December 8, 2007

It’s Over

Posted in epic blowouts, food, friends, Identification, schedule, transgender at 4:04 am by Michael

(Ed. note, 830am Sat… I wrote this very late last night and was almost falling asleep as I finished. I had a lot of stuff in my head I wanted to get out – some very important like our relationship to the trans community, and the community overall. I tried to express it lovingly. Sometimes I screwed it up, and I’m sorry. I’m already in process of editing this, and have changed a bunch of stuff. We are just about to leave for a super busy day, and I won’t be able to get back to this for a bit. So, please accept my apologies in advance if complex thoughts and feelings didn’t come out ok. If that caused any offense I’m deeply sorry. For now, please consider this a draft of someone writing between 1 and 4am, after a very long day, after a very long and emotional period. With great peace and love to all…. Megan) 

As I write this, I’m sitting at our dining room table (at 12:36am – we’ll see how long I last!), right next to our Christmas tree, looking out at downtown Seattle (we live in the Queen Anne neighborhood, and are blessed by the FSM with a killer view). I’m listening to the Vince Guaraldi music from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, drinking a diet coke, and having some water. Anh is upstairs, catching up on mail. (She gets lots of supportive mail too!), and Samwich, oh the little Typhoid Samwich (our great friend Jenny is the latest victim), is sleeping (finally).

I feel amazing.

We had a great night, but a crazy day. The first set of pics from today are posted – these are the ones that Dr. O’s office that are the official “after” pics (sorry, no boobie shots – even blurred). I put these on side-by-side w/the originals taken pre-op. When I get a few minutes tomorrow, I’ll make the SBS thumbnails between 2x and 3x bigger to make it easier to do the comparo. Anh took a TON of pics of Mira removing my last remaining stuff today – I’ll create a special page for those and post those as quick as I can. (and Mira – you missed ZERO staples in my thick noggin – coolio!)

Sleeping 2-3 hours a day, but blogging for 5 – not a great combo. Not good work/life balance, huh? Anyway, I’m sleepy, but I have so much in my head that I need to get out, so I’ll do my best to not bore the crap out of anyone who cares to read this.

Fundamentally, I feel great because we got home on time basically on time (more on our flight home later – URGH United Airlines URGH). We called a bunch of folks (HAPPPY BIRTHDAY ROD! Sorry we couldn’t be there for you tonight dude… I’ll save some wine for you!), saying we were home (Oh, and Hillel – please go and tell Veronica, its time to celebrate Hannukah). We had a great chat with Peri and John, then we ordered Pizza, came home, had some Pagliacci pizza (South Philly) and salad (slowly), had an awesome bottle of Silver Oak 2001 Napa Valley (I think this is my favorite. I’ve even got some left.) We sat at our table, talked, cried, played with our Samwich. Anh even holding his head so I could nuzzle him without risking mortal damage to my face (Little dude moves his head like a bucking bronco sometimes – his fave move is the bi-ear hair grab, then the pull-in for the “smooch”, which is more like a big chin/jaw bite. But – because this move means “I love you!” we don’t care. Today, (and for the last week), I would care. A lot. (Anh accidentally – and I truly truly mean that – elbowed me in the chin yesterday while we were both mid-Samwich changing (not a blowout), and I sobbed so hard for about 15 minutes from the mind numbing pain that I didn’t think I would stop – ever.)

Anyway, we are back to our life, and back to what we hope will quickly become the new normal. While I (and Anh too!) care very deeply about LGB and expecially Transgendered causes (e.g. anti-hate crimes, equality provisions, fixing some of the goofy “gender” label problems), and will likely dive in to try to help move those causes forward as part of our overall family volunteer plan. We’ve already encountered a set of folks in the past week in person and email that we’d love to get to know more, and spend more time with) I know that a lot of people find great support in chat rooms, support groups and the like – but that’s not me, and its not us – and I don’t expect that to change. I’m not saying it’s not cool – it’s just not me. E.g. World of Warcraft – I don’t get it. Not into it. Know a lot of people who are – glad they like to spend time that way!

Tomorrow we go do a bunch of stuff about just general house maintenance (like get non-rotten food), and spend a bunch of time with Peri and John too… It should be a good day.

