transmasculine

It’s been a while

It’s been almost six months to the day (plus a day) since I last posted. Alex has been gone for five months now, and my temporary job ended in November. My old boss failed to do anything about getting me hired permanently, and I’m not going on the cruise that starts in a couple of weeks like I thought I’d be. I picked up a job at Whole Foods again. That’s the quick rundown of what’s been going on.

Life update:

I’ve honestly been battling depression during this time. I’ve been meaning to make some blog posts, but just haven’t been able to mentally find the energy. I’ve been setting small goals for myself in regards to my job search and making myself more employable. I search through job boards weekly looking for jobs in the San Francisco and DC area, save ones that I think I’m somewhat qualified, then apply to them throughout the week. I’m signed up for a computer science class, and I’ve taken a couple of free courses on edx.org in computer science and water treatment. These things drain about all the mental energy I have these days. Doing much other than that is really difficult. I’ve probably been spending too much time watching shows/playing video games, but I can’t always be on the job search. It’s depressing enough as it is to apply to so many jobs and never hear anything or just hear rejection. I feel like if I put more effort in with the same results, it’d be even worse for my mental state.

I don’t want to jump the gun, but I have heard back on two jobs I’ve applied to in the San Francisco area. I’ve been afforded the opportunity to take written exams for both positions. I took one about two weeks ago, and the other one is coming up in two weeks. I’m really hoping I do well and make it to the interview.

I’ve been making back up plans in case I end up not finding a job in my field by a certain date. I applied to an online graduate program in Computer Science, and I’m also seriously considering applying to become a police officer either in the SF or DC area.

Transition update:

Everything is pretty much the same old as far as changes are concerned.

I was anticipating going on ship again, so I requested to be switched to Androgel because I didn’t want to deal with injections again on a ship. It was very difficult to find space and deal with the rocking of the ship. However, my insurance initially said they wouldn’t cover it. I ended up filing a grievance, and I actually received a letter in the mail yesterday saying that they finally agreed to cover it. I will be picking up my prescription tomorrow. I’m looking forward to beginning Androgel. I’m getting a bit tired of doing injections. I definitely don’t look forward to it like I used to.

In other news, I got an awesome tattoo to cover/camouflage my top surgery scars. I’m in love with it.

I saw my endocrinologist this morning. My levels are good, and I’m relatively healthy (my cholesterol is a little high). We talked about setting me up with a surgeon for a hysto. She recommended trying to get it done before the end of 2016 due to the uncertainty of the Presidential elections.

Overall:

I think things are looking up. I’m feeling like I’m breaking through this depression, and if all else fails, I’m planning to move to the DC area, so I can at least be with Alex. I miss him. I’m looking forward to my lease ending in August.

 

1 Year Post Top Surgery!

This last year has flown by! I’m really tired after as I just finished the busiest two days on the ship, so this will be short and to the point.

Photos!

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Or maybe just one… WordPress and my phone are disagreeing.

I will do a comparison photo set when I return home in a couple of weeks.

It feels great to have my chest as it is now. I got to enjoy Hawaii doing shirtless activities. Though, I got asked twice about my scars by strangers, and I just said I had surgery and left it at that.

I was a little self conscious about being shirtless around the people I’ve been working with, but not enough to not take my shirt off. No one I have been on the ship with has asked about my scars.

I probably have more to say, but it’s past my bedtime.

I will be in Seattle in 9 days!

2 Years on T

I can’t believe it’s been two years already. I don’t even know what to say.

I posted the following to my Facebook timeline:

I wanted to share with everyone the changes that I’ve gone through in the past two years.

I’ve been lucky enough to receive hormone treatment and have my surgery mostly covered by insurance. There are many people in my situation who are not as fortunate, so I’m grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had.

The changes I’ve been through have been crazy and incredible. When I was younger, I never thought I could be as comfortable in my body as I am now. I’ve worked really hard, particularly in the past year and a half in the gym to change my body in ways I could never have imagined. But as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve worked even harder to accept and love my body the way it is.

I think it’s important to note that while I post these pictures, I think some more important changes I’ve experienced are the increase in my self-confidence and self-esteem. I finally feel like my body and mind are in alignment. I feel a lot more comfortable with how interact with the world and other people. I would have never been able to post pictures like this before. I would have been too embarrassed of the way I looked and felt about my body.

