Friday, March 29, 2013

The Doctor: Hormone Report

I went to my doctor at the end of last month, as I reported here, but I have not followed up with posting the test results.  I went to see him on Tuesday, February 26th and I did not hear from him that week , so I called him on Monday.  He actually had tried to call me but he called my home phone and didn't leave a message so I didn't realize it.  This doctor is so cool that he personally calls me with test results and on the Monday I called him and left a message, he called me back within a couple of hours.  There was a mix up with my prescription at the pharmacy a couple of weeks ago and when the pharmacist called the doctor's office, she talked to him personally to straighten it out.  She said that is very unusual, she usually talks to a nurse, but I like the personal attention I get from my doctor.

This doctor is not an endocrinologist, he is a general practitioner, but he does prescribe and monitor my HRT.  There are some GP's that do this, but very few, and mine is a good one.  It works out great for me because I can have one doctor for everything and because he has such a small practice it is not hard to get in to see him for any reason or even talk to him by phone.  My spouse has always referred to him as my "hormone doctor" so I let the title of blog post allude to Dr. Hormone.  That's so cool, isn't it?

My everyday look in February 2013
So, I am on a schedule of going to get checked about every 4 months and I have had my hormone levels tested 4 times now, one baseline before starting and 3 tests since I started HRT.  The next time I go in, at the end of June, I will get a complete annual physical with tests run for everything.  On the 4 month visits he tests me for liver function and a few more basic system tests to make sure the medicine is not harming anything.  The last couple of times he has told me that they don't have to test the estrogen and testosterone levels, and it is more expensive for me to get that done, but I have chosen to do so because I want to know where they are.

I was very happy with my levels this time.  Estradiol was 183.6 pg/ml and testosterone was <10 ng/dl.  The Endocrine Society, regarded as the gold standard for HRT research and protocol, recommends estradiol levels of <200 and testosterone levels <55.  So my estrogen (estadiol) level is within the recommended range but very close to the maximum, and my T (testosterone) level is way below the recommended maximum.  Testosterone levels are like golf scores to trans women, the lower the number the better.  I don't know what my exact T level is because the test only shows that it is less than 10, it doesn't record the exact number when it is that low.  The link for those guidelines is located here

According to the National Institutes of Health, NIH, the normal range of testosterone for women is 30 to 95 monograms per deciliter, ng/dL, and 300 to 1,200 ng/dL for men. reports that typically a women aged 20 to 29 will have an average level of 149 pg/ml (pictograms per milliliter). A female aged 30 to 39 will average a level of 210 pg/ml. And those over 40 but not in menopause will have an average level of 152 pg/ml.

The doctor said all the tests look good except once again he said that my sodium level was a little low.  We did not discuss that in detail but he recommended me to again cut my Sprionolactone dose to 150mg/day.  The last time I was tested I had cut it that dosage because I was feeling dehydrated, but one month before this test I bumped it back up to 200 mg.  Apparently I am having some issues with the electrolytes and this is one of the things that is monitored because of this drug.  Spironolcatone, or Spiro, is actually a diuretic blood pressure medicine in pill form that is rarely used for that purpose anymore but is very widely prescribed in transsexual HRT as the primary agent of reducing testosterone. 

I love the effects of these pills because I feel that I had way too much testosterone for way too long, but apparently a little lower dose would be better for my system. I don't think the low sodium is serious at this point because he didn't seem too alarmed about it.  One of the effects of low sodium is decreased energy and I have been feeling a little lethargic, but in the last couple of weeks, with the lower dose I am feeling better.  The last time I was tested, when taking 150 mg/day Spiro, my testosterone was 14 ng/dl, which is still less than half of the low end of female range.  So apparently I am doing fine with the lower dose.  200 mg is the maximum recommended by the Endocrine Society as shown in this chart.   It's just that my feeling is the less testosterone the better.  Many feel that over time, as estrogen becomes the dominant hormone in the system, not as much testosterone blocker, if any, is needed.  I could probably do with an even lower dose but I am going to stick with the 150 mg/day for now.

Doctor visits

I have talked a little about it before, but it has been an interesting and evolutionary experience going to this doctor.  I was recommended by my therapist and had a letter of diagnosis of GID (Gender Identity Disorder), but I still had to go through the doctor's protocols.  My first visit was on May 2, 2012 and all we did that day was have an extensive interview with him asking me a lot of questions about being transgender and going over a long list of possible effects of MTF hormones.  It was sort of like a mini therapy session and I probably told him more than he needed to know but I was ready to get on with this program.  It turns out that because I was not there on a Tuesday or Thursday, when the nurse that takes blood is in the office, I would have to come back for them to take my blood and write the prescriptions.  I did come back on May 15,2012 for a complete physical with all blood work and got my prescriptions to Spironolactone and Vivelle Dot estradiol patches.  This was a good day!