I was up early this morning – and late to bed. Probably didn’t go to bed till at least 2 because I was writing a 10 page blog (duh), then I got up at 5am, too nervous to do anything but write. I ended up writing a “Rants” page (At the top banner). It was a release to write this. Some people have said some not so nice things about me – on public sites. Some who have met met, some who have no idea who I am. I was and am upset that some people went after my kids, and other folks who seemingly were going after me with over-general, old commentary. I’ve been bottling up inside, and that was no good. Lots of people said “Let it go”, but I was having a hard time with it. As a result, I wrote Rants (which in the end included some fun raves – but more on that in a bit), but just before I started this post, I edited it and removed some specifics from one of the Rants that I didn’t feel was appropriate or in the tenor of this space (peace and love baby, peace and love). Read it anyway, I think you till get the point

At about 6, Samwich woke up (he’s nothing if not reliable on morning wakeup time), and we quickly all showered and dressed and also started packing for the trip home, and headed out to muni to catch the J line to Dr. O’s. Now, I’m under what Mira called the “10 pound restriction” – I’m not supposed to carry more than that for another week. However, Anh is carrying Samwich in the ErgoBaby (look at yesterday’s post for a link and our review – awesome!), and I have my laptop bag (loaded for travel – hardcover books and all), and Anh’s loaded-for-travel backpack (at least 20 lbs). AND the walk up from the muni stop we had to take was straight uphill. Now I love Anh to death. But when walking, no matter how much weight she is carrying (and we have carried 70+ lb packs in the backcountry) she has one speed – rapid. I’m barely 7 days postop from FFS, which is pretty grueling surgery. Mind you, I’m feeling good – but I have my limits. About three-quarters of the way up the hill, I said to Anh “Honey… please, just a little slower.” I was starting to huff a bit… I didn’t want some literal blood-blowout in my face minutes before we were done. She looked at me (lovingly) like “Suck it up!”, but relented, and we marched on. I made sure my resp rate was normal when we walked into the office. Bad form to flaunt Dr’s instructions to your face. (Later clarification from Mira indicated that for super in-shape folks like us, the real instruction is “don’t strain” – I would strain lifting more than 50 lbs today – so that’s the limit. One more week till I am (legally) allowed to get my HR to 140. So, our walk was ok…. On the limit – but ok.)

When I got there I excitedly told Mira about the post someone made (its on the Rants page – but it’s a non-rant – you have to read it) about the medical issues with the mushrooms. Dr. O had known that they were bad, but hadn’t seen the scientific issues – so both he and Mira were super excited. Ah, the Internet adding value again.

Anyway, I get brought to the chair so that Mira can do the suture, staple and nose stuff removal. She started by removing my head staples, and was all excited to show me. I said “Oh, those. I’ve seen a ton of those. Remember my crazy lung thing?” She said – “Oh yeah”, and then started to remove the sutures still under my nose, then the chin suture.

(Anh was taking pics the whole time – to be posted! I promise.)

Then, the big reveal. She removed the nose splint, which although you couldn’t tell from the pic was hard – like a real cast. Looked nice! The interesting thing is that she said that it takes up to 18 months for a nose to stabilize post-surgery (cartilage swelling – like your tip is the slowest). Every day is different. She said that if I didn’t like it in 6-12 months, then come visit.

Now more fun parts – removing inside nose sutures (not bad), then these plastic footballs, about an inch long, and maybe one third of an inch wide that had been keeping pressure “out” – while the cast kept the pressure “in”

Removal there wasn’t bad at all. I wouldn’t do it as a spa treatment but it was bearable. I was shocked when I saw them – just the size. Immediately, I could REALLY BREATHE. The last two days have been ok, but I felt stuffy, an was mouth breathing still at least 50% of the time.

Turns out that no glasses for another 6 weeks – real crunchy food (like the stuff I love), a bit longer than that, and running – a bit longer than that. But, we’ll still do a 3 mile walk tomorrow.

After seeing all this, Mira and Dr. O were super confident that things would end up fantastic for me…. I trust them, although like I said yesterday in this space, I’m not yet overwhelmed. I’m waiting to be overwhelmed. I’m patient, and I have a lot of work to do.

