Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hair Removal and 6 Week HRT Update 6/26/2012

I had a one hour electrolysis session today and I thought I would include a little about my hair removal experience so far in this post as well as a 6 week HRT update. This was my 9th hour of electrolysis and she will often go over time with me and today the session was an hour and fifteen minutes. It pays to tip, lol. Its a little daunting when I realize I am probably about 10% done with this process considering she has not done a complete clearing of my face and also there is some regrowth, many of the hair follicles will have to be zapped 2 or 3 times before the hair never comes back. With electrolysis basically a needle is inserted into each individual hair follicle (I am doing facial hair) and electricity and heat are shot through needle into the follicle and the hair is pulled out. This hurts but I do use a Lidocaine/Prilocaine cream I got from my doctor to numb the areas but its still uncomfortable at best. Honestly, the only time I ever question "what the heck am I doing?" in my transition is during these one hour sessions. I did try laser hair removal initially which would have been much less time consuming, less expensive and less painful but I would have still had to do some electrolysis for the grey hairs that are not affected by laser. My laser session on December 6th last year was a disaster and I will write another post about it eventually. Suffice it to say I did see some positive effects as far as hair removal but they were temporary and I had a bad skin reaction that I am still treating to some degree through the end of next month. So far at least the electrolysis has not had lasting negative effects except for some redness and puffiness that might last as much as a day or two after each session.
Some people will have to do 200 hours or more of electrolysis to completely kill all facial hair and some more like 50 to 60. My facial hair is not too thick and I am guessing the total needed will be 90 to 100 hours but its too soon to tell and I will keep updating here. I initially have been trying to do 3-4 hours a month but I am going to try to double that starting this summer as I do not want to have any beard when I go full time. That may not be realistic but I at least want most of it gone by that time and one of the worst things about getting electrolysis is you cannot shave for a day or two before each session and I am not trying to be the bearded lady, lol.

Me on the night before going to the doctor to get my first hormone prescriptions.

6 weeks ago today I put on my first estrogen patch. I was prescribed a 0.1mg patch changed twice weekly and 100 mg of Spironolactone daily taken orally. Before I do my update on HRT effects I want to go into what I was doing prior to getting the prescription. The first week of November 2011 I started the Flat to Fem herbal program for herbal breast enhancement and I was definitely flat when I started. There was not enough tissue there to create good cleavage. About a month prior to that I began taking several of the herbs in the program, namely Fenugreek, Red Clover and Saw Palmetto and I had been taking Saw Palmetto alone for several years although I was only taking one a day and with the program I was taking an upwards of 9 Saw Palmetto tablets daily. This program introduces phytoestrogen (plant based herbs) into the system and uses the Saw Palmetto to block testosterone and the testosterone blocker here seems to be the weak link from my experience. I did add the most powerful phytoestrogen PM (Pueraria mirifica) to the mix in January of this year and fate dealt me a nice card in that I stumbled across a prescription bottle of Spironolactone I was told to dispose of with some medicines one doctor had given a family member and his other doctor's did not want him to take. Spironolactone is made as a diuretic/blood pressure drug and it serves a secondary purpose of being the top prescribed testosterone blocker for transgender patients in the USA. Other countries often use other drugs to block T but almost everyone on HRT in the USA takes Spiro. I began taking 25mg of the Spiro and then another bottle of it came in and "disposed" of that one too. Knowing about when I would be getting my HRT prescription I figured I had enough of the Spiro to take 50mg a day and sure enough I had enough to take that dosage until May 14 the day before seeing my doctor. I did disclose everything I had been taking to my doctor and when he did the checkup he noticed I had some breast growth before I even took my t shirt off.

My therapist had told me that it was positive I was taking herbal estrogens as they help "wake up" the hormone receptors to estrogen when you begin HRT. I don't know the specifics of that but I do believe because of my herbal program and my 2.5 months of basically a half dose of Spiro helped me get faster effects from the hormones, especially with breast growth. The effects of the herbal program were very miniumal until I added the Spiro. By the first of the year I still did not have "breasts" but I did have swelling of the tissue and it was March and especially April before I noticed any real growth. I had a spurt in April where my breasts got very sore and a hardness formed behind each nipple and the mass began growing. That seemed to slack off by May. The first 2 weeks on hormones as my body adjusted to the changeover all the soreness went away and any growth stopped. In the lat 4 weeks some of the soreness has come back and they seem to have started growing again with the biggest change I have noticed being a change in shape. The herbs had made my breasts swell out and grow but the shape was not as feminine, not "man boobs or moobs" but not the female shape that seems to be forming now. I think since I have started HRT I have more shape morphing and areola growth than I have had pure breast growth, but breast growth is supposed to set in from the 3 to 6 month mark of HRT so I do feel I am nicely ahead of the game there.

