November 30, 2007

Out of Surgery

Posted in surgery at 5:56 pm by Michael

Last night at about 630 I was out of surgery and was up to the room by eight. Today I’ve been resting, and trying to figure stuff out like – how to drink without choking when your nose is blocked. This stuff isn’t easy! Babies are way smart!

And was in for a couple of hours this morning (I sitll need lots of help), then after she left to get Peri and John, my mom and sister took over.

I was able to walk both this morning and afternoon around the hospital floor which felt pretty good. Except for the throbbing hedache and having no nose function, its all good!

We tried to take a picture, but we only have cell phones, and because of the great TOS, its virtually impossible to get pitures off… oh well – no one would be happy seeing these today. My head , nose, chin, ears, all totally wrapped…. tomorrow much of this can come off.

 Ok, I’m beat, this about all I can do for now…

Talk more soon!

Our Megan count is about 70/30. 🙂

November 29, 2007

Why? Alternate Title: Itchy!

Posted in Identification, schedule, surgery, transgender at 12:31 am by Michael

Ok, here’s goes – here’s one of the pictures Dr. O (more accurately Tatiana) took last Monday as “before” pictures.

Headshot

Great, huh? (I updated the Pictures page with a few more, plus the ability to see not just thumbnails.)

(Please NB that the crazy Alfalfa look going here is not at all a regular hairstyle for me. Since my hairline will be impacted, the Dr. wants a “before” shot to clearly show said hairline. There are bobby pins in my hair to create this super groovy effect.)

I’ve been on hormones (estrogen (primary female hormone), progesterone (breast development), finasteride (anti-androgen – helps lower the dose of the other two, and reduces/reverses hair loss)) for eight months – with good effect. My skin is softer. I lost a lot of chest and arm hair (before even the laser death ray was employed). I had some breast development (I liked to think of them as “A Minuses”). I had laser on my face, chest and arms, and I shave my legs. I started electrolysis on my face since the white hairs (I had a bunch) don’t get zapped by the death ray – only the black ones (and even those take three plus treatments to get rid of). (As an aside – and it feels like this whole blog is a big aside-  I can’t have electrolysis for two weeks before, three months after facial surgery because of infection risk. This is freaking me out for two reasons. One, I’m not done. My neck and parts of my cheeks haven’t been touched. Second, even the “done” places need retreatment. Over the past two weeks, the little black dudes have been showing up over my top lip again – lovely. Second, to have electrolysis you need to grow out the to-be-zapped hairs for a couple days so they can be seen and zapped. I get the ever-so-lovely C. Everett Koop look from that. We’ll have to strike some arrangement to only do certain parts so I don’t get despondent for those days).

However, even dressed like Megan (I think we have a winner in the middle name contest btw – “Jenna”), I read, no SCREAM “guy in women’s clothes”.

I was feeling pretty good about myself today when we headed to lunch (read the earlier post). I was strong, confident, and ready to face the world. Anh called me Megan, so did friends and fam – wow, this is really working! Yea Me!

As I said before, I went into the women’s room – more than once! Again, progress.

Then, we go to order.

First off, the maitre’d gives me the wine list. Huge tell – especially since we were out w/two other guys.

(Time check: It’s now 12:00 Midnight – I’m now NPO).

Secondly, when it came time to order, the waitress looked at me, said “Sir, can I take your order.” And, in a moment of, well, a moment, I said nothing (as one other person needed to order.) He ordered, then it came back to me. She says: “And what would you like?” It was clear that she was unclear in the pronoun department. Schoolhouse Rock NEVER covered this situation (http://www.schoolhouserock.tv/Rufus.html).

Oh well… not surprising.

As I talked about earlier, post lunch, and requisite “A Frame Hugs” (Paul, you are super buff – clearly you have been working out), Anh went off to the market and I grabbed a cab home. The first side of the hotel that I tried to get a cab from didn’t have cabs or a cab line. I had already put on my jacket, I had on jeans (clearly women’s jeans), and a North Face fleece, which while not tight, wasn’t completely showing nothing either. Without skipping a beat, the doorman said to me: “Sir, the cab line is on the other side, and we’ll have one ready for you when you get over there.” He calls on the radio and I hear him say to his co-worker (very politely) that there’s a gentlemen coming over who needs a cab. So, as you can imagine, when getting over to the other side, “Right This Way Sir!” was the call-out I got.

