Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Electro Thundersnow

How do you take some snow, a little electrolysis and a road trip and turn it into an adventure?  Come on into Tammy World and find out.......

Electro Thundersnow Adventure

I have been dying to start back on electrolysis since suspending the process last fall.  I was not completely happy with the provider I was seeing for facial hair removal in Raleigh and I have decided to concentrate on getting my full face cleared at one time.  Once I get this done a few times I may be able to go back to shorter sessions and with luck that will clear all out all of facial hair.  Some people have to have many, many hours of electrolysis to fully clear the face permanently and the average is between 150-200 hours.  As of January 1, I had about 30 hours in.  Laser hair removal is much quicker and less expensive but certain skin and hair types work much better with that process.  Even then, it is not guaranteed to be permanent and many who go through laser treatments either have to do them again in the future or resort to electrolysis.  I have reported the problems I had with my one laser session, so the painfully slow (no pun intended) electrolysis is the way to go for me.

I am looking at going to places in either Dallas, Buffalo or Arizona to get full facial electrolysis and all of these places specialize in trans women.  I found someone in Charlotte, NC who also does multiple hour sessions although she is not set up like the out of state clinics with multiple technicians etc.  Seeing as it was only a 3.5 hour drive I thought it would be worth a visit to check her out and with my dog Jumper being sick right now, out of state travel is out of the question for the time being.  This technician in Charlotte  comes highly recommended from a friend and uses newer equipment that is supposed to damage the skin less and be less painful than what I have experienced thus far.  She told me she will do as much as 6 hours of electrolysis in one day and wanted me to come in for a 3 hour trial session.  We set it up for Thursday 1/17/13 from 2 to 5 pm.  Google maps said it would take 3 hours and 36 minutes to get there so I left last Thursday morning at 10 am.

It was a rainy day in North Carolina and the day before I was to leave I found out that the forecast called for the rain to possibly turn to snow on Thursday night.  Jumper, the dog, was not doing well but I thought she would be ok inside until I got home around 9:30 pm. The winter storm watch did not begin until 9 pm and it was primarily in the western part of the state.  I would be close to home and more than likely out of range of any possible snow accumulation by then.  It had been very warm in the last few days and I was sure than any snow would not be sticking, especially to the roads, until very late at night if at all.

On the way to Greensboro, about 2/3 of the way to Charlotte, it was not rainy badly but I was hit by another emotional storm of the sort I have been going through off and on since my separation.  The rock band name Drivin' 'N' Cryin' pretty much sums up what I was doing for the first 2 hours or so of my trip. By the time I got to Greensboro and made my first stop for the restroom and gas, I had collected myself and had almost 2 hours to make the last 90 miles of my drive.  I had plenty of time.  As I got back on the road the sky tuned darker and heavy rain replaced the sporadic and light rain I have been experiencing, but it really was not slowing me down too badly. 

About halfway to Charlotte traffic on I-85 came to a complete stop.  For the next few miles it was stop and go, mostly stop and creep, and I thought there must be an accident on the highway.  Once I got past the accident I thought I on schedule to barely make my appointment on time, but traffic was still not moving.  Several miles down the road at a pace of stop and creep, I came upon a road construction area where the interstate had been reduced to one lane.  It had taken me over an hour to go 10 miles and I was now drastically late.  I had called my electrologist and informed her I would be late but was I was on the way and she said she would wait for me.  Traffic started moving steadily after the road construction area but was still heavy all the way into the city.  I arrived in the city of Charlotte about 3 pm and it was raining steadily and appeared to be getting dark already.  I passed the famous Charlotte skyline but it was barely visible through the clouds, rain and fog.  I didn't have any trouble finding the business and when I got out and went in it was almost 3:30.  I was a little rattled from the hectic drive down and I noticed the temperature had dropped considerably.