With only 6 weeks of HRT I have a lot of effects to report but most of them are quite subtle right now. The most surprising effect is the way I feel. I did expect to feel better and indeed I do but I did not expect to feel sort of a high from the medication and that's the best way I know to describe it. I told my therapist it feels like I have a buzz coming on, like I had 2 beers and am starting to feel that warm glow. The only problem with that is at night I sometimes sort of pick up on that and want to have a couple more beers to accentuate the feeling and often I am ending up drinking a little more than my self imposed limit.   My depression has almost gone away and that is very welcome news. Actually this started sometime back in March after I started taking Spiro and PM along with my herbal program and I was able to discontinue my prescription to Ativan that I had been taking for 7 years for anxiety. That was a pretty big victory for me and a turning point and now I don't take any prescriptions other than my HRT.  I do take a few supplements but none of the herbal estrogens or Saw Palmetto anymore.

Emotional effects have been positive and I do have a sense of well being now I do not remember having during my life. I am wondering if this is how normal people feel all (or most) of the time and if this makes me normal now. Or maybe I was normal all along and didn't know it. Either way I am happier and really excited about life now for the first time in forever. I don't seem to have mood swings from hormones yet but I did have a few episodes of crying (3 that I can remember outside of my friend's death) and they were over small things that would not have made me cry in the past. Patches are supposed to have fewer mood swings associated with them than pills or injections and the estrogen is distributed at a steady rate over time instead of going up and down when a pill or shot is taken. At first I really did not want the patch because I had heard nightmares about them not sticking to the skin and with my sensitive skin I also feared irritation. So far they are working well and I think I will stick with them although I am hoping to get the dosage increased when I go back to the doctor next month.

Other effects have been more subtle so far but I have noticed a little more tightness in my jeans in the butt and hip areas. I cannot tell if I am really growing there or not not but I think I am and I have gained 3 pounds in the 6 weeks and my waist is smaller so its got to be going somewhere. I am able to wear size 8 jeans now (some are still 10) and I am noticing some loss of muscle mass in my arms and shoulders, a welcome relief.   Mucle reduction should cause weight loss so i must be adding a little fat as well as experiencing fat redistribution and more curves will be great but i need to get a check on this before I gain any more weight.  My wife has noticed some changes in my face (she says it looks more sculpted) and I think it is my cheeks getting a little more full. It could also be from the electrolysis but my therapist says she can tell I am on estrogen by looking at the area from my cheeks through my eyes. Both of them say I am glowing and I do notice my skin is a bit more radiant like I am wearing a light powder foundation when i am not wearing any. Anybody I ever met that is on hormones always tells me their skin is softer and they often want you to touch their skin to see how soft it is. My reaction was usually, wow that's how mine feels anyway.  I have always had soft skin so this effect has been harder for me to notice but finally after 6 weeks I do notice it is a little softer but if I was not looking for it I might not notice. I guess I was blessed with naturally soft skin but if anything its getting better.

Another little surprise I have experienced is my hives skin condition has almost completely gone away. This started about 2 years ago and I would get out of nowhere clear whelps on my skin, usually arms or legs and then they would go away just as soon as they appeared. It was very strange to me, especially when it first started and I did show this to two doctors and both said it was hives, likely stress or anxiety related, and there didn't seem to be any treatment or lasting bad effects.  This spring the condition started to get better and now I would say its about 80% better. I hope it goes away totally and now I think it will with a little more time:) That's all I can think of now, I am sure something else will come to me later but I will include it in my next HRT update in a month or so.  I still have more topics I am working on and now the blog is launched I will do posts at least once a week. The little dog is still with us and I am still trying to find her a home. She has the Biggest personality! I really like her and she gets along with my three dogs but she still has puppy in her and has already chewed up my favorite pair of heels and some other things. I am not sure I can afford to keep her so once again I am putting it out there, if you have a good home and need a great dog let me know. That's all for now from Tammy World and I hope everyone has a great a week and please stay tuned....

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Welcome To Tammy World

This past winter as I planned out my year's goals I decided to start a blog and had a target date to launch it on June 21, 2012.  This is usually the summer solstice but the solsitce was actually yesterday.  I did get an early start on the blog and I am glad, I have had some good feedback on it and I am always open to new ideas and feedback for my blog.  Anyone wanting to contact me can email me at tammy.matthews1@yahoo.com or this gmail address and I have had several people tell me they could not comment or post here because they were not signed up for Blogger.  Now I have the comments turned on so i beleive anyone can comment here. So today is June 21st and I am officially launching my blog!  My name is Tammy Matthews and welcome to Tammy World 2012!!