It took a long time for me to figure out that this was the path I needed to take. Part of that was because there just wasn’t a lot of trans representation. I didn’t even know that transitioning was a possibility. Then, one day, a friend posted a one year video montage of a transgender man’s transition. At that point, everything just clicked. I must have watched that video 10 more times that night. The way he described how he knew he was trans was everything I felt. I knew then that I had to transition. That’s part of the reason I want to share this with my friends and family. I think it’s important to have different experiences and perspectives out there. By sharing my experiences, I hope that someday I can help someone who was in my situation.

I have mostly kept to myself during my transition. I think I’ve posted two (three max) transition related posts over the past two years. As I said, I think it’s important to share my experiences. I’m fortunate enough to not feel in danger by sharing my transgender identity. So, the more that I can put myself out there and show people that transgender folks are just like everyone else, the better. I know trans people are all over the media today, but sometimes I think it’s hard to really relate to others unless you know them personally. I feel like if you know someone personally who has a different life experience than you, they will have a greater impact on you than just seeing someone on TV or in a news article.

Anyway, I think that mostly sums up my feelings of being two years on testosterone. I’m in a place where I really feel comfortable putting myself out there.

As an aside, I was completely stealth while I was working at Whole Foods (I just had my last shift last night, woo!). In some ways, I liked just being “one of the guys” without any caveats, but at the same time, it made it hard for me to really feel comfortable. There were a couple of times were I almost outed myself just in normal conversation talking about experiences I’ve had in the past or whatever, and I had to catch myself. I think it’s definitely something that should be considered on a case by case basis for me, depending on the comfort level I feel with the people around me.

And with that I’ll end this post with photo comparisons!

FaceBackArms CrossedFlexed

23 Months on T, 9 Months Post Op

Just a quick top surgery/transition update.

Top Surgery:

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The top two are from 3 months post op, and the bottom two are from 9 months post op. Not much change in scar color, but I think they’re about as thick as they’re going to get now. Some parts of them have definitely flattened out and feel pretty soft, but other parts are raised and could definitely use some massaging. I’ve started using Mederma on them recently. I used Kelocote in the beginning, but when I ran out, I stopped. We’ll see if it makes a noticeable difference.

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I posted this photo comparison to my Facebook timeline the other day and received an overwhelming amount of support from my friends, family, and fellow CrossFitters and weightlifters. It was a pretty good feeling. I’m really happy with the progress I’ve been making the past few months since top surgery. I’m also excited to see my future progress. But more importantly, I’ve noticed that I’ve been feeling more and more comfortable in my body and I’m actually less concerned than I used to be with how I look. I still think about it, but it’s different now than it used to be. I’m less worried about looking feminine or having wide hips or a big butt or thick thighs, and more just think about being generally healthy and working towards being able to lift more weight. That can be kind of a rabbit hole too, because I get in my head comparing myself to other guys, but I can at least look back on my old lifts and old PRs and see that I am making objective progress.

Face:

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Left to right, top to bottom: 8 months, 17 months, 23 months on T

My hair is definitely starting to fill in and some is even coming in on the cheeks now. I think in a couple more years, I’ll have a pretty nice beard. The last 6 months I’ve definitely noticed quite a bit of growth.

In other news:

I got a temporary job that I’ll be starting soon that’s sort of in my field (it’s at least science related). I’ll be happy to spend less time at Whole Foods, but I’ll continue working there on the weekends. I’ll still need my job there once my temp job is over. It’s only for 3 months, sadly, but I hope it will boost my resume a little bit.

I don’t know if I’ve just never noticed this before in my daily life, or if it’s just the people I work with, but the people there use very gendered language. My coworkers say “sir” to the guys all the time, even the guys say it to each other. It’s also a very boys against girls atmosphere. It actually makes me really uncomfortable sometimes. I don’t think I’ve been that oblivious to gendered language and such in the past, so I think it may just be this particular environment. I guess I’ll find out when I move on to other jobs. I just wanted to make a note of it to reflect on later one.

22 Months on T

And 8 months post op!

I took this picture the other day, and I have to say that I’m really happy with the way I look now.

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It’s amazing to actually feel good about my body. I still have my bad days when I think that I haven’t made enough progress or I have too much fat, but those are definitely outweighed by the good days. It also helps when I make comparisons to older photos. It’s hard to see the progress that you’re making when you see yourself everyday, but when you look back at the way you looked a few months ago, the differences definitely stand out. Sometimes I think I’m being vain when I take so many photos of myself, but it has helped a lot with my self-esteem in regards to my body.

