Yesterday was my second first appointment. As most of you know (but new followers might not), I got a referral to the first gender clinic from my GP in September of 2015. From there, I waited, and then I waited, and then I waited some more. In November I went for the intake, and in May I had my first appointment. By that time I had developed an intense loathing of this particular clinic* and decided to transfer.
I replaced it with a smaller team of gender therapists to the North, in Assen. I had heard good things about them and the initial contact was very pleasant; they called me by my preferred name and pronouns, and there was almost no waiting time (a few weeks, compared to 7+ months I waited previously). Getting there, though, wouldn´t be easy. I´ve got a joint fracture in my left foot and crps in the right foot.*
I packed my bag: earplugs, headphones, water, anxiety drugs, allergy drugs, train ticket. Everything was in order, except my debit card was nowhere to be seen. I freaked out. This was like the gazillionth thing that was going wrong in the last few months. Was it a sign? Should I stay home? What to do? In the end I called several people and a good friend was able to come by and lend me some cash.
The cab arrived, loaded my foldable wheelchair and off we went to the station, where some people from the NS (Duch Railways, infamous among the Dutch) were waiting to get me on board the train with one of them iron bridges. I had never experienced anything like this before, so for me it was a new lesson in life. They were in a big hurry and didn´t exactly think about my position, so they rolled me into the bike compartment.
I was amazed at the speed with which they had managed to make an ass out of themselves. Like, what was I going to do if I needed to use the toilet? The toilet was on the other side of the train bridge, which was too small for the chair, and there was no way I could stand on my feet in a moving train. I asked the ticket inspector how I would use the toilet. “You don´t“, he said. It dawned on me that handicapped people live on the edge of civilization.
It takes two trains to get to Assen, and in between they need some time to move you around. It took me from 10:00 AM to 19:30 PM to go to Assen, have my hour and a half appointment, and get home. It´s not a trip that I want to repeat often. I have three weeks left in the cast and a possible three more appointments during that time, but let´s get to the appointment itself, in part two of my story.
*VUMC Medisch Centrum, in Amsterdam
*CRPS: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a disorder of the nerves that can cause intense pain, can develop after an injury