Now, to be clear, 100% of these people never gave me a dirty look, a sideways glance, or in any way weren’t completely polite at all times. They were great.

I just look like a guy. I get it.

Even with breast implants, and wearing women’s clothes, I look like a guy. Now, I wasn’t wearing a dress, or makeup, or heels or a purse, or any other huge tell… but just as me, it’s no contest. The Y chromosome wins hands down.

Duh!

Ok, but remember the title of this post – “Why?” and I’ll get to the itching thing in a second.

There are trans-folks who deal with this every day – who present in their non-genetic (non-birth ) gender and who simply do not pass in their true gender.  They are 100% stronger than me. No doubt. Sorry, I can’t do it.

I can’t have the first thing that people notice about me is that I’m a guy dressed like a girl.

I just don’t think that I could deal with every time I meet or just encounter someone new: getting a coffee, checking into a hotel, buying groceries – have that be the *first* thing that crosses their mind.

If that makes me shallow, or weak, or somehow less of a person, then so be it (but have you WATCHED “The Housewives of Orange County”?)

This impacts more than just me though. This impacts Anh, Samwich, Peri, John, and the rest of my friends and family. Anh didn’t choose to be married to a woman. Anh married a 6’ 2’’ man. It’s a huge leap to go out in public now, “with” a woman. And, she can do it. Wow. She’s amazing. The kids chose this even less – Anh at least has a choice – but like it or not, I am the kids “dad”.

So… now we get to the nut of “Why FFS?”. FFS (facial feminizing surgery) is the way (that I know of) that I can be who I am, on the inside, on the outside, and in society in a way that’s not first and foremost about me being trans.

I’m a lot of things – a lot of things that I’m proud of – parent, friend, sibling, kid, traveler, engineer, etc. I want to be those things. I don’t want to always be “transgender .XX”.

Now, this is not to say that I’m trying to hide. Which clearly, I’m not. If I was trying to hide, this would be the worst example of hiding in he world history of hiding.

But hiding, and always being transgender first are two different things. I want to be me first. I will always be transgender, and I will always be (and I am) proud of it, but I don’t want to be always “transgender + XXX”.

Hopefully that makes sense.

Anyway, the itching. Right now, I have an ace bandage wrapped around a bra, which underneath has some sort of gauzy, tape stuff in some places (I know because I looked). Basically, between the compression, and not taking this off in three days, and everything else, it itches like hell. I feel like I want to tear my skin off with a garden hoe.

However, I will refrain from that, and I look forward to FFS tomorrow because I know that I get these bandages off. I unfortunately also know they get replaced with even more uncomfy ones, but hey, its progress.

I can’t wait to be home.

November 28, 2007

Less than Twelve Hours Left

Posted in friends, schedule, surgery, transgender at 8:19 pm by Michael

Waking up this morning, I felt almost normal – I was hungry, my energy level was good, and I felt like I was ready to take on the world. What a change from the day before.

We got up just after 6, got ready, and walked to Boogaloo’s, on Valencia and 22nd, which was at least (I say more) a mile. I had some crunchy granola – last time for at least a week, and boy, it was just good.

After that we walked back home, and just chilled out for a bit. At this point, I hadn’t had any pain meds since early in the morning, and I was still upright, and coherent!

My mom and sister came by, and watched the Samwich, while Anh and I went to lunch at the Four Seasons downtown. We took the muni there. I had flashbacks to when I was sixteen and driving back home after my first lung surgery. I thought for sure that my dad hit every pothole, at least twice, in order to toughen me up. I loved my dad, but that’s just the kind of thing he would do!

Anyways, the muni – if you want a bumpy, rattle-y, start-and-stop-y ride, go for it. It had the benefit of being cheap, and probably somewhat faster. It was a little painful.