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I also think that the image of myself in my head still hasn’t caught up to how I actually look. I think it’s still lagging behind. I’ve noticed this a lot lately since I’ve started working at a place where no one knows of my transgender status. I think I still have this idea in my head that people perceive me as more feminine than I really am. I haven’t heard or seen many people talk about this sort of thinking. I’m wondering how long it will take for my brain to catch up to reality.

In other transition news:

I’ve been tying up some loose ends with my name change the last week or so. I’m hoping pretty soon everything will have my correct name. The last things in the works are my passport and car and motorcycle registration (that I know of). I think getting all the documents changed has been one of the more tedious processes of transitioning. It’s awesome when you get the court order, but then contacting all the businesses you deal with is really a pain in the ass. Sometimes, they don’t really have any idea what to do with your name change request, but for the most part, people haven’t even batted an eye. Or maybe they did, but since most of my contact was through the phone, I don’t know if they did.

Beard progress:

I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of my facial hair in the daytime, which is when I have the best lighting. However, I’ve definitely noticed that it’s filling in really nicely, and there are more hairs creeping up on my cheeks and neck. I’m excited to think that in a couple more years, I’ll have a really nice beard going on.

Other thoughts:

While I’ve been having really good thoughts about the way my body looks, I’ve really been struggling to stay positive in regards to my job search. I think I’m on the borderline of depression. I am grateful to have a job at all, but when I think about all the work (and money) I’ve put into getting two bachelor’s and a master’s degree over the past seven years to only be able to land a job that I didn’t need a degree for at all… I don’t know. It just wears me down a little bit more every day. I’ve gotten a couple of rejections in the past couple of weeks that have made it even harder because I’ve basically been told I didn’t have enough of the right experience.

Also, it’s been a lot harder to focus on looking for and applying to jobs since I’ve basically been working full-time at Whole Foods. I’ve been exhausted by the time I get home and don’t want to do anything at all. Not to mention, my hours have been all over the place, so my sleeping has been all over the place. It’s been about a month now, and I’m finally getting used to it, so I hope that I’ll be able to devote more energy towards looking for jobs in my field.

I do have an opportunity to do temporary work on a research vessel from Hawaii to Seattle. I’ll glad take the opportunity to network and add some skills to my resume even if it’s only work for 3 months. I’m also hoping that I’m capable to do the job that I was told they wanted someone with more chemistry experience.

Ending on a good note:

Alex started T last Thursday! I’m excited for him since he’s been waiting so long because he was in the military. I will admit that I will be jealous when/if he gets as strong or stronger than I am. He’s already at the same strength that I was nearly a year on T. We’ll see how that pans out. Maybe it’ll give me motivation to work harder. I’ll also have to remind myself that I shouldn’t be comparing myself to other people anyway. It’s easy to get down when I start doing that.

I’m hoping I have some better news to report on the job front soon. Until next time!

Learning to Persevere

Since I haven’t had much luck finding a job, or even getting interviews, in my job field (engineering, materials science, and/or biotech), I decided to apply to Whole Foods and Starbucks in the middle of December. I heard back from Whole Foods two Fridays ago for a Coffee and Tea Bar/Bakery part-time position. I went in for an initial interview on Monday and ended up making it to a second interview on Saturday where it was between me and one other person. I got a call yesterday saying they wanted to hire me!

I’m actually pretty excited at the opportunity to work at Whole Foods. I always told myself that when I retired, I wanted to go to culinary school and/or work as a chef. While this position isn’t either of those, it’s at least a step in that direction that’s more than my amateur cooking skills at home.

While I’m excited about this opportunity, I’m also sad that I’ve been unable to successfully find a job in my field. I’ve worked really hard over the past seven years to earn my degrees (plus tens of thousands of dollars of debt). But, I’ve been trying to stay positive. Luckily, the person who will be my supervisor at Whole Foods is aware of my desire to continue looking for jobs in my field, and if I do get another job, my willingness to work both jobs. The benefits for part-time employment are actually pretty good, to include at least a 20% discount at the store. And, I will feel a whole lot less stressed when I’m actually bringing in a paycheck (even if it’s not a lot) compared to bringing in no money.

I had to fill out some information for a background check. The information required that I document names, employment history, place of residence, and educational history in the past seven years. Of course, I had to list my birth name because I’ve only had my name legally changed for a year and a half now. I wonder if this information will be shared with the employer, or if it’s just used for verification for the agency conducting the background check. Whole Foods will be the first place that I’ve worked since transitioning where no one knows of my old identity. There will be no awkwardness or having to come out to different people who knew me before. There will be no misgendering because it slipped. I’m not sure how I feel about living “stealth,” but I’m glad that I won’t have to worry about coming out to everyone whether I want to or not (which is how I felt during my last year of school with staff and faculty who knew me before and after transitioning).

