Dr. Mosser

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.

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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!

17 Months on T

Top Surgery:

Last week, I hit my 3 months post op mark. I’m feeling really good about my results. I’ve got all my mobility and range of motion back. For anyone that is worried about their outcomes/swellings immediately after surgery, I can say that it does get better. I was worried for a while about whether my swelling would go away on its own, and it did for me. Now, I think I just get to play the waiting game of the scars to fade. I ran out of Kelo-cote, so I’ve just been massaging the scars with some Eucerin lotion.

I’ve recovered from my time off due to surgery and have even set some personal records as far as my workouts go. It feels good to be back into it and know that I’m getting stronger and faster than I was before.

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11 days post op vs 3 months post op

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Face:

I haven’t done an update of my face/facial hair in a while. My beard is definitely filling in along the jaw line, and I’m getting hairs on my cheeks sprinkled about my face. It’s really hard to get good comparison photos, by the way. I tend to give people crap in my head for people who post comparison photos where they look nothing alike, but after trying to take photos for an hour or so that are like a photo that I’ve taken at earlier dates, I take back all the crap that I give, even if it is only in my head. Anyway, it’ll be nice to see what happens in another 9 months or so.

8.5 months on T vs. 17 months on T

8.5 months on T vs. 17 months on T

Life:

Last week, I had my last therapy session. My student insurance will be ending this weekend, and honestly, my therapist and I both agreed that I don’t really need it anymore. The real reason I even started going was so that I could get a letter for my top surgery. I will admit though, it was nice to have someone to talk to on a regular basis about my anxieties regarding transitioning. I have never had doubts about transitioning, but I have had anxieties about it, mostly dealing with the people/social aspects of transitioning: who to come out to, when to come out, which bathrooms to use, etc. Despite the difficulties and awkward situations, transitioning is the best thing I could have ever done for myself. For so long (basically my whole life), I could not figure out why I was unhappy. I used to think that I didn’t have a reason to be unhappy, so maybe I was just damaged in some way and would be unhappy forever. Don’t get my wrong, I still have my ups and downs, but overall I’m happy with my life and myself. Transitioning doesn’t fix everything, or maybe it doesn’t even fix anything, but it allows you to be who you believe you are. When you get that out of the way, it allows you to tackle the other things in your life. Anyway, I’m able to go back to therapy if I like at a later time. I also mentioned that in the future I may want to have bottom surgery, and my therapist is happy to see me if that’s the case in the future.

I’m currently looking for jobs. I’ve only been doing it about 30-40% effort so far. I’ve been working my student position through the summer part-time, but that position is ending for me as of tomorrow. So, starting next week, I’ll be doing the job hunt thing full time. I’ve put in between 25-30 applications so far. I’ve only heard back from three of them, and they were all messages saying they would be pursuing candidates that better match the skills/qualifications they are looking for. In all honesty, I was applying for jobs that I didn’t quite meet the qualifications for because it was in the industry that I thought I wanted to be in. I was applying for biotech jobs, but I’ve expanded my search to work in materials science as well. I am definitely learning from the experience. I’ve begun reaching out to people who I know that were in the industries that I want to be in, asking for advice and such. We’ll see what comes of that. I’m also thinking about hitting up some job fair or networking events. I’ve been looking at some defense contractors where my military experience would be an advantage for me. The only thing that makes me nervous about that is my DD-214 has my old name on it. Technically, they’re not supposed to discriminate based on gender identity, but it still makes me kind of anxious.

Anyway, hopefully something comes up soon on the job front. It does give me more time to work out and take care of myself until I do find a job, at least.

6 Weeks Post Op

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IMG_20140730_070230_689I sent these pictures to Dr. Mosser this morning. Everything looks really good to me. Now that the swelling/fluid is gone, I’ll just be waiting for my scars to fade. I should be cleared to go back to my normal workout routine and such today. I’m planning on going to the noon class at Fortius today. I’ll probably be taking it easy for a while though since lifting my arms still results in some tightness/stretching of the skin, but overall, I have my full range of motion back with no pain.

I did CrossFit today. It felt pretty good. The only movements that resulted in some trouble (tightness in the chest) were strict press and pull ups. I took it easy on those, but everything else felt really good. I’m going to be easing myself back into over the next couple of weeks. I hope my scars don’t stretch too much, but I’d rather get my fitness back up than spend time worrying about how my scars look.