We said our goodbyes to the gang there – we really loved them and they were super at every step. BTW, he’s not just for t-girls, I’ve met quite a few GGs who go to him, and say that he’s the MAN. I believe it. Remember that whole world-class thing yesterday. Cut and paste here. These folks are not just world-class  – they are THE BEST (IMHO).

One example. I have a TON of stitches in my mouth still – all dissolvable. Guess how many I’m having a hard time with? Uh, zero? Yup. A while ago, I got a blocked gland in my lip and had a dermatologist remove it (from the inside). She cored it like an apple, the sutured it and did some sutures on the outside. I never even made it home before my lip started blowing up like a gushing balloon. I was in the hospital for half of he next days in the next two weeks getting new sutures, in the same place until I finally just gave up. Big difference,

While I was getting cleaned up, Anh talked to Tan (who lives in SJC), and she decided to come up, meet us, then have us go back to SJC to have lunch at Da Lat, another of Anh’s fave places that serves this special soup. As a result, we were now in a bigtime hurry. I really appreciate Mira in particular for getting us what we needed in time to make it all work!

Mad dash back to Cocoon house, goodbye call to Mary-Lou – again – these folks – also World Class, and just lovely lovely people. We will visit them (and promise not to get them sick again), when we are in SFO again (although I plan on no more surgery for me!). I will write a whole separate post about how amazing, smart, loving, caring, thoughtful, supportive, understanding, and just plain funny they both (Mary-Lou and Tricia) are. Thank you so so much to both of you.

We got back, got all packed up (not easy!) Tan showed, Mira showed, we loaded the car, and off we went. On the way down (and on the way back) we had a big heavy-deep-real convo about my mega post yesterday, which I was still recovering from doing…. It was good. I still can’t reread the whole “Merry Little Christmas” thing without crying. I’m so looking forward to Christmas – now with the real me! Live and in person!

Da Lat in SJC was interesting. Anh has been going there with Tan since ninth grade, and they both still know the owner/servers. The server who helped us had burned the top of his hand bad. Anh burned her hand bad with hot oil a few years ago so we were talking about that for a bit. Now, I was clearly dressed like a girl today – still jeans – but a bit of cleavage was showing – and I DO have Breasts. Yes, it’s true. I still had my fleece jacket on, but it was totally unzipped. As we were talking, it became clear, he was oblivious to my breasts, and just saw me as Anh’s hubby and Daniel’s Dad. Ok, I’m cool. No prob – I just thought it was interesting, As we finished and walked out, I made sure to zip up my fleece and walk over to him (he was sitting at the “owner” table – you know how small places are) smile, shake his hand, and wish him the best with healing his hand (it was his left that burned – reg handshake ok.)

We start back to SFO – now really going to the airport – I’m feeling better already! One of our topics of conversation is how much I’m going to “change” through this process. I used to push back super hard on any talk of “change”. I’d say “I’m just me! Same person, different wrapper.” I missed the whole point. I am different. Its funny, almost everyone in Anh’s fam says they like me MORE now. Way more. Before – colder, more aloof. Now, open, chatty, interesting. Going through this whole process has brought on a huge amount of deep deep soul searching – who am I? What’s important to me? What am I willing to lose? One cannot go through this without being a changed person. Do I sill love to do all he stuff I used to? Hell Yeah! But the way I try to interact with people and be more honest with myself now is far different. I feel like this is a breakthrough. Anh looks at me lovingly but with this look like “You dumbass. This is what I’ve been telling you all along.”

I’ll make he argument though that these changes have little to nothing to do with gender change, I postulate that if I decided to become an artist and move to the country I might have to face similar issues. (Given my family situation today. It’s a postulate – and its almost 3am, so cut me some slack….)

The other thing I tell Tan is that last year at this time I was feeling huge amounts of shame about my gender feelings. Today – absolutely zero. Ok, you can call BS on that – but when people “sir” me, or the dude at Da Lat today just thought I was a guy – I didn’t care. Not one Iota. To me that says I know who I am, am not defined by others, and I’m happy.

On the topic of happy, I’m going to drift here for a second. I’m a little scared to do this, because this *will* be controversial. I write these words though with deep caring and love for my trans sisters and brothers and those who are gender conflicted.