The place was sort of like a doctor's office and the receptionist handed me a new patient questionnaire to fill out.  I will mention that I was not in a very comfortable mode that day.  Electrolysis requires you to grow out your facial hair before treatment so I had essentially 3 days worth of growth on my face.  I did not encounter a problem on my 2 stops to the ladies room on my way down (convenience store and rest area) but sitting in the waiting room with other ladies made me a little uncomfortable.  I went to the back, into the electrolysis room and my technician went over my intake forms with me.  She was very professional and quite nice and she made me feel at ease.  This establishment was very clean and being in that room sort of reminded me of a dentists' exam room.  Instead of a chair I laid down on a table as she covered my eyes, turned on the bright magnifying light and started poking my face with the needle that uses heat and electricity to kill the hair follicles.  They use a type of electrolysis there called thermolysis and sure enough this equipment was much less painful than what I had experienced in Raleigh.  I had used some numbing cream but most of it had worn off and she worked on some areas that had not been numbed.  I was surprised that I was able to tolerate the treatment without a numbing agent so my friend had been right about that.

The electrologist's name was Cindy and she and I are about the same age.  She treats a lot of trans patients so she is very understanding and knows her stuff as far as trans facial hair removal.  She is also going through a divorce like I am, although she mentioned that hers was a slow divorce.  She has been separated for 2 years, has been dating for one year and she just recently started talking again to her ex.  She thinks they will be friends and that is great as they do have kids together.  Sometimes getting some perceptive on what other people are going through makes my situation seem pretty easy, though mine is still very complicated.  Cindy was telling me that she could do 6 hour sessions for me, but working alone I could tell that would not come close to getting the full facial clearings I am looking for.  She seemed very thorough and said that my face treated easily but we really did not make much progress in the hour and a half of actual electrolysis time I had that day.  I left with the impression that this is a very good place but perhaps too far to be practical for me.  Cindy had come up with a plan for me to come in every 2 weeks and we could make very good progress on my facial hair.  She said if I lived in town she would have me in for weekly sessions but with the hard time I had just getting into Charlotte I don't think it will work out for me.  Once I get my dog stabilized here I am going to try to travel farther, probably Buffalo, NY, and get the full treatments I want. In the meantime I will look for someone much closer that uses the same type of equipment they have in Charlotte.

I left the office at 5 pm in heavy rain and heavy traffic, missing my first turn to get back to the interstate.  It took awhile to find a spot to turn around and even longer to make it back near the interstate in rush hour traffic.  I found a fast food restaurant that was not too crowded and I stopped.  I still had facial hair and now some swollen red areas on my face so I was not thrilled about being in public but I had to eat and use the rest room before heading back.  Mitchell was talking to me on the phone as I pulled into Arby's and he could tell I was anxious and rattled by the traffic and the whole scenario down there.  It had not been my day. I was a long way from home and I wanted to hurry back to beat any possible winter weather and see my dogs.  He told me to calm down, go in and eat and call him when I got back on the road.

There were very few people in Arby's and I made my order and sat down in a section of the restaurant to myself.  I knew I would be fine going to the restroom here so I sat and ate in peace.  I was in peace until an older man came up to my table and started talking to me about the weather.  I was looking at Facebook on my phone and eating and I only made eye contact with a couple of times.  He kept going on and on about snow coming in at 9 and making small talk.  In the best of situations I would have been annoyed but I didn't want to be clocked because of not shaving so I was really hoping he would go away, the sooner the better.  I think he just saw me as a casually dressed woman dining alone and I hoped his eyesight was not too good.  Finally he left me alone and I was able to get away and hit the road around 6:30.  As soon as I hit the interstate, traffic was stop and go again.  There were no wrecks this time, just rush hour traffic in Charlotte, which I could see was a complete nightmare.  When I got north of town again on I-85, I hit the construction zone and there were more delays.  I was So glad to make it out of the Charlotte area and all I could think about was how I was So not going to come back there for a long, long time hopefully.