I’ve been using Kelocote on my scars twice a day since 3 weeks post op. I’ve also been massaging the scars as I’ve seen suggested through a Google search.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with how everything looks. Now, only time will tell how the scars will end up looking.

4 Weeks Post Op

I know I said I wouldn’t be doing a chest update unless I saw significant improvement. Well, I’m amazed at how much the swelling/fluid build up has gone down this week. With how slowly it’s been going down since I first took my compression vest off to take a shower at 5 days post op, I can’t believe it has improved this much in a week. I thought for sure that wearing the compression vest less would make it take even longer along with the added cardio, but apparently it did the opposite?

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IMG_20140716_070442_070For reference, here’s a link to last week’s photos: 3 Weeks Post Op

 

3 Weeks Post Op

Today is my three weeks post op. I had a follow up with Dr. Mosser. I sent him the following pictures:

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I told him about the swelling that’s still there on my left side, but aside from that, everything seems to be looking really good. I also asked about when I can sleep on my stomach again, how much I should wear the compression vest now, and if it was still okay for me to begin cardio today.

Here was his response:

Hello August, and thanks for sending those photos. I’d hold off another week or two on sleeping face down, just because of potential issues with rubbing the skin grafts during sleep. Everything does look like it’s improving. Please switch to using the chest garment at night only for 3 weeks and then you can stop the garment altogether. I’d like to do another follow-up in 3 weeks’ time. Cardio activities are fine now.

So, today was my first day out and about without the compression vest. It was really nice… a little weird too. The only time I’ve really worn a shirt or anything without something strapping down on my chest, whether it be a bra, sports bra, or binder, is when I’ve been sitting around the apartment. And, that has only been fairly recent since I’ve had roommates until about 6 months ago. I’m really excited to just put on a shirt and go about my day. I don’t have to struggle with my binder and have to adjust all day. It was fairly warm today, but I managed to not sweat while walking around, which is a first for me since starting testosterone. I’m sure being without the extra layer helped. I was a little paranoid that the swelling might increase without the compression vest on. I checked it once while I was in the middle of work to give myself some peace of mind.

When I had my initial consultation with Dr. Mosser, he asked me what I expected or what I wanted to get out of top surgery. My response was that I wanted to be able to just put on a shirt without a binder. I think he really liked that answer then. He mentioned that a lot of guys are hoping their chests would look like some celebrity’s chest. But, I’m really happy to say that I got exactly what I wanted out of top surgery. I am hoping to make it to the beach one of these days, but that probably won’t happen until my left side goes down some more.

I ordered some Kelo-cote on the recommendation of a friend (and I’ve seen a few other guys on various social medias and blogs talk about it). Hopefully that will come tomorrow, and I can begin applying that to scars. They don’t look too bad right now, in my opinion, but I’d like to do what I can to reduce their appearance.

I probably won’t make another chest update until my next follow-up appointment in 3 weeks unless my swelling makes significant improvements before then.

2 Weeks Post Op

So yesterday was my two weeks post op. I had a virtual follow up on Monday. I sent pictures to Dr. Mosser and wrote a quick note about the swelling on my left side. He replied the same day and said that I had bleeding on that side, so the swelling was to be expected. He also said it should go down in a few weeks. It’s basically fluid accumulation where tissue was removed. Usually, this gets reabsorbed. In some cases, they aspirate the fluid, and in rare cases, drains need to be reinserted. I also found out that this fluid build up occurs in about 40% of mastectomy patients. I didn’t know about any of this before to surgery. I’ve heard of others mention swelling, but maybe this is what they meant? In any case, I’m just waiting for it to go away at this point.

I still have one more week of wearing the compression vest. It’s either getting more comfortable to wear because the swelling/fluid is going down or I’m getting used to wearing it all the time, bit it seems to be digging into my skin less.

I’ve caught my image in the mirror in passing, and it’s really nice to see a flat chest. I’m also not self-conscious about the compression vest the way I was with my binders. I feel like it’s not visible at all. My binders had weird lines that I could see. I’m sure I was the only one that noticed, but it still bothered me. I’ve also noticed that I’ve been walking more upright and with my shoulders back since I’m not worried about the visibility of my chest. It’s nice to have one less thing to think about.

2 Weeks Post Op

2 Weeks Post Op

7 Days Post Op

1 Week Post Op