People beginning transition have different approaches as to how they present themselves when going to the doctor. Some will go in wearing a wig (if they can't or haven't grown out their own hair) and full make up, possibly even a skirt and heels etc.  Some will go in full male mode, maybe because they have to go to work like that or maybe that's the only mode they have so far or it's how they are most comfortable.  I would say I started out going to my doctor as an androgynous person and I have to admit this was a little bit uncomfortable but the most natural for me at the moment.  I wanted him to see me and evaluate me just as I was at that point in my life, so I didn't want to crossdress, going in there with a wig, false breasts and a lot of makeup etc.  I had been growing out my hair for about 5 months but it was still fairly short and I dressed casually female with jeans, t shirt and tennis shoes.  I had on just a little make up but no foundation because at the time I thought it looked ridiculous to not look fully female and have on full makeup, although I was experimenting with that look at home.

At home with make up and no wig on May 14,2012..the next day I would drive to my doctor and get my first hormone prescriptions. 

He has a small waiting room so there are not a lot of people sitting around me but I do notice that the only women that ever come in this office (or practically any doctor's office I visit) "dressed up" are pharmaceutical reps.  Most women come in casual but not sloppy.  The staff asked me what name I wanted to be called.  They had me down as Tammy from my therapist's letter but my medical records are in my male name.  Of course I told them I wanted to go by Tammy and that is what they have always called me.  Everyone in that office has always been super nice to me and always addresses me as Tammy, using female pronouns etc.  I have never felt out of place there, even in the beginning when my presentation was androgynous at best.

This particular doctor sees a wide variety of patients.  He is located in an upscale suburb of Raleigh, NC and his clientele reflects that demographic.  A lot of patients in the waiting room are elderly, but I guess that is typical for most doctors as elderly people see their doctors a lot more often, in general.  He only has about 10 transgender patients and I am told a couple of them are FTM, although I have never seen anyone in the office that appeared to be trans.  On this last visit I asked him if he has ever had a patient go all the way through with him, from starting HRT to GRS, and he said there was only one, a MTF, and he has not seen her since she had surgery.  I guess she wanted a fresh start post op, going to someone who did not know her as a pre op. 

After the initial 2 visits in May I went back in July to have my basic system tests done to make sure none of the meds were harming my liver etc.  One this day I did wear my wig and full make up because I wanted to show them my best presentation at the time.  I was a work in progress (still am) but I had learned to make a pretty good and fairly passable female presentation.  The general idea was for my appearance to become more female over time, as I progressed through transition, but this one time I wanted them to see how I could look.   I didn't actually meet with the doctor that day but he did see me and speak to me in the hall.  I went back in a week to go over the test results with him.

Driving to the doctor, in the waiting room and getting my blood taken...July 9, 2012.

When I went in the following week I didn't wear a wig and wore only light make up.  The doctor asked me if I had been wearing a wig the previous week.  I thought it was obvious but I guess even with a small office he does see a lot of patients.  I would have to have had some miraculous hair growth between May and July to have had that wig be my own hair.  He did tell me that my own hair looked more natural and I told him that was what I was working towards.  He did not test for hormone levels in July and I don't think he was going to alter my dosage but I did talk him into doubling the doses for both of my medications.  He was a little skeptical but I was armed with printed information that justified this increase to the recommended doses for transition.  He listened to me and wrote me new prescriptions but wanted me back in a month to test everything. 

July 18,2012...Driving to the doctor's office on the day he increased the dosage on my medications.

He has since told me that I am the his only patient on this higher dose and that this is the highest dose he will give me.  Since my last test confirmed my estrogen levels at the high end of the recommended range and my testosterone levels much lower than the low end of that range, I think everything is good and I am happy.  I did manage to talk him into giving me 2 extra patches a month on this last visit, with the reason being the prescription was based on a 28 day supply and I wanted it to be a 30 day supply like the Spiro pills.  Apparently I am the only person I know that has asked for and received anything like this.  I have learned that we have to ask for what we want and have good reasons for it.  You never get anything unless you ask for it and I have learned that even when dealing with medical professionals you have to be your own best advocate.