We found the Four Seasons, and we met our friends. Now, I was dressed in full “Megan” wear – jeans, a shirt and a sweater. However, as previously discussed, I don’t really pass from the neck up. (You can ask Dr. O the technical reasons why, but this will all be moot tomorrow – at least for me.) I used the women’s room, which was the second time I did this (last night at Absynthe being the first). I can’t admit that I felt 100% comfy doing it, but it felt most appropriate.

When I saw Paul, he gave me a big hug, which I appreciated. However, this wasn’t the “A-Frame Hug”, which meant my chest got a little squeeze. Good news – no poppage – and no drainage. Bad News – tears in my eyes.

We left lunch, Anh went to the ferry terminal to get some food for the next few days, and I cabbed it home (I was beat), and took a nap.

Went to dinner at a local Mediterranean place (Fattoush), and it was enjoyable, and now we are back and home, in countdown for the hours. At 5am my mom and sister will be back, and it will be back to the hospital for us.

I’m not as stressed as I was Sunday night, but this is the big one… no going back here. We took a glimpse at the “results” from Monday, and it’s pretty good! Boobalicious?  Not quite. But, pretty good! We’ll see when the drains, swelling, and wraps come off. I’m an optimist.

Anh and I are doing great, as is Samwich. Stressed, but we are in this together. I can’t imagine a better partner.

If I can, I’ll write again before we leave for the hospital in the morning, otherwise, Anh will update when I’m out of surgery tomorrow. First post pictures (and a pre-picture) will be tomorrow.

Thanks for all the positive notes and thoughts; it’s been a lifeline for us all.

We are watching Project Runway w/James (Anh’s bro). Samwich is in his Red Sox nighttime outfit, and the mood is light.

Tomorrow is just another day – the start of a new adventure.

Last Day With This Face

Posted in surgery, transgender at 9:22 am by Michael

This is it.

Last full day with this face.

We’ve been adventuring around a little bit already – dinner last night, breakfast this morning, but tomorrow at this time the surgery will be under way, and I’ll look permanently different.

I’ll miss it. 

November 27, 2007

Progress!

Posted in friends, surgery, transgender at 10:08 pm by Michael

For more than the past year, I’ve been running (with Anh, then with Anh and Samwich (me pushing) from three to six miles, on average, at between four and seven times a day. There were months that went past in the spring where I wouldn’t skip a day for six to eight weeks.

Here’s the payoff: less than 24 hours post surgery, I was up and walking around the block – multiple times. We walked a couple blocks to a small café here this morning, then went around two blocks, because I was feeling pretty good, and it was a good way to keep Samwich sleeping (he loves to fall asleep in his stroller).

I have to tell you, a cup of coffee and a english muffin with bacon and cheese never tasted so good – yum!

Right now, I have drains in, which makes my chest look kind of odd – there’s the regular chest-y area, then two large catch drains, with thin tubing under the skin. They work in an interesting way. They are like squeeze balls with stoppers, with tubes coming out. You open the stopper, squeeze the ball, the close the stopper. This creates a vacuum, removing excess fluid. After a few hours, some liquid fills the reservoir – you open the stopper, drain it, then repeat. The flow on this has gone to basically nothing, which is great.

Today, Trish, one of the proprietors here at Cocoon house (who is also an OR nurse for Dr. O) who was there for my surgery stopped by to check in on us. First off, she’s ultra nice. (Beyond super nice – ultra nice). She was there to greet me yesterday pre-op, and was in the room for surgery. She said that I might have extra drainage because of my pre-existing chest issue from surgery twenty years ago. Adhesions and all that. I guess it was more work than usual to get the implants in place given the scarring. However, looks like the extra drainage isn’t coming to pass. Nevertheless, these drains get removed on Thursday when I’m in surgery #2. Trish also said that my new breasts were “fabulous”. We’ll see! (She’s seen them, I haven’t – because she saw them pre-wrap.)

