to pee. I had a catheter in, so there was nothing in my bladder. Apparently that sensation is somewhat normal when you have a catheter in. In all my research, I didn’t see any mention of it though. There are a few different reasons why someone might feel the urge even if there’s nothing there: the body may not like the fact that there’s a foreign object in the urethra, the balloon that keeps the catheter in place could be putting pressure on the sphincter, or the bladder is just having spasms. The surgeon mentioned that she was planning on looking around in the bladder.

This was my biggest complaint really. It was just really uncomfortable. Every time someone asked if I needed anything or how I was feeling, I’d just say that I really needed to pee, haha.

After about an hour, they wheeled me off to another room to prep me for going home. This is where I finally got the catheter out! But first, they filled my bladder up with 300 mL of saline. Then, the nurse deflated the balloon and removed the catheter. The whole experience was pretty unpleasant. Before they would let me leave, I had to be able to void my bladder of half of the saline they put in my bladder. I think she intentionally made me nervous saying that if I wasn’t able to pee it out, they’d have to send me home with a catheter in for a few days. Fortunately, I successfully voided more than half of the saline. I probably would have done a dance if I hadn’t just had surgery.

On a side note, they also made sure I had three stable blood pressure measurements before sending me home and disconnecting me from all the wires and such.

After that, I was able to get dressed while they called my roommates to inform them that I was ready to go. The thing I was most worried about was making it up the stairs to my house. We live on the third floor, and my room is up an additional set of stairs. It was actually not bad at all getting up the stairs, though.

They sent me home with 600 mg ibuprofen, tylenol, and oxycodone. I only took one ibuprofen last night because I had a headache and was feeling slightly feverish.

All in all, I actually feel pretty good. Yesterday, it felt like some soreness with a crampy feeling (similar to like period cramps with pressure on the anus/rectum), but today it’s mostly just soreness and a bit of bloating. Oh, I should mention that I was expecting to experience a lot of bleeding, but it’s been pretty non-existent. There were a couple of spots yesterday, but that was about it. It goes to show that everyone is different.

I’m very grateful this is something I won’t have to think about anymore.

 

 

 

Looming Surgery

My hysterectomy is happening in less than a week. I’m currently making a list of things I need to do before Monday, January 9. So far, I’ve got that I need to buy pads (ugh) because there will be lots of bleeding, buy groceries, and move anything that’s semi-heavy, just in case. I’ll also probably need to do some meal prep this weekend, so I don’t have to feel like I should cook or feel the temptation of ordering out.

I live on the third floor of the house we live in, so I’m concerned about getting up and down the stairs. My living space is actually on the fourth floor in the loft area, so there’s that too. We’ll see how it goes, but I still plan on taking Harry out at least three times a day. If I’m not feeling up to it though, I’m sure my roommates won’t mind.

I’ve got three weeks scheduled off for work. I technically only have 66 hours of sick leave right now, but I should be able to apply for disability after seven days. Then, I’ll get paid half by disability and half by my sick leave. If it works out how I think it should, I’ll only be out six hours worth of pay for the three weeks I’m taking off.

I feel unprepared, but am not sure what else to do to be prepared.

Surgery Scheduled

A really short follow-up to my post last week: I have been playing phone tag with the surgery coordinator for the last week. I finally just wrote a message through Kaiser’s secure messaging system letting them know what my availability is for the next couple of months. They responded today and let me know they put me down for January 9th!

3.5 Years on T + More Surgery

In my last post (which was about 2 months ago), I mentioned that I had an appointment scheduled for Kaiser’s mental health evaluation and a consult/examination with the gynecologist who primarily deals with transgender patients. Well, the appointments had to be rescheduled because one of them had to cancel, but I finally had my appointments last week.

Everything went really smoothly. I spoke to the mental health person first, and he basically asked questions about my history, coming out, transgender stuff, etc. and about my support network here in San Francisco. Then, I was passed on to the gynecologist who had information from the mental health person and my primary care physician. She knew why I was there already, so we talked about my options for a hysterectomy and the risks of removing my ovaries, as well. She was basically ensuring that I knew that I would not be able to have biological kids if I had my ovaries removed and would have to stay on testosterone until at least 50 years old. All of this I’m completely fine with.

