Sunday, June 21, 2015

Reflections On The Solstice

The Summer Solstice.  The longest day of the year.  Somehow it means something although I have never truly investigated it or studied the ancient or pagan beliefs enough to understand it's true relevance on those terms.

Wikipedia says. "solstice is an astronomical event that occurs twice each year as the Sun reaches its highest or lowest excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere. The solstices, together with the equinoxes, are connected with the seasons. In many cultures the solstices mark either the beginning or the midpoint of winter and summer."

I can, however, feel the impact of the solstice.  There is something about the earth and celestial bodies that speaks to me.  Though it speaks not in my native tongue so I know not exactly what it says.  The voices are louder a couple of times a year so I realize something important is going on.

2012, this was a year that spoke to me.  For at least 4 years before it came to pass I looked towards that particular year with hope in my heart.  There was anticipation for a great celestial energy, a fantastic time of change.  Did I plan the fantastic change in my life around this fabled year and it's astronomical events, or was it merely coincidence?

The summer solstice of 2012 was the day I planned to begin hormone replacement therapy, basically beginning my transition even though I had already taken many steps down that road.  I actually got the prescriptions from my doctor on May 15, over a month prior to the solstice.  I considered waiting but I was literally dying to accelerate the process of change, so I started HRT immediately. That would allow me to be on hormones for 7.5 months before my planned transition at the end of 2012, on New Year's Eve.

The solstice did catch up with me in 2012 in an unexpected way, but it was the winter solstice not the summer.  Events in my life just happened to line up for me to make my transition to living as myself (female) full time on December 21, 2012.

Of course this is ancient history by now, but 2012 was the last year of the Mayan calendar and the fabled "end of the world."  The last day was to be the winter solstice and on that day I emerged out of the void, floundering as I flopped onto land and timidly tried taking my first steps.

Embryonic and evolutionary, my transition in 2012 was like the waking of the dead.  Yes, I had declared myself dead not long after graduating from high school.  Several years before that I was overcome with a feeling of dread, a feeling that I was not going to live much longer.  Those feelings finally went away not long after starting HRT.  Life emerged from the void.

Truly my
 life began on the winter solstice. Was it a cool coincidence?  At any rate, the astronomical events of these solstices took on a very personal meaning that fateful year.

2014, this was the year I was to undergo my great physical change.  Hormones had changed my outlook and feelings inside while also making changes outside, but it was time for me to make the full transition from male to female.  Doctors would surgically (or magically) give me what I was supposed to have born with and take away (or change) what had been a source of discomfort for most of my life.

Predictably, I tried to schedule my GRS (gender reassignment surgery) for the summer solstice.  The closest date I could get was June 16th.  That would at least have me in the recovery center in Montreal on the summer solstice, having just gone through the change.  That didn't sound too bad, so I took the date and waited with grand anticipation.

Unfortunately, my father passed away just days before I was scheduled to depart for Canada and I had to cancel my surgery date.  The new date was set for September 24th, just three days after the autumnal equinox.  Yes, I felt the seasons change while in Montreal awaiting my surgery.  As summer turned to autumn I was simply enjoying the city and being with my loved ones, never once worrying or feeling nervous about my upcoming trip to the hospital.

Today, in 2015, the summer solstice falls on Father's Day.  It's been a little over a year since I lost my dad so the pain is still sort of fresh.  I don't even remember Father's Day last year, so it must have been really grief stricken. Today I visited him at the cemetery, thanking him again for being such a positive influence in my life and continuing to be with me in spirit, always.

Once again, the solstice is a day that carries great meaning into my life.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Ask Not For Whom The Bell's Toll

It tolls for me!

Exactly 2 months ago I was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy after noticing some strange things going on with my face the night before.  By the time I made it to the doctor on April 20th, it seemed like the whole left side of my face was frozen.

The appointment that day was with my new "hormone doctor," and just happened to fall within 24 hours of my first Bell's Palsy symptom.  She gave the diagnosis, some steroids for the palsy and my first prescriptions for injectable estrogen and progesterone.  Overall it was a good day, although I was scared the palsy would never go away.

Two weeks later I saw my "regular doctor" and he told me I had been on the Prednisone long enough.  After a couple of weeks on that steroid pill, both doctors agreed the best treatment was to let the disease run it's course.  He also predicted that the palsy would be gone in 2 months.  I feel like I am about 90% over it now so in two weeks there is a chance it will be totally gone, proving my doctor's prediction to be true.  Sometimes, even those "practicing" medicine get it right.

The last 2 months has been a real eye opener for me.  This is especially true of my left eye, which even now appears to be a little more open than my right. The eyelid muscles on my left side were one the things affected by this condition, as well as the muscles on that side that control my mouth movements.