I was happy before I came out – successful, happy, high functioning, the whole deal. I loved my life, In fact, I loved it so much I didn’t want to lose it by coming out, and my fear (see Yoda quotes!) lead me to delay far too long. (Although if I didn’t delay Peri, John and Samwich may not exist – and that would be a shame. (see Rants))

My goal was to be happy ‘before”. Happy during the transition, then move on back to real life and not be *defined* by being trans, but by the rest of my life and what I do, achieve, and who I touch.
 
Ok, here’s the controversial bits – again – peace and love, and this is only an opinion, and I’m open to changing it. If what I write strikes you as wrong, then it doesn’t apply to you. I’m not judging.

I have this sign I made on my office wall that basically says “Fewer adjectives. More nouns. More verbs.” I made this because I was tired of asking what someone was going to do, and hearing adjectal descriptions, with zero nouns and verbs. For me, if I start my ID with being “trans” I violate that tenet, which is a deep one for me.

I do not understand going through gender reassignment if you are miserable in your born gender, AND in general are not a well-functioning person. Get whole – or as whole as possible – FIRST. Build on that strength then to be the real you. It took me 38 years to get whole before I could do this.

Before you even write that comment, I know that some people have such severe gender dysphoria that they are suicidal. I’m not talking about them. I feel incredibly sorry that anyone would have to endure that pain, and I get fixing that ASAP. (But please don’t ignore working every other high-functioning personality trait in the process).

Oh, phew. Please don’t fillet me on this. I know not everyone who reads this will agree. So far I’ve had ZERO non-supportive emails. This may change that. This next one may be worse.

In short, supportive communities are great, ghettos are bad. Please, lets not become the trans-ghetto. Lets be the community of people who happen to be trans, but define themselves in other ways primarily. I strongly believe that if we do this, that society as a whole will accept us all far more than they do today. I’m a newbie to this whole thing, so who am I to say this, but being the offspring of immigrants (Polish), and seeing the suffering and stigmatization they went through in the Polish Ghetto of Brockton, MA (late 1800’s – early 1900’s), compared to the future generations, I know that as future generations embraced both the larger society, as well as still held dear their cultural heritage, they were far more successful. My 2nd gen paternal grandmother HATED the Italians. Why? The Italians came to MA first, the Poles later, and the Poles got treated like crap. My grandparents bought a shack on Cape Cod on Dr. Bottero Road (nice Italian street, huh?) in Dennis, MA back in the early 60’s in a dune for a song. I spent many a happy summer there. But I have these memories of my g’ma shaking a broom out the door in her housecoat swearing in Polish at those horrible greasy Italians. Clearly, she had issues, but my central point is my dad thought this was just nuts. He had good friends who were Italian and Irish, and all the other folks from Europe who were here before the Poles. Now my dad, he was a little hard on the Asians, and the African Americans. Not so much on the equal rights amendment either. I thought all of this was JUST NUTS. I was not more than a little freaked out to bring home Anh (who is native Vietnamese – came here at 5) because I had no idea what nutty thing he would say about “Those Orientials”. In the end, it was ok, because Anh showed him that being a good person isn’t about your label but about your actions and intentions. I give him credit for coming around to that near the end of his life. (He passed last August of ’06).

For example, my last boss, who I’ve spoken highly of, is an out, Jewish, lesbian, who is married to her partner and totally committed. She is a lot of things, but she is an executive and a world traveler, a connoisseur and a dog lover, and lots of other things. She’s also a very involved out proud lesbian woman who is super active in the community. This is great. I know, because we have talked about this, that she has a lot of straight friends, and also gay friends. When we talk, we talk some about my trans stuff, but mostly about other stuff that we both are passionate about.

I want to be like her. I think we all should.

I apologize in advance if I offended anyone. My goal was to promote a discussion, and just put forth (maybe) a fresh POV. I’m not going to claim to have read all the literature to know if this is new or not, but I just wrote it, and signed my name on it. Do with it what you will.