So, basically now, I’m at the stage where I need to talk to her office to schedule my hysto! Her office actually called me twice last week, but of course, I was at work. I’ll have to find time next week to call her office on one of my breaks from work. But, I think my surgery could be as soon as sometime next month! We’ll see how it all works out. I’d love for it to be next month, but I may end up going for the beginning of January, depending on if I can get approved for short-term disability from work or not.

Not much else is going on as far as transition stuff is concerned. I am looking for a new job or internship. I had to do a video interview last week and decided to shave to look more presentable. Here’s a couple of pictures of my face after a week of growth:

New Insurance

I feel like it’s been ages since I did a transition update. I’m finally getting settled into some semblance of a routine here in San Francisco. I just finished my first semester of my computer science education. Work is going. It felt routine after about a week or two. I’m not happy with that fact, but it is what it is. I’m hoping there will be a chance to learn new things in the near future, but only time will tell.

One of the really great things about my job is the benefits (and stability). I don’t pay a penny for my health insurance, though there other ways in which they take my money (10% for retirement, yikes). But, that’s besides the point. The insurance plan itself is fantastic.

A few weeks ago, I got in to see my new physician and got set up with my testosterone prescription and lab work. I got a supply of 100 syringes, 2×100 needles, and a 10 mL vial of 200 mg/mL testosterone for a really low price and no cost for the visit.

I should mention that I was thoroughly impressed with how knowledgeable, considerate, and genuinely caring my new physician was during my exam. It made me really happy and comfortable to know that I didn’t have to explain anything. She knew what I was talking about and knew the steps that needed to be taken to get my prescriptions and whatnot.

I mentioned my desire for a hysto and told my new physician I was still on the fence about bottom surgery (though I’m leaning heavily towards a metoidioplasty if I do. I have no desire to have a huge scar on my forearm or any other donor site). Anyway, she instantly gave me referrals to their mental health services and a gynecologist.

Bleh. I feel like I shouldn’t have to jump through these hoops, but according to Kaiser’s online treatment cost calculate, I’d only have to pay $35 for a hysto and my plan will pay the remaining $25,429.

So, I’ll gladly do their little dance for that kind of savings. Under my old insurance (that I was paying for myself through Covered California), I would have had to pay quite a bit more.

I couldn’t find anything about what my out of pocket cost for a meta, but I imagine it would be along the same lines as a hysto. In fact, I think they work with Dr. Crane’s practice here since Kaiser likely doesn’t have any doctor’s themselves who’d perform the surgery (or surgeries).

I’m set up to go see both of them on the same day in less than two weeks. This is all moving a lot faster than I had imagined. I don’t even have sick days  accrued at work yet or PTO for that matter.

But yeah, my job isn’t exactly what I thought it’d be, but after struggling to find one for so long and with the added benefit of their insurance plan, I’m definitely not complaining (too much). It also gives me a chance to focus my effort on my studies, so I can get a better job at some point in the future.

Name Change Folly

It’s been nearly 3 years since I went through the legal process of getting my name changed, and I’m still dealing with getting documents updated.

For my pending job offer, I needed to submit verification of my high school diploma or GED, college transcripts, and work experience.

I couldn’t find my high school certificate, so I sent in a request along with copies of my court order for my name change. I got a call when they received my request saying that I’d have to send my court order somewhere else to be approved to update my name. I said fine and just asked if they could send my certificate as is so I could get on with the employment process.

The person who contacted me then sent me an email with information on what paperwork I needed to get my name updated and where to send it. One of the pieces of documentation was a note from my doctor indicate my name and gender change. 

Now, if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, you’re wondering what my gender change has to do with the name on my records.

I responded:

I do have a question about the doctor’s note. My original doctor’s note was submitted to the court when I filed my petition for a name and gender change; therefore, I do not have a doctor’s note. Also, the doctor that wrote the note worked for Student Health Services at UCSD. I’m no longer a student there, and she no longer works there, so I have no way to contact her. Shouldn’t the court order be sufficient?