On this last visit in February he told me I looked good when he came into the examination room.  He didn't perform an actual exam, he just sat down and talked a little bit then wrote my prescription refills.  He looked at me and remarked that I looked different than I did when I first came to see him and that the medicines appeared to be working.  It had been about 9.5 months since I first walked into that office.  I asked him how I looked different to him now.  He said I was more busty, my hair is longer and thicker and my skin appears softer.  I am a small B cup now and when I first came in I was not wearing a bra and had little budding breasts from herbal hormones and some Spiro I had gotten from my dad.  My hair has been growing out the entire time, except for trim ups, but it also seems thicker since I started estrogen.  My skin is softer, my pores smaller and I don't have to wear as much make up as I used to.  My cheeks have filled out some to make my face look more feminine.  I know there are other changes but these are the ones he pointed out when I asked.  On his way out the door he told me one more time that I was looking good.  I know I still have a long way to go, I am just getting going good with transition really, but I am happy with the results so far and I think my doctor is too.  Of course the greatest effect of the hormones is how I feel inside.  I finally feel normal but a little more emotional and I am finally at peace with myself.  I wouldn't trade this feeling for the world and I am never going back to that hollow shell. 

 I am finally becoming myself...

Before and after..
First visit to the doctor and most recent visit
Top photo is from May 2,2012, bottom is February 26,2013. 

 I think I look like a kid in the first picture and I should be smiling in the new one.  At my age looking young isn't bad and maybe I was tired of wearing that band aid over my skin cancer surgery scar, so I didn't smile.  I am trying to just use concealer on it now but I am still not happy with it.  I Am happy with my life now and very happy with my transition so far. 

Thank you doctor!

3/25/2013...Almost a month after my last doctor's appointment and with concealer instead of a band aid over my scar. Still a little bit of black eye on that side too, but I am happy!

Life gets better and better.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Running Again

She wanted to run again.  I know she did, I could see it in her eyes. The last couple of days she was trying to get up and go to walk, or run out in the field.  She was telling me she was ready and I knew what I had to do.  It was time.

My spouse got Jumper as a puppy when she lived with her mother in an apartment complex.  She was not supposed to have dogs there but she got her anyway.  Jumper was a chow mix and we later surmised she was mixed with Alaskan Eskimo Spitz, because she bore a close resemblance to that breed of dogs.  She was the most beautiful dog in the world and everywhere we went she got compliments and people would ask what kind of dog she was.

When she was a puppy, I played with her in the apartment but she was always known to be skittish.  She would come out and play with me then go back and hide under the bed.  She was friendly and very loving when you got to know her but she was very skeptical and quite shy, especially when she was young.  When she was older, she was the best guard dog anyone could ask for.  She would bark, growl and look mean when she sensed a threat was coming to the house, and she could back it up if necessary.

Because she couldn't stay at the apartment Jumper was shipped of to live with my spouse's niece, then her daughter and finally her sister.  One day, my girlfriend's mother's health became so bad it was decided that she needed to go to a nursing home.  My girlfriend had no where to live and she had never lived alone.  Our families would not be crazy about us living together so we decided to get married.  I had always wanted to marry a woman and have a normal happy life as a husband (and perhaps father) although this always felt totally wrong for me.  I guess it was expected of me.  So we got married, and because she did not want to live down near the coast where I was working, I quit my job and came home.

We lived in the garage apartment at my parent's home until I could find another job and we could get out own place.  Right before we got married, we went to visit Jumper at my spouse to be's sisters home.  She lived outside on a "runner" and I had not seen her since she was a puppy.  She was over a year old and had grown into gorgeous girl dog.  She was also mean as hell to anyone that was not close to her and she barked and growled at me.  I don't think she remembered me and I became a little worried about her becoming my dog, but I loved dogs and I was sure it would work out alright.

When we moved into the garage apartment, Jumper and I began to get along just fine but it became clear she was a one person dog, and that one person was my spouse.  Chows are known to be this way, but she warmed up to me quickly and we had fun playing with a tennis ball and growing to love each other.  She would not let me walk her alone, she wanted to stay at my spouse's side.  She was a good protector for her but I began to worry if she could ever really be "my dog" too.

Jumper at the beach.

