Sunday, August 25, 2013

2010: Snapshot from a Pivotal Year

January 2, 2010

This was from way back at the beginning of 2010.  I was obviously happy to be dressed that day but I've changed quite a bit since then....

2010 was a pivotal year for me. 
The previous year I had made the decision to come out to my spouse and had been trying to do that for at least 6 months when this photo was taken. I had no idea how or if I could ever come out to my parents, what I considered my Mt. Everest, and my greatest fear in telling my spouse is that she would tell them about me. I also had been wanting to see a therapist for quite some time and was trying to gain the courage to actually do it.  I hoped that the therapist would be able to help me come up with a way to come out to my spouse but in October, 10 months after this photo was taken, I came out to her on my own and told her I wanted to go into therapy.  At first she agreed but it became obvious that she wanted me to see a therapist who would somehow "make me stop" and I wanted to see one that could help me with my gender issues, which had become so consuming by this time that it was seriously affecting my work.  14 months after I came out to her, in December 2011, I finally entered therapy and 12 months after that, on December 21, 2012, I was full time.  My Mt. Everest was behind me and I was much happier than I ever remembered being.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Up For Electrolysis

A couple of weeks ago, I drove up to Pennsylvania for more electrolysis, a two day session that would include my second full facial clearing by James Walker of Executive Clearance.   I talked about my first clearing in this post about my experience in June.  328 miles is a long drive but I am very motivated to get the most effective hair removal in as short an amount of time as possible, especially on my face.  The main office is located in Buffalo, NY which is 610 miles from my home in Rocky Mount, NC.  I will actually be driving up to Buffalo in mid October for my next clearing and, because it is new territory for me, I know the trip itself will be an adventure.
Big Ben style clock on a church right next to I-95 in Richmond, Virginia.  I pass it while going through downtown on every trip north. 
Traffic is almost always a nightmare around Washington, DC, but on this trip I got lucky with it.  I passed the capital area between 4 and 4:30 pm and was able to maintain the speed limit on I-95 almost all the way through the area.  I hit Baltimore during rush hour and experienced a couple of slow downs but nothing like the stop and go (mostly stop) traffic I ran into in the DC area on my last trip up, in June.  I made it to my hotel in York, Pa in 6.5 hours, which included rest stops, one fuel stop and a picnic supper at the Maryland-Pennsylvania border.

I was actually able to cover up the 4 days of hair growth fairly well with concealer, so the trip north was not as awkward as my first one in June when I didn't even make an attempt to cover it.  It had been about 10 weeks since my first full clearing, and only in the last 3 or 4 weeks had any significant facial hair returned.  Even then there had been a tremendous reduction and a couple of weeks before this trip I was worried that there would not even be enough growth to warrant driving so far for a clearing right now.  There had been a return in the last few weeks of the need to shave daily, but I could tell a big difference after the first clearing.


We got a late start on the electrolysis Thursday, which worked out well for me because I had forgotten my Lidocaine cream that is used on the sensitive areas around the lips and, for me, the neck.  I had to make quite a few calls back home to my doctor's office, Wal Mart Pharmacy back home and the local Wal Mart in York.  Finally, at 4 pm, James had made it to town and set up the equipment and I had my prescription in hand and headed over to the house he works out of when in the York area.  Even with the late start, we got a couple of hours in that first day.

By mid afternoon Friday my face had been completely cleared of hair.  A total of almost 9,000 hairs removed in 6 hours of electrolysis.  That is almost 1500 hairs per hour and I understand the industry average is 300-400 hairs removed per hour.  The fact that he is much faster than anyone else I have found, as well as the fact that I find the quality of the work is second to none and he does full clearings in one extended session, is why I chose James Walker and Executive Clearance to do the rest of my electrolysis.

I already had about 32 hours of electrolysis before my first clearing in June.  In June I bought some prepaid time from a friend at a reduced rate because she could not afford to travel right now.  So, this time I bought 100 hours of prepaid electrolysis for myself.  You get a significant discount for buying a block of that much time and I feel like that will not only finish all my facial electrolysis but also be enough to clear some areas of my body as well.

15 months of hormones have caused my body hair to become much lighter, thinner and be much slower growing.  I had fairly light body hair anyway and what few hairs on my back have disappeared completely from HRT.  My arm hair is very light now and I rarely shave it; I am not sure I need to anymore. I have reached a point where the hair on my legs is very light and grows slower than my ex spouse's.  My sparse chest hair could barely be seen even if not shaved.  Still, I want my chest hair gone, because that is one place that women do not have hair.