The way this thing played out is that for two weeks the left side of my face was almost completely paralyzed and "drooping."  Then it started slowly getting better with a little bit of improvement noticed each week.

June 3, 2015
People now tell me they can't tell from looking me that anything is wrong, except maybe when I am tired and my right eye isn't as open as the left.  If I give a Big grin, the left side of my mouth won't stretch up as far as the right, but I do feel it is getting there.  The most aggravating symptom that is still lingering around to some degree, is that my eyes get tired or "bleary" if I read or have them active too long.

Most of the time I forget that I have Bell's Palsy, to whatever extent I still have it.  Hopefully when I go to my regular doctor next month for a physical I will be completely over it.  Some people have residual symptoms that can last a long time or forever but if it looks like that's happening with me I am going to ask the doctor to send me to physical therapy or something to finish rejuvenating the muscles.
June 15, 2015

While this episode has caused the last couple of months to be more stressful than normal and (for the first few weeks anyway) limited my travel and social interaction, I have come away with a few positives.

One thing I learned, or relearned, is that beauty is fleeting.  We never know what can happen in any given moment to take our looks (or some aspect of our health) away.  This just adds to the list of reasons (which include a history of skin cancer) why I am thinking that facial surgery or other procedures might not be a good idea for me.

Another thing I learned is true empathy for those with any form of paralysis.  It is one thing to feel for someone having a problem, but quite another to have experienced that problem in one form or another.  Not being able to move an area of your body is downright scary.  During this episode I have heard from sooo many people who suffered with Bell's Palsy, or knew someone that had. Most had a complete recovery within weeks or months but a few have lingering symptoms and a very rare few never made any recovery at all.

One of the girls in my TBN group has Cerebral Palsy and will have to deal with issues similar to mine (and more) for life.  We related on this while discussing the difficulties of applying makeup to a numb area on the face, specifically the eyes. 

I just have to realize how blessed I am, how thankful I am for my blessings and how lucky I have been in making this recovery so quickly.  I don't know what other curves life will throw at me but I just can't take any of my blessings for granted.  None of us can.


A social media app's analysis of my current profile picture.  This picture was taken yesterday, June 19, 2015.
Exactly 2 months after the first symptoms of Bell's palsy appeared.

*A parting message for those of you who feel stuck, unable to move forward....

"You have to feel it deep inside and the desire to be free will burn as brightly as the midday sun. You have to yearn to be yourself as strongly as you'd desire a bottle of water after a dry day in the desert. Drink of it and once you have the taste of freedom there is no going back."

Tammy Matthews

Monday, June 8, 2015


My answer to trans pride and trans* is trans.shhh.

Short of stealth and easier to maintain for those of us that transition in place, trans.shhh is simply a philosophy in which you live your life like anyone else.  There's no need to talk about being trans, brag about it or be ashamed of it.  Some people inherently know and others you are close to you will tell at some point, but to the average person you meet on the street you wouldn't consider mentioning it.

It's simply a fact of life, like having one kidney.  If you have just one kidney you probably aren't going to go around telling everyone you meet you have one kidney or identify as a "one kidney woman."   There is no "one kidney pride."  You may devote time and effort to assuring that those with one kidney have all the rights and opportunities that anyone else has, but yet you realize it's a condition not an identity.
There is a community where people having only one kidney can meet each other (online or in person), discuss the inherent problems of the condition and perhaps develop friendships that go beyond the bond of having this condition.  There is no "one kidney flag."

The one kidney thing is just an example but this has pretty much been my philosophy since transitioning, and I coined the phrase trans.shhh to describe it.  It's not hiding, shunning people or creating another closet. 

Being trans isn't an identity to me.  I am trans because I identify as a woman and was born in a different body.  It's a part of me but the whole point of transition (at least for me) was to become on the outside what I identified as on the inside, not become the condition.

When someone posts something on my wall about trans issues I have to say shhh as I delete it, although I do post my blog (endless self promotion).   I have to shhh my mom sometimes when she wants to tell everybody my story.   It's not really a secret but it is something I prefer not to announce or talk openly about.   People will find out on a need to know basis.

Trans.shhh isn't based on passing.  If you don't think you pass, don't worry about it. Being trans still isn't something you have to announce to the world.   Women look all kind of ways and come in all shapes and sizes.  Do the best you can and try to blend as much as possible.  The in your face "trans pride" or chip on your shoulder attitude won't get you ahead in the real world.

Trans.shhh is simply my philosophy and I am probably the only one who subscribes to it, but if you see me somewhere please don't intentionally out me or I will have to shhh you.