Finally, she did let me walk her alone and I would get up before my spouse and walk her around the lake.  We were having fun together and even though she was primarily attached to my spouse, it was clear that she was "my dog" too, and a very good one.  The three of us had a lot of fun together.  We would never have kids, but Jumper was our "child" and one of the few things that we could really bond over.  She loved cold weather and loved the snow.  After 4 months I got a job in my field and it was located about 30 minutes from my parents home.  My first week of work we had a big snow, one foot at our home and 18" up where I worked.  I called the job and was told not to attempt coming in so we took the day and took Jumper around town to a couple of parks, having a great time.  I had not had a dog since I was a kid and I was loving time with this young dog, she was bringing out the kid in me again.

Snow dog Jumper.

Soon, I found an affordable place for us to live that was only 5 minutes from work.  It was a nice single wide trailer situated on acres of open grass ,and right out the back door was a beautiful pond.  We were really in the country here and the nearest neighbor was way down the road.  Usually we kept Jumper on a leash or a runner, but sometimes we would turn her out to run free.  She loved to run in the open fields and she also loved to swim in the pond.  We would canoe around the lake and Jumper would swim alongside us, then get on shore and just take off running.

One day she was in the field across the road and she was going wild barking at the ground and digging.  I went over to see what she was doing and she had chased a groundhog into a hole and was trying to dig it out.  I put her on the leash and walked her home but I will bet that groundhog was a little bit more wary after that.  We were at park once in the nearby small town and I let Jumper off the leash to run around.  She saw a deer at the edge of the woods and off she went.  I could not follow her into the dense brush but I could hear her barking, getting farther and farther away.  It was almost dark and we were worried, but finally she came jumping out of the woods looking worn out.  I am not sure where the deer went but it was obvious we had us a hunting dog as well as a guard dog.  Then there was the time Jumper went on a walk with me in the woods after a snow, and we got lost.  That story is related here in a previous post.

Buddy and Jumper in the pond.
My spouse called me at work one day and said that there was another dog hanging around and that he came up when she walking Jumper on the leash.  When I got home I found a playful, but extremely shy, boy dog hanging out under the front deck.  He let me pet him and was very friendly, but he was covered in ticks which were swelled up the size of grapes.  I pulled a couple of them off and then he ran under the deck to hide.  Over the next few days I kept pulling ticks off of him and arguing with my spouse over whether we could keep him or not.  I only got one response to my lost Dog ad in the local newspaper and it was a young girl who wanted this dog for her grandmother.  She wanted him to be an inside dog and to me he seemed like an outside dog.  The truth was I did not want to give him up and I cried and cried at the very idea.  So we ended up keeping the new dog, Buddy, and his name came to mean that he was Jumper's buddy.  I had wanted to get another dog for Jumper quite a while (she was about 5 years old at the time) but my spouse couldn't make up her mind on it.  Even though she put up quite a resistance, Buddy was allowed to stay and he became Jumper's dog (and mine) after that.

Jumper and Buddy had a blast out in the country.  Sometimes they would run free together and we would lose track of them.  Usually they would end up by the highway a couple of fields away but they often ran out into the woods too.  The looks of joy on their faces when they would come in from running is something I will always remember.  I used to sing them a song I made up that started off, "Two dogs, two dogs, one."  They were truly a team and when they would run it was if it was choreographed.  They were like one dog and loved their time together.

Synchronized chewing..Buddy and Jumper chewing their bones in the trailer.

About 5 years after buddy came to live with us another came to hang out on the back deck.  We had surrounded the front deck with a fence for Jumper and Buddy and after awhile this dog actually broke Into the fence, she wanted to live with us so badly.  My spouse fought me on this one again, but soon we had a third dog, Nightingale.  She kept breaking into and out of the front fence so I bought her a 10'x10' dog kennel and placed it out back.  She always lived sort of separate from the other 2 dogs but they got along well.  Right before we moved out of the trailer she had finally integrated in the main fence with Jumper and Buddy and we truly had a three dog family.  Then we moved into a house in town with a nice fenced in back yard and they all lived happily together, going on daily walks in the neighborhood and to the lake.

Nightingale and Jumper in the fenced in yard at the trailer.

At the house, my spouse often kept Jumper sort of separate from the other dogs.  She was getting older and did not quite have the energy she once had, or that the other tow had.  She slept inside, either with my spouse in her bedroom or on the back sun room.  "My two dogs" as my spouse referred to them, slept outside or in the little guest house out back.  Even though they were kept apart at night and some other times, the family of three dogs were happy together and we really were a family of 5.  We were a dysfunctional family and two of us were human (for the most part) but we were a family.  The dogs were about the only thing that my spouse and I bonded over anymore, with the exception of her loving to go to the beach, for rides and to go out to eat.  Over time she began to accept Nightingale as one of the family, but also over time, her views leaned more toward dogs not being a true part of the family.  Maybe it was just overwhelming for her.  She often told me that Jumper had "had enough" when I was rubbing her or giving her attention, so most of my focus was on the other two dogs, "my dogs".  After all, she didn't pay them much attention and usually kept Jumper close to her side.