And here’s where things get ridiculous (her response):

Would you have copies of your doctor’s notes, that you may have kept for your reference, before you submitted the originals to the court. Also, wondering if you could check with the hospital where the surgery was performed for some type of documentation. This will come in handy for your future needs as well.

Please let me know.

Thank you and have a nice day!

It took me two days to muster a response that wasn’t just me going completely off on her. I still get extremely mad just thinking about it.

All my other legal documents are updated, to include my social security card, birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, etc. All these documents already indicate the gender that I am. I am completely dumbfounded at how this would even be necessary for a high school equivalency certificate. My college degrees don’t indicate gender on them, so why would a high school certificate?

And then there’s the issue that she implied that surgery is necessary for a gender change. I don’t know if it’s just plain ignorance or lack of training or what? But the whole situation is beyond my comprehension.

I responded to the best of my ability, and we’ll see what comes of it. I also sent an email asking about the process to update my name to an email address I could find which I think belongs to the person who will actually be approving my name change.

I can’t wait until my old name is gone for good. I still need to update my DD214 (military discharge papers), but up until recently, I thought that it wasn’t possible.

 

3 Years on T

I hit three years on T yesterday. I don’t have much to say transition wise, so I’ll just throw up a couple of pictures.

I did post a little blurb on my Instagram here.

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I tried to grow out my facial hair for two months, but ended up trimming it for the interview I had about three weeks ago.

In other news, I finally (almost) got a job offer as a Lab Tech for the City of San Francisco. I’m just finishing up the pre-employment vetting process right now. I’ve sent them verification of my education and experience, and now I’m just waiting to get scheduled for a medical exam. I already put in my two weeks at Whole Foods, so I’ll be done with that shortly. And, my lease on my new place begins May 15th, so I’m free to move up there once that begins.

It’s funny how life works out. I had pretty much stopped applying to jobs within my field and was only applying to computer science internships. I actually got offered one internship and I’m in the running for two others. I will be working on my degree while working, so I’m confident that in a couple of years, I’ll be able to get a job as a software engineer.

Anyway, since I’ll be working for the city I’ll be getting pretty decent pay and have great benefits, including insurance. I’m hoping once everything gets settled, we’ll finally be able to afford top surgery for Alex and a hysto for me (and him).

Everything has been moving so quickly the last week or two. It’s been a little overwhelming, but I’m also extremely happy and relieved. I’m also sad at the same time though. I’ve become really close with people from my gym over the past 2 and a half years. It’s going to be tough to leave a place that I’ve called home for so long. They have been there for me for nearly my whole transition. I’ve gotten nothing but love and support from them. It’s going to be hard going to a new place where no one knows my journey and how hard I’ve worked to get to where I am now. I hope I can find a gym that is as welcoming as the one I’m at now.

I’m also leaving the city that I’ve lived in for 11 years now. I consider this place home more than the city I grew up in. I hope someday I can make my way back here (and Alex too!). I am glad to finally be making some progress career-wise, and I hope it leads to me being able to be with Alex soon.

On to new adventures though!

2.25 Years and Counting

I saw one of those timehop photos on my Facebook page today. I look like such a baby. I’m amazed at how things have changed.

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I finally took some better one year post op photos! Though, they’re not as good for comparison since not from the same distance or angle, but it is what it is.

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Feeling pretty good about my chest. Still waiting on my scars to fade, but I think they’re getting better. I’m just impatient as usual.

Since I graduated and am no longer going to student health services, I finally got health insurance and now have a primary care physician AND endocrinologist. I saw the endocrinologist for the first time this week. I was very pleased with how knowledgeable she was on trans health issues and concerns. I didn’t have to explain anything to her. I talked to her about wanting to get a hysterectomy, and she said she would help me get it covered by insurance, basically. I’m really looking forward to this. I just feel like the knowledge that those particular organs are out of my body, uterus and ovaries, will give me peace of mind. I actually had a dream last night that I started bleeding again, which was annoying. I remember thinking in my dream that at least then I had a reason to have a hysto.