I’ve been able to cut down on the pain meds, and have generally felt like a person today. Yesterday is a blur. The entry post surgery on the blog was a mess. I couldn’t type. Took forever, and I’m sure there are plenty of errors.

I continue to get calls, email and IMs of support, both from friends, and most surprisingly from strangers, or people who I only met once or twice.  My faith in (most) of humanity, if not restored, is at least boosted. You folks, and you know who you are, rock! You made my day.

We had dinner tonight with Anh’s brother James, at Absinthe (the cab ride there was painful – bumpy and too much start/stop) (http://www.absinthe.com/), which is fast becoming my fave place in SFO – both for lunch and dinner. We had onion soup, a frisee salad, beef cheeks, and a killer steak. For sides, brussel sprouts with the best bacon ever “Neuski’s”, and also fries. I’ve not had a bad dish there.

What blog entry would be complete without some trans stuff, huh? Since I’ve been here, except on the flight down, I’ve dressed like Megan the whole time. I didn’t even bring Michael clothes. Today, we’ve gone out a couple times dressed like Megan. I just feel normal! I changed my IM to Megan today. Anh calls me Megan and “she” basically the whole time, even to me. It’s taking a bit longer for others to get there, but that’s totally 100% ok. Changing overnight is hard.

And, a first for me, at the restaurant tonight, I used the women’s room (both times). No, I didn’t stand up. 🙂

Progress… and mostly coherent progress at that!

Monday Recap

Posted in schedule, surgery, transgender at 12:15 am by Michael

Yesterdays’ posts weren’t tremendously coherent, so let me try to recap yesterday, in as much that I remember.

My mom and sister showed up at 5am yesterday and we hung around for a half-hour, since we were due at the hospital at 6.Anh and I were especially groggy, only having an hour’s sleep or so.

We drove over to the hospital, found admitted, and started the process. Fifteen minutes later, I was up in a room (which I think I went back to when I was done, but I can’t be sure)

The nurses and the other staff were just incredibly nice. You can tell that they do this a lot, because there is conscious effort to use the right pronoun. (Anh is no over to she 98% of the time…)

After taking my history for what must have been the fifth time that morning, and asking when I ate/drink last, the nurse offered me a valium, and started my IV. I always think its funny (but caring) how almost universally, blood draws and IVs are done with a huge amount of care for causing pain. I’m thinking – this is a needle stick. I’m about to get way worse. If I can’t deal with this, then….

One of the proprietors for the guest house is an ER nurse for the Dr, so she came by, asked how I was doing, and I think she was surprised that Samwich is with us, and staying w/us. If stuff gets ugly, he’ll stay w/my oldest sister, middle sister and mom (Ma), but for now, having him here is great.

Dr. O came into visit – said “Things are going to go *perfect*! See you there!”. Ok… I love the PMA, I’m in.

At 720am or so, they say that they are ready for me, Anh and I say bye (ok, it was more personal than that), and they wheel me into the ER. I had been warned to have an empty bladder for surgery, so when they got me on the gurney, I admitted I needed to go about. I was offered a “Flower Pot”, which I took.

As a pilot, I pee into a bucket all the time. Not a lot of places to pull over at FL180, plus, going up/down and slow. The “Little John” it is. Now, this is not w/o mishaps. About four years ago, flying home from Vegas, I spilled a half-full one right into my lap. Dumb doesn’t even begin… Anyway, I was soaked. Autopilot on, I took off my pants and underwear, threw the underwear in the back, and pull the nylon (and quick drying) pants on. All set, right?

No.

Then I had the worse encounter with in-flight-icing, along with moderate to severe turbulence that I’ve ever had. (Oh, and this was over the mountains of Northern Cali, Southwest Oregon and Nevada. Not the most hospitable terrain.) I was thinking to myself – “Wow, when they find me and the plane at some point smashed into the side of a mountain, I can just imagine what they are going to think about me having pants on, but no underwear, which can be found in the rear cabin. Given the dry way that the NTSB presents everything, ( http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/month.asp )  I can only imagine.

Anyway, I told this story to the surgical staff before they started. They loved it!