So here I am entering the blog world after a long history of writer's block dating back to high school.  That in itself can be the subject of another post and rather than give a long introduction and history let me just set the scene for you as things are now and fill in the blanks on myself and anything historical as we go along.  After hiding from/escaping the female inside me for the better part of my life, I began to explore my inner self almost 8 years ago.  I had always wanted to explore my female side as I saw it, but fear and my conditioning as a child to reject my femininity had held me back and that repression led to self destructive behavior and a very empty, depressed life.  Also I knew that once that door inside was opened there would be no turning back and my life would never be the same.  I was right about that and except for the first weekend I bought female clothes and threw them away on Monday I have never purged.  The next weekend I had an opportunity I bought a small basic wardrobe as well as a wig and makeup and my journey forward has been steady since then.  I guess my journey started in preschool playing with my mom's clothes and make up but I will consider it having started that weekend, at least this leg of my journey or gender journey as some call it.

The journey for me since coming out to myself and allowing myself to dress and present female has been painstakingly slow it seems but definitely a steady progression and now I find myself on the wrong side of my mid 40's and in the process of completely changing my life and transitioning from the male I was born into the female I am and need to be.  There is no doubt my life would have been much different and I assume much better if I had embraced my true self earlier in life, ideally when I was a teenager, but times were Much different then and that was not to be and I am very happy to finally be on the right track in my life.  I was lost and now I am found. Always pretending and never fitting in or feeling comfortable anywhere, now I feel at east with myself and at peace inside although there is still a lot of turmoil outside but that's just the way life is.  I feel ready to deal with life now instead of escaping or pushing it away.  I no longer have the feeling I am going to die soon (I have felt that way for about 30 years) and now with a clean bill of health I am ready to embrace life and hope to live a long one.  Last year when I was agonizing over whether I could transition or not I would look around at old ladies and say "Is this how I want to be?"  Maybe I didn't want to be an old lady but when I looked at the old men it was a no brainer.  Even men my age I felt the same way about, I just could not stand being a man any longer and that is what pushed me forward.  I had Wanted to transition every since I first embraced myself at 40 and fantasized about it all my life but now I Needed to and that made all the difference.

They say that is the difference in those who are transsexual and actually transition and those that do not.  If it becomes a matter of need you will do it no matter how hard it is.  No sooner than I had set my life up pretty good to have a part time life as a female with my wife knowing and accepting it and having a separate space to dress and store all my things , that was not enough anymore.  Since my journey took off I have never been satisfied with where I am and have always kept pushing forward and I do not think I will stop until I have GRS (Gender Reassignment Surgery) and am as female as I can possibly be.  Even then the journey goes on, I want to keep growing and improving myself as a person and that is something I have neglected most of my life also.  In many ways I am like a teenager or young adult, not just physically in my transition but emotionally and in every other way as well.  I need to develop a new career and way to support myself because with the economy going the way it is going to be hard.  For now I am just digging in and living frugally waiting until I can live female full time to start anything lasting.  My goal for going full time is December 31, 2012 and no later than August 2013.  I don't see why it would be that long because the only major hurdle I have no to going full time is coming out to my parents.  That is a wild card  at this point though and until I am past that it is hard to accurately gauge what the future may hold.

So that is where I am today, the general situation anyway, and I will be giving a lot of details in future posts.  Look for weekly posts here at least and even if I don't have much to report or talk about I will give some kind of update or past experience and try to keep it interesting.  My hope for the blog is to provide some form of personal therapy and expression and my goal is to share and give back to those that can appreciate it.  I know that for the last several years I have enjoyed and learned so much from reading blogs from other transgender girls especially those transitioning and I think that is something a lot of us go through when we are trying to explore the possibilities for our own lives.  I was in a lot of emotional pain over whether or not I could pull off a gender transition at my age and with my family I had hid  myself from for so long.  Plus I did not think I would live long enough to do it and it has been a real process of acceptance to get where I am now.  The sleepless nights are gone for now and I am really happy with myself and my direction if not completely happy with where I am in life now.  At least now I am on the right track as I see it.  The hormones are making me feel much better mentally, emotionally and even physically and I do want to do a hormone update so look for that very soon in my next post. 

That is my introduction and now back to my life in Tammy World.  Nothing really big is going on at the moment, just lots of little things.  One of them is finding a home for a little stray dog that has taken up with us.  This is the sweetest dog I have ever seen (other than my current three) and I cannot believe how quickly she has adapted to being here.  When I finally let her inside after hearing her outside crying for 2 nights, she just came in and plopped right down on the dog pads like she owned the place.  She would be a great companion and if anyone anywhere close to Raleigh, NC has a good home or knows of one that needs a great dog please let me know.  My older wife has a grown daughter that had left home before we got together and I have never had children so the dogs are like my children.  Four would really be too many though and with all the changes going on in my life it is best not to bring in another expense and responsibility.  Please help me out here, lol.  Let me go make some more calls, I will give her to any good home or a good shelter that will guarantee they will not put her to sleep.   Lots to do in Tammy World, y'all have a good one!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ear Rings