As I drove north towards Greensboro the heavy rain fell steadily.  Even with the traffic now reasonable, it was slow going, less than 60 miles per hour at best.  I was talking to my friend Melissa on the phone when the rain turned to snow.  She told me to stop and get a hotel room but I said "no way", I had to make it home to my dogs and I did Not want to be stranded in a  hotel room alone all night.  Then I talked to Mitchell and he was telling me how far it was to I-40, the familiar stretch of road home toward Raleigh.  Of all the areas I drove through that day, the Triad around High Point and Greensboro is the farthest north and west and always get the most snow of anywhere along my route. I thought if I could make it out of that area I would be ok getting home.  The snow started getting very heavy again I saw a car in the left lane run off the road.  Then the left lane turned white and visibility got very low.  Mitchell told me to slow down even more and I was already in the right lane.  I was barely going 25 mph when the right lane turned white from sticking snow.  I saw a Days Inn sign on the upcoming exit.  I didn't want to, but I stopped and got a room for the night.  It looked like half the highway was pulling off behind me and that hotel quickly began to fill up.  

view from my hotel room

While I was checking in someone said they heard thunder and then I heard the roar.  Wow!!!  We were experiencing thundersnow, which is very rare and something I had never heard of.  It was very loud and the thunder seemed to linger longer than it does in a typical summer thunderstorm.  Here is a link to some very interesting video shot of the thundersnow.  This was taken very close to where I was when I experienced the thundersnow and at about the same time.


The snow flakes were very big and the snow was accumulating very fast, even on the roads.  I checked into my room around 8:15 pm with no change of clothes , no phone charger and my cell phone battery only half full.  I had to use my male name checking in because of my ID so I am sure I looked weird to everyone in the lobby.  I got a razor and toothbrush from the front desk and freshened up when I got into the room.  The I  talked to my mom back home and got her to go check on the dogs.  They were doing ok and even Jumper ate some food.  She had talked to the vet earlier and he was very concerned about her and wanted me to bring her in the next day. I was glad to know that they were ok at least and there was no snow back in my city.   

In my last post I wrote that I have always loved snow but on this day snow was the last thing I wanted to see.  I had made it as far as Archdale, NC, very near High Point and just the other side of Greensboro from where I live.  I talked to Mitchell after I talked to mom and he called me back on the hotel phone so I wouldn't use up my dwindling battery.  He could tell I was quite anxious about not being home and being stuck alone in that room.  After having been rattled by traffic, emotions and just a long hectic day, I had ended up in a place I did not want to be.  He calmed me down and made me feel better so I accepted my fate, although grudgingly.  What I really wanted was a Starbucks coffee.  I have been drinking very little alcohol lately but I have somehow gotten addicted to a bottled coffee in the evening.  After I cleaned up I walked outside and the only store at the interchange was on the other side of the highway which seemed like a very long walk in falling, wet snow.  I settled for a Frosty at the Wendy's next door and then I went back to the lobby later and had a Mountain Dew while trying to use the hotel computer. 

I had not been called sir or ma'am all day but after shaving the people in the lobby were calling ma'am.  That made me feel a little bit better even though I did not have any make up with me.  Right before 11 pm the office staff ladies were talking amongst themselves and one was about to get off work and inquired to one that had just came in about the roads.  She said that the major roads were fine but the secondary roads were not in good shape.  I started to wonder if I had made the right decision to stop if the interstate was fine.  About that time a young man came in to check in and he mentioned that the interstate was awful and he had seen three cars run off the road.  He wanted and room and to get off the road so I felt better about my decision.  The lobby closed at 11 pm and I went back to room and watched the news and saw that it was really a mess in this area.  Charlotte and Raleigh were fairly clear but this area of the state, halfway between those cities, had gotten what to us was a significant snowfall.

hotel parking lot: Archdale NC

I used up the entire battery charge on my smart phone and was bored with the tv so I went to bed about 12:40 and went right to sleep.  Two hours later I woke up and popped right out of bed.  The room was so dark I couldn't stand it so I cut all the lights on and realized I was having an anxiety attack.  It was not like the physical panic attacks I used to have so frequently when my heart would start racing and I thought I was having a heart attack.  I just felt the enclosure of the room and knew I couldn't leave the hotel because of the roads so I just felt trapped.  Michell has been a lifesaver