The last couple of years here at the house, it became apparent that my spouse and I would separate at some point.  Jumper was getting older, 13 then 14 then 15.  Last November she celebrated her 16th birthday and I incorporated that into a celebration we had for Thanksgiving and my step daughter's birthday.  Jumper got a birthday card last year for the first time ever.

Jumper in the pond.

Whenever I envisioned my wife and I separating, I always imagined it would be after Jumper had passed away.  In fact, I felt we should stay together, keeping all of the dogs together, until it Jumper's time to go.  I knew that whenever my spouse left she would take her dog.  I am not kidding when I tell you that the fact that she left Jumper here and broke up the family was a part of my dismay at her leaving us when she did.  Jumper had fallen into poor health and, being very old, I new she didn't have much more time with us.  All of last year I tried to arrange a beach trip, partially because I knew it would be Jumper's last trip, but we had already drifted apart to the point my spouse didn't want to go anywhere with me. 

The three dogs, outside the fence behind the trailer.

So on December 16th, 2012, when I returned home and found my spouse had left, I was both saddened and relieved that she had left Jumper behind.  Jumper needed to be with her dogs, but I think she also needed my spouse here in her life.  We had a couple of visits a week but it was not the same.  I could tell that Jumper was heartbroken without her here and it really contributed to my misery over the whole situation.  Now that Jumper has passed on, I feel more closure over my marriage ending than I had been able to feel before.  I miss them both but I am moving on with my life, mentally, and finally ready to divorce and rebuild my own life.

I knew jumper had been in poor health for some time.  My spouse never wanted to take her to the vet for anything but her annual shots.  I don't know why she was resistant, but I had been on her for months to take her in about her weight problem and possible arthritis.  She could no longer climb steps good and had trouble getting in and out of the truck, even though we bought a ramp for her and Buddy with his little legs.  After Christmas, I took Jumper to my vet where I take Night and Buddy.  My souse had always used a different vet and I didn't think he was as good.  My vet discovered that she had a major fluid problem in her abdomen and she had become swollen around her face and jaw as well.  This situation got much worse in the weeks following my spouse leaving us, whether it was related to her loss or not I do not know.  We put Jumper on some diuretic medicine and she started getting a little better.

After my spouse left, I started staying on the futon out here in the little house.  The dogs could sleep right next to me and we stayed close together all of the time, no more separation and no more special treatment for Jumper or any of the dogs.  There are two steps leading into the house and Jumper could not walk up so I picked her up and carried her inside each time she went out.  She could not walk far and I either had to walk the other two separate, or take all three on a slow walk and then walk Night and Buddy on a longer walk later.  We all looked after Jumper and we tried to take her everywhere and make her life as full and fun as possible.

In the last couple of weeks, Jumper began to take a turn for the worse. About 2 weeks ago she stopped eating and I thought she was going to die right away.  She got a second cortisone shot from the vet's, right after he told me it was her time and I anticipated bringing her back on Monday to put her to sleep.  The next day she started devouring food again and had a rally.  My spouse came to see her again last Tuesday and she actually walked her a little ways in the park. Jumper was a little better, but she was still very week and the fluid was building up again.  Tuesday night she became very wobbly and then could not stay on her feet.  Thursday, my spouse came to visit for the final time, we knew it at the time, and I gave her some time alone to say goodbye.  Thursday night I took all the dogs to my parents house and cooked steaks for everyone.  I thought I fed Jumper her last meal but she ate the steak right up and was obviously having a good time, so I brought her back to my parents and cooked more steaks Friday night. 

All three dogs on their pads on Jumper's last full day at home.  She was swollen with fluid and tired.

The last couple of days Jumper was tyring to get up and walk.  I know she wanted to be able to walk again but something told me she wanted to run again.  I pictured her out in the fields in the country running as fast as she could and looking so free and happy.  She looked at me and I could see it in her eyes.  She wanted to run again and she wanted me to take her to the vet.  Saturday I woke up and loaded all the dogs in the car.  We drove to the lake and I left Night and Buddy in the van, carried Jumper down to the water's edge and sat with her.  She sat up and I held her.  She looked around the lake and seemed happy again, at peace.  I held her up on her 4 legs and she tried to move them, wanting to walk again.  She wanted to run again.