20 Months on T, 6 Months Post Op, and Looking for a Job

It’s been nearly two months since I’ve posted here. I didn’t realize it’s been so long… I’ve been in kind of a funk. I’ve been looking for a job full time for a little over two and a half months now. In that time, I’ve submitted probably around 100 resumes/applications, and I’ve only gotten a handful of rejection notifications, two phone interviews, and one in-person interview (which was preceded by one of the phone interviews). That in-person interview did not lead to a job offer, unfortunately. The reason they gave for not hiring me was that they thought that I’d want to be promoted too quickly, and they wanted someone who’d want to stay in the position for a few years… read: overqualified.

I never expected to be in this position of desperately searching for a job. I thought I was doing all the right things, I went to school after I got out of the Marine Corps because I thought it would make me more employable. I worked hard and got good grades (3.3/4.0 for both undergrad and grad school). I worked as a lab assistant and a student researcher while I was in school to get additional, relevant experience. I made good impressions on my professors which resulted in letters of recommendations for my admittance into the M.S. program. And then I graduated in June with a Master’s degree in nanoengineering. I thought I’d find a job quickly with, in my opinion, pretty awesome background. But here I am now, with Christmas only a week away, and I’m still applying to jobs. I feel like I’ve been doing the right things: writing targeted resumes and cover letters for each job posting, attending job fairs, went on a tour at a facility for a company I’d like to work for, etc. I’ve even resorted to applying to jobs which I think I’m overqualified for, jobs in locations I’d never wanted to live in, and even jobs at local Whole Foods Market. Pretty soon, I’ll just start applying to any part-time job I can find.

It’s pretty depressing for me to apply to jobs that I’m pretty sure I could have gotten without putting in the effort of obtaining an engineering degree. I know there are lots of unemployed and underemployed college graduates, but I just assumed that those people didn’t have a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees.

And then I think about the plans that Alex and I made to save money while we had two incomes, but instead our savings has been shrinking, not growing.

I don’t want to make this into a self-pitying post. These are just thoughts that have been going through my head over and over again, and I’m hoping that by writing them out I’ll be able to let go of them and think more positive thoughts.

I still have been going to CrossFit and making progress in my strength and fitness levels. I don’t know what kind of mental space I’d be in without the positive vibes of all the people in the gym, the highs of hitting new PRs for my lifts, and just the general feeling of well-being from getting in a good workout. I have also been trying to do some organizing/cleaning around the apartment, cook more meals, etc. so that I at least feel like I’m at least being useful and productive while I’m unemployed. I also have been able to do some reading (both professional and leisurely reading) and pick up a new programming language in my free time.

All in all, I appreciate the things I do have. I know people are in much worse situations than I am. I still have a roof over my head, food to eat, basic amenities, internet, etc., and I know that not everyone has that. I have family, friends, and a partner who love and support me. I have a partner that doesn’t make me feel bad for not having a job yet. I’ve been able to undergo medical transition in the form of HRT and top surgery. I’m determined to keep pushing through, and someday I’m sure I’ll be employed in some capacity. I hope that I’m able to be grateful for the things I do have and not concern myself about the things that I don’t.

A week from now, it will be 20 months on testosterone for me, and today is my 6 months post op. I sent an update to my surgeon two days ago. Everything looks really great to me. I have some very minor dog ears, but Dr. Mosser said that is a very easy procedure to fix, if I want sometime in the future. I only really notice them when my arms are at my side, if I raise them up a little or have my arms slightly behind me, then they’re not there at all. I don’t think the scars have faded much since the last photo update. It’s hard to tell though since I think sometimes the lighting, angle, and position is slightly different from one photo set to the next. But either way, I have posted the newest photos below.

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As far as additional changes from HRT, the only really noticeable changes are more hair on my shoulders, face, and chest. I haven’t seen any changes in fat distribution, etc. I have noticed growth in my muscles, particularly in the chest region, but I think that’s more from working out than the HRT by itself.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a great holiday season!