(Note: I don’t really like the term stealth because it implies that transgender people who choose not to reveal their transgender status are hiding something.)

I’m working on appreciating the things that I do have (i.e. this new job, a nice place to live, delicious food every night) rather than the things that I don’t have (i.e. a job in my field). Life takes us in unexpected directions sometimes, and sometimes it’s worth fighting against, but other times it might be the best thing to happen.

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!

18 Months on T

I can’t believe it’s been a year and a half already. Time is definitely going more quickly now. I’ve been keeping myself busy with looking for a job, and this week was particularly hectic on that front. I attended a couple of workshops for resume writing and how to get recruited, a job fair, a tour at a company I’d like to work for, and had a phone interview for a job that I didn’t apply to. This is definitely the most productive week I’ve had since I’ve started looking for a job. I finally feeling like I’m making some progress. Up until now, I’ve just been applying online to job postings and not hearing anything back. It feels good to finally have some sort of contact instead of just sending my resume into the black hole that is known as the “applicant tracking system.”

I will admit though, it’s nice to have only one thing on my plate. I finally feel like I’m at a point in my transition where it’s not something that I’m thinking about constantly. It doesn’t take up valuable mental and emotional space that would take away from my job search like it took away from my ability to focus on my classes while I was in school. There are still things that I would like to do, in regards to transition, such as a hysterectomy/oophorectomy and possibly metoidioplasty. However, those things don’t weigh on my in the same way that waiting for top surgery did. If they happened within the next couple of years, I’d be happy, but I don’t feel like it’s a necessity.

In other news, I finally got a suit that I feel comfortable in. It’s probably the first time I’ve looked at myself in whatever articles of clothing I’m wearing and the first thing that came to my mind wasn’t the fact that I hated how wide my hips were. That’s definitely an improvement for me.

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I wore this to the job fair I attended on Wednesday. It was a little stressful since it was only my second time tying a tie (the first being when I got married almost a year and a half ago, and I did a horrible job that time). Not to mention, I only attempted to learn about half an hour before I had to be heading out the door. I think it ended up turning out pretty good though, all things considered. I was definitely one of the better dressed there at the job fair, so that’s a plus.

Anyway, I thought I’d post some comparison photos from pre-T to now.

Front Arms Crossed Pre to 18

Back Pre to 18

This last one is just over 1 month post op to just over 4 months post op. It’s definitely nice to see the changes from working out are becoming more apparent.

Front Post Op 1 to 4Hopefully I get a job soon and be able to share some insight into the process while being trans. I am slightly concerned when it comes to background checks and having to answer if I’ve gone by any other names. I’m sure it will work out. I wouldn’t want to work for anyone that would be a problem for… but at some point, I do have to pay my bills and start paying my student loans.

Until next time.

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.

8 Weeks Post Op

Yesterday was my 8 weeks post op. I can’t believe it’s been 8 weeks now. It seemed like it was going slow at first, but now it feels like the time has flown by. Things are looking really good in my opinion. The left side is still slightly bigger than the right side. It’s probably just residual swelling. I’ve read that it can take up to 6 months to fully go away. The scars seemed to have gotten a bit thicker, but it’s to be expected, I suppose. I’ve been massaging them and the surrounding areas to break up some of the scar tissue and to regain my range of motion. I’ve been back to CrossFit for two weeks now. My strength in certain areas have suffered as I expected, but other areas are surprisingly strong. I feel like I can lift some of my old weights despite the time off. It feels really good. I also got a personal record on my mile time last week. It felt really nice to have an improvement so soon. It’s probably a combination of the fact that I have been doing cardio since 3 weeks post op and also that I don’t have an extra tight sports bra around my chest, constricting my breathing.

56 Days Post Op

56 Days Post Op

10 Days Post Op

10 Days Post Op

In other news, my suit is ready to be picked up tomorrow. I’m kind of nervous about it, but if it needs further alterations, then I’ll try to find a good tailor in the area to work with me. I bought some new shirts with some graduation money. It makes me feel slightly better about myself when I catch glimpses of myself in the mirror, and I can actually be proud of my chest instead of criticizing how the binder looks, etc. I’m still trying to get myself to a place where my hips don’t bother me as much, but here goes.

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