We sat down again and she looked around.  I held her and rubbed her while I cried.  A lady walked over and talked to me, she asked me if my dog was sick.  I told her what was going on and she knelt down, put her hand on my shoulder and said a prayer for us.  After she left I picked Jumper up and carried her out to the car.  We had an appointment at 11:30 and I rode around the country a bit, not wanting to get there early.  This song played on the radio and I held Jumper's paw in the back seat as we pulled into the vet's office.  The other dogs waited while I carried her inside.  The nurses sent me right to the back and I placed Jumper on the metal table table in the exam room.  They put a towel under her.  I couldn't see, I was crying so hard.  

I had never had to do this before.  I had three pets in my life before Jumper.  My first dog that I cherished as a child, Spark, had to be put to sleep while I was away at college.  Our first cat, Patty, died from exposure to the cold after going outside for just a little while in winter, she never liked to stay inside for long.  Our next cat and family jewel, Boots, died at home when I was living in the trailer.  I came home to bury her in my parent's backyard.

The vet came into the room and Jumper put her head on my hand.  She always liked to do that, especially when she was younger.  She would come up when I was in my chair and just press her chin down against my hand.  She liked to feel the pressure there, and we always felt so close when she did it.  On Saturday morning as she laid there, her chin was on my hand and I rubbed her head.  The vet placed the needle in her back leg and she went to sleep with me holding her.  I rubbed her a little more and kissed her head before walking out to the car.  While walking out to the car I looked up and I could see her out there in the field, running again.

Transsexual Country

My transition so far is starting to resemble a country music song.

I told my job to shove it, my wife left me, she took my pickup truck and my dog died.

On the bright side I am writing some beautiful love songs with my boyfriend and hoping for a happy ending....
On another bright note, I still have two wonderful dogs that sleep in the same room with me now. They both came to live with me, after seeing how Jumper had it made, when we lived in a trailer in the country. 
Now, life in that trailer in the country could be the topic of another country song, or maybe a whole album...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Driving into Destiny

This was taken on my way to Danville, Virginia on Saturday December 15th, 2012.  Sunday I would return home only to discover that my spouse had left me and also left me a letter from an attorney she had hired to file for divorce. Talk about a blast from the past, this was the day before my world crashed in on me and I saw an opening to begin my new world. 3 days after this picture was taken I came out to my parents and 6 days later, on the winter solstice and last day of the Mayan calendar, I began my new life; full time as Tammy Ann Matthews.

Little did I know that the scene I would arrive home to the next day would set cause an immediate upheaval in my life and set the stage for the beginning of my new life sooner than I expected it to be.  I was driving into destiny.

These are some prophetic words I found on the internet describing the highly publicized and much anticipated date of December 21, 2012.  It sure held true in my own life, I can attest to that...

"December 21, 2012 marks the completion of the Great Mayan Cycle, and the beginning of a New World Age. There are many predictions of what might happen on this day that, if they do not occur, could mislead many to perceive this date as meaningless. By focusing too heavily on external events, one may be missing the true significance of this prophetic date. Regardless of what happens externally on this day, December 21, 2012 is a clear marker of the transition of World Ages. This synchronization is inviting all of humanity to open to imagining, envisioning and actualizing the possibilities of gradual, positive transformation of our human culture in harmony with the Earth. As we internally align with this grand shifting of cycles we can contribute our personal inspiration and commitment to being part of this collective transformation... "

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Karma is a real bitch.  I live my life in exile.  It is a self imposed exile of living in my "little house", a 550 square foot "in law house" that sits in my back yard.  The "big house" is only 1700 sq. feet, maybe 1800 feet, if you count the unheated sun room.  Our house is not that big by American standards, especially for my neighborhood, but my guest house is a pretty good size.  I used to call the little house the world's biggest dog house.  Today, I live in the "doghouse" and I have 3 dogs sharing it with me.

Why am I in exile?  I do not do it intentionally to punish myself for my sins.  My punishment is internal and it haunts me every day and every night.  I sleep here because I have not been able to stand spending a night alone in the other house, much less get a night's sleep there.  After 3 months (to the day) of separation from my spouse, I am just beginning to possibly understand the source of my sorrow.  Two therapists and the opinions and advice of many friends have not helped me understand my feelings.  All the days and nights of soul searching have led me to believe that my suffering is caused by much more than the pain of a broken marriage or a lost love.  I have come to realize that the deep sadness that I cannot seem to escape is based on guilt and remorse.