Friday afternoon I also got my chest area cleared and we started on my underarms.  Some have asked me why I want my underarms cleared because women do have hair there.  I just feel my hair is a little thicker there than anywhere else and it is sort of a pain in the butt keeping it shaved with no stubble.  I know women that have had laser or electrolysis on the underarms and one genetic female friend who had her underarms cleared with laser told me it is starting to come back.  This is one example of why I feel laser hair removal is not nearly as effective as electrolysis, the hair tends to come back over time.  Laser can be a decent way to clear a large area in a quick time, such as when someone has heavy beard shadow and is going full time right away.  But they need to realize that eventually most of those same hairs will return and need to be removed with electrolysis. 

Luckily, I never had heavy beard shadow and now I don't have shadow at all, but I do have to shave.  I cannot wait to see how much reduction I got on this clearing though and will be right back at it with another clearing in October, then another in January. 

It turns out that underarm hair is tricky to remove with electrolysis.  James had no problem clearing all of it, it was just slower going than the face and this is apparently because of the skin in that area and the fact that hairs can grow in different directions under the arms.  I found it to be a sensitive area, almost as sensitive as my neck but not quite.  I think everyone agrees that the upper lip is the most sensitive place to have the electrolysis needle inserted and it is the one area I Have to have lidocaine to make it through.  James' technique is Much less painful than anyone else I have tried and the upper lip is the only area that I really need lidocaine on, but I also use it on my neck and now, underarms. Some say they need to have Lidocaine injections to make it through electrolysis and others complain about how painful it is, but with the right technician using the right equipment I find it to be quite tolerable.  I have experienced electrolysis that was very painful and I stopped going to that person because of that and because I was getting some scarring on my chin.

Overall, I had a total of 10 hours of electrolysis on this trip, 6 on my face and the other 4 completely cleared my upper body except for the arms.  I thought all that would take quite a bit longer so I am very pleased with the results.  I did get a couple of bruises on my neck where my skin is unusually extremely sensitive but they have faded away now.  This is the same area I had big trouble when I got the one laser treatment so I am happy to escape with a couple of temporary bruises.  Considering how sensitive my skin is, electrolysis is not as hard on my skin as I thought it would be or as tough on it as it was in the beginning.  Finding the right operator made all the difference and that's why I am willing to travel so far.  I know I am going to Buffalo next time but my real question is where do I go next, on me, for electrolysis? 


I have to say that in my two visits, I have found the people of York, Pennsylvania to be extremely friendly and it seems to be a really nice place.  It's about the same size as my hometown of Rocky Mount, NC; maybe not quite as big but the area seems to have about the same population.  I find a lot of similarities between the two cities but the architecture is different, especially the older, historic houses and buildings which remind of the styles seen in historic Philadelphia or Baltimore.  I wonder what Buffalo will be like?  I will find out in October and I do know they get a LOT more snow than we get in Eastern North Carolina.  Rocky Mount averages 2.37 inches of snowfall annually while the Buffalo, NY average is 67.81 inches.  Yes, that's quite a big difference so I believe traveling up there this winter is going to be quite a "white' adventure.  Luckily, I love cold weather and snow.  Next time I will really be going UP for electrolysis.

Views of Downtown York from the Waterway Grill.

Pretty, rolling farmland in York County, Pennsylvania. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

One Cool Summer: July 2013 Update

I wonder what everyone is doing to stay cool this summer?  I'm staying cool by being myself and going out and doing fun things as often as I can while staying kind of close to home. And I'm wearing sunglasses, that's very cool :)  Not working a steady job right now gives me more time than most people to go out and do what I like to do, but the tight budget puts some limits on where I can go and what I can do.  I haven't been able to travel or go on any real vacations lately, but I can find plenty to do within an hour or so of my home.  So after a light month of blogging for me in July and my last post, Riding into Tammy World, dealing with Pam's visit at the end of June, its time for an July update!

Actually, for a Carolina summer, most of it has not been too terribly hot.  It has been humid with temperatures in the high 80's most days, nineties some days, but there has been no real heat wave yet.  I have been enjoying the longer days and nice weather (since the rainy spell ended), but have not really done any of the traditional summer activities like laying on the beach, swimming etc.  I wear a lot of sunblock and while I do not avoid activities out in the sun, I don't intentionally try to tan or stay in the sun all day.  Getting hot and sweating are not fun to me,and after having skin cancer, I try not to get too much sun exposure.  So, outside of walking my dogs and a few other outdoor things, I am staying cool this summer And having fun.