I get asked so much about getting my ears pierced I thought I would do a post about my experience with getting mine pierced this January.  This is something I looked at doing for some time, but I was looking for a way to get them pierced and not have certain people know it.  I don't think there is a way to fully hide it and by the time I actually had mine pierced I had already decided to go full time.  Still, not being out to everyone it was a little awkward at first but a positive move and a good way to kick off 2012.  My wife was always supportive of me getting them pierced, even before I made the decision to do it and I will say she sort of pushed me to go ahead and take the plunge.  We always exchange Old Christmas presents and this was her present to me.  I wanted to wait until later in the spring, but I had decided 2012 was the year I was going to come out to everyone and transition so in Tammy World we don't hold back, I went for it.
I will say that I am not "into" piercings and tattoos per se and its not a fetish to me or a statement other than to say I am a woman and I do not want to have to wear clip on ear rings.  Some ladies never pierce their ears, my mom included, but I think that was more an old Southern tradition as I don't think my grandmother had pierced ears either.  One day I will inherit some more clip ons and I guess I will use them in my transformation business, that's what I saved my old ones for.

What I felt was the best advice I was getting about where to get my ears pierced was to go to a professional piercing parlor even though I would have to pay a little more.  My wife was willing to pierce them herself like she did to herself when she was a teenager, but I thought better of it:)  Not being a fan of needles and also very concerned about sanitation, I wanted to do it right.  Also I had heard reports of less than ideal piercing from the little places in the mall etc.  There are not many good places where I live and none of them had the small initial stud I wanted so on the ninth of January this year we drove up to Raleigh (less than an hour away) and I got the standard ear piercings (both ears of course) and the smallest metal stud I could get for the initial period of at least 6 weeks.  You should not take them out for at least 6 weeks and the girl that did them advised I wait two months.

There was some initial shock (maybe dismay) from my parents but my mom had warmed to the idea the next day.  I told them I was just going to wear them for 6 weeks and then take them out.  Actually it was my intention to, after the 6 week period, not wear any ear rings around them and in certain other situations.  The one friend I was hanging around with said he couldn't believe it but the reaction from everyone else was positive or they didn't notice. Few will notice or say anything so a lot of the fears you may have about that are unfounded.  However, it is not anything you can hide and from my experience you can throw away the notion of being able to go without something in the holes whenever you want to after 6 weeks.

So 6 weeks went by and I was really tiring of these ear rings.  They were a metal ball and I wanted to wear something pretty.  I had been following the instructions to turn and clean them everyday and other than the initial sting of the needle they never really hurt.  Four days after the 6 week mark I had a business meeting I preferred not to wear them to so I took them out for 4 hours.  When I got home I put them back in and the right one bled and I had a hard time getting it in.  So it was not fully healed and I would leave it alone for a couple more weeks.  I also had trouble getting that particular jewelery out and at about the 8 week mark I was in Raleigh and went back to the piercing place and had the ball studs replaced with ones with a shining faux diamond, still very small though.  These also had a shorter post that did not tend to "stick out" of the ear lobe like the others had.  I think the long post is advisable initially as its easier to keep clean etc.  I let a few more weeks go by and one day I tried to take the new studs out and I could not get them out. 

It had been about 3 months since my piercings and I was ready to begin to wear other jewelry and not just the little studs.  I went back to the piercing place yet again and got them to take the stubborn studs out and I bought a shiny diamond looking pair with bigger stones and they had a back to them and were easier to take on and off.  They are also fairly pretty ear rings and I wear them all the time now.  I do like that the parlor I went to will change your jewelry when you buy new ones and they also use titanium which is least likely to get infected but more expensive.  I do not think I will need to go back to them unless I want another piercing.  It was close to the 4 month mark before I was freely changing the ear rings and got a chance to wear my big hoops and dangly jewelry I had bought.  I have 6 pairs now not including the everyday rings.  You do have to sleep in them, they are a 24/7 commitment.  Only people that have had them pierced for years can leave them out with no potential consequences.  I just don't want to risk them growing back together and having to go through the whole process again.  It takes a long time, at least a year, for them to fully heal so until then and probably beyond you need to leave something in the holes.  I know one girl who's work does not allow any jewelry that leaves plastic studs in the holes, but it must be noticeable too just not as much.

So for all you that have asked, this was my experience with getting my ears pierced.  I think this is everything but feel free to write me with questions on this subject or anything else.  I doubt I will ever have more piercing at least not anytime soon.  Some girl's have a second (or more) ear piercing and that's a possibility one day maybe and I am beginning to think about some belly jewelry in the future but we will see.  Tattoos don't interest me but if I ever do get one it will be small, feminine and in a place I do not have to look at it, like the back of my shoulder....