When I got married I took a vow to love and care for my spouse until the day that we died.  I also took  a vow that I would not have another lover besides her.  I now find myself filled with so much regret that I cannot fulfill the first vow, and so much guilt that I did not uphold the second one.  Was I supposed to go on living in a loveless, emotionless and sexless marriage forever?  I felt like I was justified to experience some happiness even if it were to be found outside my marriage.  I deserve it and I still do.  I always will deserve to have love and I think that each of us does.  Maybe what I regret is that I did not leave the marriage before finding that other love, or that she has been hurt by my finding happiness.

I know that I cannot change that now and I have no regret for finding a love that really does fill the emptiness in my heart and soul.  Perhaps one of the things that eats away at me is not knowing if my spouse left me because of my transition or did she leave because I had another lover?  If it was the former, I would be sort of mad at her.  If it was the later I would be mad at myself.  I can't really get a straight answer from her and I think the real truth is she was just fed up with whole situation.  I really believe she left me for both reasons.  I must have been in a fantasy land, thinking that we could stay living together, stay married and exist as "friends".  Recently, I have capitulated to the idea that we will divorce, and that it is a good thing, but I have clung to a notion (dream) of once again living together after our divorce and share our life together as friends.  Today, for the first time, she pretty much shot down that notion, but at least she admitted that no one knows where we will be in a year.

One of the things that bothers me so much now is that this whole thing does not seem to elicit any emotions in her.  I am the one that is doing all the crying, all the hurting and has all the remorse.  Has she already worked though the pain by herself and did she hide it from me in the past, perhaps while we were still living together?  Another source of regret in me is the fear that I have destroyed her to the point that she just does not care anymore, that she has "shut down".  I see her indifference directed not just to me but to everything in her life.  Her dog, Jumper, is dying and I don't see the concern or pain in her eyes that I myself feel for the dog.  Did living with the unhappy shell of a person that I was for so many years eat her away inside to the point that now she is the unhappy, empty shell of a human being?  Perhaps my real hell is my feeling that I have destroyed another human being from the inside out; that she is as dead on the inside as I was my entire life before I came out to myself and started my transition.  Now I feel alive, fulfilled, and content with myself on the inside.  I just feel gullt and a LOT of pain about my situation and the fact that I have hurt someone I deeply care about. I live in exile.  Karma is a real bitch.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Meet the Parents

When I came out to my parents in December, it took them mere minutes to fully accept me as their daughter.  It was like they knew all along but were just waiting for me to tell them.  I don't think that was quite the case, but my personal Mt. Everest proved to be a much easier mountain to climb than I ever imagined.  If I had only known I would never waited so long, but oh well, one cannot change the past, only go forward and make the most of the current situation.

Even more surprising was how quickly they accepted the notion of me having a boyfriend.  The first time my parents saw me presenting as my true self, 2 days after I came out them, my dad expressed a desire to meet my boyfriend.  Momma didn't seem as eager to meet him, but did seem willing and left the timing of that introduction up to me.  I was going through sort of an emotional roller coaster (I still am but to a much lesser degree) over my spouse leaving and making the major adjustment to full time life in this little bible belt city. 

Christmas went by and as the new year rolled along, my dad expressed several more times how much he would like to meet this Mitchell guy I had been speaking so highly of.  I think they both could tell he was helping me through a really rough emotional time and they could probably tell that I was in love with him.  He has done much more than help me through this one crisis, but I think above all they could see the spark in my eyes when I spoke of him.  I don't see that spark myself (I do feel it in my heart) but I have heard this from other people so I believe it is true. 

The main reason I continued to put off a meeting between my parents and my boyfriend was that I was trying to give my father more time to adjust to calling me by new name, Tammy.  He has no trouble seeing me as Tammy and recognizing me as his daughter, but getting the name and pronouns right has been a real challenge for him. The same is true for my mother but to a lesser degree.  He is well into his eighties and is experiencing increasing difficulties with his memory, probably some form of senility.  After a couple more months I realized that him calling me Tammy was not getting better and overall he was getting worse.  Mitchell was ready to meet them anytime, so I thought we should just go for it and not put it off anymore.

Eating out with Mitchell the night after he met my parents.  I didn't want to turn their meeting into a photo op, so we did not take any pictures on his first night at their house.