July Update

July here in Tammy World started out with my post on Independence Day, about going fishing as myself for the first time.  I haven't been fishing since then and won't go again until I get a license or fish from a commercial pier where a licence comes with the price of admission.  This fall I am planning on going pier fishing with a friend on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and I really look forward to doing some ocean fishing again.  I also did a lot of shopping in July, spent time with my boyfriend Mitchell, spent several afternoons with my ex spouse Joan, and spent a lot of time with my parents.  My dad has not been doing great and it seems he needs a little more attention than he used to, so I have been visiting every day that I possibly can.
Mitchell and I sharing some quality time at a park near my home in early July.
Sharing some love with my baby.

I did a lot of driving back and forth to Raleigh in July.
Every chance I got I was driving up US 64 to Raleigh.  I have to go every month for therapy and also had one doctor's visit for a blood sample.  I added another hormone to my regimen this month, an estradial pill to go along with the estradial patches and Spirolcatone.  Next week I go back to the doctor for another blood test to see how I am reacting to the new medicine and probably make yet another adjustment.  Coming soon, I will have another hormone and transition update, so stay tuned for that.

When I go to out of town for any reason, I try to also take the opportunity to dine out, go shopping or meet a friend, to make the trip more fun. After my hair color appointment on the 18th, I met Donna Simms for dinner and a little shopping at Crabtree Mall I Raleigh to celebrate her 75th birthday, which was the next day.  She doesn't mind telling people her age, partly because she does not look it, and we get a kick out of asking people how old they think she is.  No one even comes close and the truth is she is also full of energy and is a fun, positive person to be around. I plan on being around and being active for a Long time myself, so she sets a good example.  That attitude is major progress for me because I have spent most of my life not planning to or wanting to live that much longer.  Transition has really been great for my psyche.

At Crabtree Mall with my friend Donna Simms celebrating her 75th birthday.
Checking in on Facebook on my smart phone from Kanki Japanese Steakhouse in Crabtree Mall.
On the last weekend of July the Carolina Meeting Place Yahoo group had its annual summer party.  Mitchell and I met through that group so we try to attend as many of their parties as we can, and we always have a blast there.  My friend Lisa Lesher came up from the coast the week before the party to go shopping with me for an outfit.  This was another fun trip to Raleigh and she ended up getting a great deal on a dress from Kohl's.  Lisa is my friend that lives very near the coast and wants to go ocean pier fishing with me when it cools off.  This was also her first party with our group in Raleigh and Mitchell and I enjoyed seeing her, Donna and many of my other friends there.
Sharing a laugh with Lisa Lesher at the party.  There are also 2 other Lisa's in our group and they were all at the party, and it can be hard keeping up with so many Lisas.

July was a fun month for sure, but now that August is here the fun continues and I have a lot more on my plate.  I am writing this entry from a hotel room in York, Pennsylvania and I am up here for a couple of days of electrolysis.  Of course, that procedure is not too much fun but these sessions will put me closer to my goal and you know any time I go out of town I find fun things to do.  Stay tuned to see what all happened on this trip.  Next week I am going up to Lynchburg, Virginia to spend 4 nights with Mitchell and I'm leaving to come back to Rocky Mount on the morning of my birthday.  I know we will going to the nearby mountains and I can't wait to see what else he has in store for me up there.  This will be a nice mini vacation for me as well as a chance to spend some quality time with my baby.  Coming up in the next three months I am planning at least a couple of trips to the coast and, I'm sure, another trip up north for more electrolysis.  I am far behind on my goals with electrolysis but if I can get a couple of more good trips in this year I can almost catch up.

Lovers at the party.
So you see, for a"slow" month, July was actually pretty fun.  In Tammy World I usually have to make my own fun and find joy in the little things of everyday life.  One day I would like to travel and see more of the country and the world, but for now there is plenty more to see and do in this little corner of it.  That's the whole theme of Tammy World; its not an imaginary world any more, its very real.  Life is what you make of it and all any of us can do is make the most of what we have and where we are.  And the old cliche "it gets better" is very true.  No matter
where you are or what you are doing, even if you are in pain, it can and will get better.  Things are pretty good for me now but I know they are going to get even better, much better, and that will only happen because I am going to make it happen.  You can do the same thing in your world.  Live your dreams and make them happen. It won't be delivered to your front door. You have to go find it, but believe me its there.  And believing in yourself is the whole key to making it happen.....