The next think I know, the anesthesiologist is injecting stuff into my IV, and I’m out. No dreams, nothing.

I wake up in recovery, my chest hurts like hell, and following earlier instructions from the anesthesiologist (if it hurts, tell us, and it won’t anymore). I told them, and within 5 minutes I was comfy again.

I demo’ed sitting, waking and peeing, and some degree of alwake/alterness, and they gave me back my clothes and we were done. Back to the car, drive to the house, went to the bed and got trail mix to eat, My favorite.

Shortly after we got home, I called Peri and John, who yesterday I told that when I called I needed them each to tell me their favorite joke, and they were excited to do that. I’ll talk to them again Tuesday, then they are here this weekend. (We’ll see if I’m ready so see the.m…)

In the last ten hours I’ve been gradually returning to the land of the living… I’m feeling way better. It was hard to stay up later than 8pm, and I was super close. Anyway, with my new load of anti-biotics, pain med and valium, I went nighty-night for now.

Thanks to everyone again who commented, or sent mail. Each one is like a little present, so thank you very much…

More updates shortly.

BTW, on the pictures, I won’t be posting chest pictures (lots of reasons – sorry). I will however post the Dr. O “before” headshots, then daily updates post Thursday.

And yes, I did change my IM name to “Megan” – although, as previously reported here, Michael sill works too.

November 26, 2007

Resting

Posted in schedule, surgery at 7:46 pm by Michael

Been back from surgery since about 2PM PST.

I am having a real hard time typing/spelling with the pain meds and valium.

Having Samwich here with us is a treat — just seeing him makes this easier.

I’ll write more when I can compose at a reasonable level…..

At the House

Posted in surgery, transgender at 4:04 am by Michael

Ok, I’m up.Samwich is sleeping. Anh is sleeping. I slept for about an hour.

It’s quiet.

My mom and sister will be here in an hour. I’ll be at the hospital in two.

I am a bit at a loss for words. Maybe it’s the stress, or the lack of sleep, or the fact that I feel at peace.

I love my life, I feel incredibly fortunate.

Wish me luck.

I’ll talk to you later.

Anh’s Here

Posted in schedule at 12:59 am by Michael

Just arrived…

One less thing to worry about….

In San Francisco – Almost

Posted in schedule, surgery, transgender at 12:55 am by Michael

Its 12:42 am, and I’m in the arrival lobby at SFO writing this post. Anh and Samwich are inbound on the flight that we were originally going to take.

Turns out that the plane that we were supposed to leave on at 725pm was having mechanical problems. The altitude reporting systems were inop, and they had to fly a new part up from SFO, fix the plane, and then it left. It finally left just past 1115pm.

I ended up taking one of the last seats out of Seattle on a Southwest flight into Oakland, and taking a cab here to SFO to wait for Anh and the baby.

Should only be a little more time, then we’ll cab it to the place we are staying, then shortly thereafter we’ll be off to the hospital. My mom and sister are coming over at 5 to say hi, then stay w/the baby while Anh comes with me.

Like we all needed more stress.

I have surgery #1 in less than six hours, and I’m now NPO – which sucks because my mouth feels like cotton, and boy, would I love a beer right about now. No can do.

Saying bye to Peri and John before we left was harder than I thought. We were all upset, John especially.

He said to me (and I almost lost it completely)

“Daddy, when I get older, I want to find out why this happens, so I can invent a way to make it go away so that you are the same old Daddy as before.”

I gave him a big hug, told him that I was the same Daddy as always, but I’d look a little different, and gave him another hug. I also stole his nose, and told him I’d have to borrow his for a while, because mine wasn’t going to work well for a while. He smiled at that.

Its still hard thinking about the impact that this is having on those that I love the most.

I really appreciate all of the kind mails that people have sent – both friends, strangers, and people who I met once or twice in some wayward place. I can’t tell you how much it means to me.

I’ll probably post one more time before we leave for the hospital, and then again after I’m back at the house tomorrow (Monday) afternoon late.

Today will be interesting.

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