Last Friday night, with fairly short notice, we decided to set up the meeting between my boyfriend and my parents.  He was coming to town on Friday afternoon and staying until Sunday evening.  I thought we would do something easy and simple, so we told my parents we would pick up a pizza and meet them at the house for dinner.  Always the most perfect of gentlemen, Mitchell showed up with a dozen red roses for me and another dozen pretty flowers for my mom.  I knew the flowers would be a huge hit with her and they were!  Flowers notwithstanding, he made a great impression on both of them, so dinner went really well and we stayed and talked until after 10 pm.  Actually I had to practically drag him back to my house, they were taking so much, as I had to finish washing all the bedsheets and did want a little time alone with my man that evening. 

In a moment of clarity, my dad mentioned to me that he has felt this cloud coming over his mind for the last 6-10 months and I think that is an accurate time frame.  I wish Mitch had met him a year ago, but even though his thinking is not that clear now Dad did honestly have a good time talking to him. However he did call me by my old name at least as often as he called me Tammy. As we were leaving, Dad looked at me and whispered "good choice".   

Mom was much better on my name but made a few pronoun mistakes.  She is usually a little better than that and I can possibly attribute some of that to nerves.  Luckily, my man is very understanding and he was so happy to have the opportunity to meet my parents that he not only understood but overlooked any missteps on their part.  I am just so thankful and thrilled to have them accept me that the fact that they are trying very hard is enough to fill me with joy.

The next day (Saturday) we did a little shopping and went out to a nice steak dinner, just the two of us.  I had left my flowers and a couple of other things at my mom's house, so we stopped by on the way home to pick them up.  We had a short visit but I could tell they were very happy to see Both of us.  Sunday, we had a late lunch and did a little more shopping before Mitchell had to head back north for the work week.  The weekend flew by even quicker than most seem to, but things went even better than I thought they would.  We will have to make visiting with my parents more of a regular thing and I do look forward to having him celebrate some holidays at their home.  I just hope my dad can hold on to his mental faculties and be able to appreciate and enjoy me as I progress on my journey.  I do love all three of these people very much!

Shopping on Sunday for things to redecorate my little house.  Mitchell bought me the wall sign I am holding in my left hand.  Now he has to buy all those shoes..:)

This Week's Update: 3/8/2013

In typical fashion, this week has flown by, but my parents did take several opportunities to tell me how much they think of Mitchell.  That makes me feel really good and I can tell you that they have never been nearly this impressed with anyone I have brought home before.  Of course that does seem like another lifetime now (it actually was) and it has been 25 years since I brought a partner home to meet them.  That would have been my spouse and it took them awhile to really wrap themselves around liking and appreciating her.  In all these years I Know they never had as great of an impression of her as they do my new love.  Things are Much better than they used to be, in every aspect of my life!

Speaking of my spouse (I should call her my ex now even though the divorce is not yet final); we met this week so that she could see her dog and walk her in a park.  We also went to lunch and did a little grocery shopping.  She surprised me by calling me by calling me Tammy one time while in the grocery store. I asked her about it when we left and she said she was trying, it was just hard for her after knowing me by another name for so many years.  I was not aware that she was making an effort but I do appreciate it if she is really sincere and I do understand how hard it is to change how you refer to someone.  I think it is a small step towards progress but I am happy that she goes out to lunch and to some stores with me now.  The first couple of times we were out she seemed to trip on how everyone called me ma'am, but I think she realizes that is just the new normal now.

Jumper, the dog she came to visit, has taken a turn for the worse.  This is the dog shown with me at Christmas in the blog's intro picture above.  She has almost stopped eating and is getting very weak and sort of disoriented.  The fluid is building up even more and with her not eating I cannot get her to take her pills.  The veterinarian gave me a few preloaded shots of one of her diuretics and today I gave her a shot of it.  It was the first time I have put a needle in anything and it was much easier than I thought it would be.  With her not eating food though, she will not get better, so the vet has one more thing he can try.  Tomorrow morning I take her in so that he can give her a type of cortisone shot.  This injection has a chance of making her better but it could also make her worse.  If it does not make her better, I feel we will lose her very soon. I told Mitchell not to come this weekend so that I can devote all my attention to taking care of her.  I could really use him here this weekend and I will miss him a lot but this is something I need to do.

I am hoping my spouse will come by Sunday to visit with her and she says she will if she is not too "tired" or too "busy".  We need to give her a bath as I want her to be clean and well groomed for perhaps the last time.  This situation has given me something else to cry about this week and I do love and cherish her so much.  Let's say a little prayer for Jumper tonight and hope this shot will make her better.  I have had my share of miracles lately and I am really hoping for one more.