Sleep eluded me and for the most part I was too restless to even lie in bed.  I used up my phone battery again after getting a partial charge while sitting in the car.  At 6 am I turned on the local news and watched the coverage on the winter storm that had hid the Piedmont Triad.  Other than the mountains, I was in the worst hit area of North Carolina.  Greensboro had gotten over 3" and High Point had gotten 3.5" of now.  The little town of Archdale where I was staying had reported 5".  I later saw a map of snowfall totals across the state and the small area that I was in had circle around it indicating 5" of snow accumulation. The stretch of I-85 around Archdale had been littered by accidents including a very bad one that happened at 4:30 am when a tractor trailer skidded into a  stopped state trooper's car that was on the side of the road while the trooper investigated another accident.  It was a real mess out there and I know I made the right decision in stopping.  Finally the sun came up and at 7 am I cut the tv off and tried to sleep again.  The temperature had dropped right before sunrise and all the slushy snow had turned to black ice so I knew it was best not to leave for a couple of hours.  

Between 7 and 9 am I probably managed an hour's sleep and then got up and went to the lobby for some cereal and a donut.  I saw on the news that I-85 was still closed from the accident with the trooper but luckily it was only the southbound lanes.  I got on the road at 10 and made it home at 12:30.  Mitchell was coming to see me that (Friday) night even though he was exhausted from work, driving down from Virginia and talking to me on the phone half the night.  We actually had more snow where I stayed the night than they had in the Virginia Hills where he works.  A few places in the NC and Va mountains got 10-12" though and it had really been a big storm.  Folks from up north joke that everything down here shuts down with an inch of snow but where I had stopped the road was just awful.  Rain the day before had prevented DOT from getting salt on the roads so that made it even worse.  Driving home I saw less and less snow the further east I got and by the time I got to Raleigh it had been a dusting at best.  Below is a link to snowfall totals across the state.  I had gotten trapped in the centrally located area with the small blue green circle indicating 5".  If I had been on the road 30 minutes earlier or had made better time coming out of Charlotte, most likely I would have been able to make it home without getting a room.


I am so glad Mitchell was able to stay two nights with me at my house.  He had to leave at 5:30 this (Sunday) morning to head back to work.  This will be my first night alone since that long, cold, dark night in the hotel.  I hope I get used to being alone at night soon.  My marriage was not a good one and I wanted it to end for a long time.  She seemed to tolerate my transition at first but ultimately, like most wives regardless of how close the marriage is, she could not handle it.  We still talk and are friends but I know she doesn't accept me as a female yet.  I really hope that she does someday.  We had existed as friends and partners in life for a long time and I really miss that.  I consider her a close part of my very small family and I am still not taking her leaving very well emotionally.  This separation is the source of my anxiety and sleepless nights.  The separation is also the source of a lot of emotional distress that causes me to cry and feel desperate at times.  I also feel very lonely at home, especially at night, and I must get used to living alone.

Tomorrow I will be driving to the Triangle for therapy and she is coming here from the Triangle to sit with her sick dog.  I really hope Jumper gets better but she is old and we don't know how much longer she has.  It hurts me so much that my spouse isn't here during this very hard time.  I have to get over this and I do think its getting better.  I actually got mad with her this weekend for not coming to help with her dog.  Maybe that anger will help replace some of the sadness but I still want her to come back for awhile, even if I go stay down the street with my parents.  I just have to find hope in how my spouse ended the short letter she wrote to my mother after Christmas, the only correspondence she has had with her since leaving.  

"Everything will work out ok."

1 comment:

  1. Tammy,

    I happened to see your postings on facebook about the weather, and having to stop. I am glad that you made it there safe and sound. I understand about being alone like that, especially during a surprise snow storm. Enid, OK several years ago was such a circumstance. I am glad that you and Mitchell were finally able to get together. Too bad he couldn't have been traveling together. Maybe next time! ;-)