I had a little problem once we got to the airport today. Even though I talked to United THREE times over the past two weeks about the screwed up way I got into SFO (read the blog post on Nov 26), and I wanted to make sure that they didn’t cancel my return flight, and I had been reassured no fewer than three times, this was not the case. I don’t have the energy right now to go into all of it, but it sucked. Here’s the lesson. If you are in customer service – listen first – talk later. Don’t assume that the person who you are talking to is an idiot. I travel ALL THE TIME. I know airline rules. I’m a pilot for SFM’s sake! I tried to follow the rules, it didn’t work. One of the ladies, and she was a lady in the truest sense who was trying to help me listened to my spiel (which was TOTALLY documented in my record locator, as well as Anh’s) and I said “Look, I’m not upset. I’m not stressed. I’m honestly giving you feedback that when someone as knowledgeable about such arcane rules does EVERYTHING right, and it still doesn’t work, then things have gone horribly wrong.” She looked dejected and said “I agree. I spend 80% of my time fixing problems that are OUR FAULT that never should happen. I’m sorry.” After talking to the fourth set of people at the airport and being told “too bad, you have a non-refundable ticket and you didn’t take your outbound ticket so your ticket is void” (by a manager no less), I asked to talk to the SFO station manager. This was about to be non-pleasant. I then decided to tell this very helpful Philipina agent who heard the manager yell at me after hearing two words and looked *mortified*) I told her the whole story. Why not getting to SFO on Sun night was a non-starter (breast augmentation at 6am), and if I missed that, my 7 months ago surgery schedule would get blown up – and who I had talked to, when, what they said, what I said. I reminded her that I wasn’t even asking for a refund for the departure leg. Its $150. Whatever. I showed her my stamped/certified Dr. O letters. She looked even more mortified, and said, I will go talk to my manager again to try fix this, I don’t have the authority. She walked down to where he was, and I saw this look of “Oh Crap” on his face. He walked up with her and I had a boarding pass, and as he’s printing it, he starts making excuses about how he has to deal with people who claim medical issues every day, and they are all lying, and they never have documents. At this point I say, “Excuse me. You never asked to see my documentation, which I have and would have been more than happy to show you. Respectfully, I don’t understand why you continue to tell me that I’m wrong when you’ve just said I’m not. I just want to go home with my wife and baby on this flight. (they were sitting and playing across the way).” He handed me my ticket, and started to walk away. As he was leaving, I said to him “You should reward your employee here, she listened, and owned solving this problem. I appreciate it, and so should your airline.” Mr. Patel, you know who you are. Lighten up.

At this point, my guardian angel has my ticket, and I have a big duffel to check. It’s barely underweight and I tell her that. She says to me “Baby, I don’t care how much this weighs, its going on this plane, and I’m not charging you. Period.”

Done and done. However, I’m not sure that I will ever intentionaly fly United again, Too crazy!

Inbound flight was 30 mins late, we were the same or a bit more.

During the flight home, And read yesterday’s 10 page blog missive, but wasn’t into my cool t-shirt ideas “Queen of the Blowout”, and also matching shirts:

“Don’t you wish your wife was hot like me!” for Anh

And

“Don’t you wish your husband was hot like me!” for me!

She loves, and has bought off on “Boot and Rally Baby” for the Samwich. Although I think he needs “Samwich” and “Typhoid Samwich” too!

Seeing the lights of Seattle on approach was exciting! We are home at last!

Anh gets Chowder for Samwich at the N Gates, and we take the train in. The FSM looks out for us on baggage, all three bags are in the first 10% of stuff coming off. As I’m  about to pick up he last bag, my cell rings. It’s Anh.

“Samwich has had another diaper, I’m going to go change him.”

“Wait, I have all the bags, I’ll be right there,.

I get over, its clear he has an up the back blowout, but he has intro-ed the bi-di blowout, Both up the back and down one leg, He got poo into his shoe. We decided to just move to the side, put my jacket down and change him right there. We did. It rocked, She really needs the Queen of the Blowouts t-shirt now.

So we get home finally, and s we were eating our pizza, eating our salad, and drinking the super wine, we were listening to “Oh tannenbaum”, and I lost it. We were both so glad to be home, and I’m so incredible optimistic….

All right so this was another huge one,,, I hope its coherent at the end now, because it’s 4am. I’m going to bed.

Peace out.

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2 Comments »

  1. Angelina said,

    Great to see you and Anh and the Sam today. You’re an advocate for precision in language so you will appreciate the fact that I’ve found the perfect word to describe how you seemed today: “exuberant!” And, I agree with Anh’s fam’s assessment of the new you. It suits you, take it easy.

  2. Angelina said,

    PS–I mean take it easy like “hang in there” not like “go easy!” Gotta like that precision…


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