Minoxidil Day I

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Considering it´s been only two years on testosterone (on July the 26th), I can grow pretty decent facial hair. I already had a bit of a goatee going on Pre-T, which started to spread at about six to eight months; after came the neck-beard and then finally sideburns at about one and a half year in.

I have an okay soul patch (patch below the lip), but any hair on the upper lip has been reluctant to sprout. It is sprouting alright, but barely visible and lingering only on the corners of my lip, which gives me an disorderly look. My practice has been to trim it  before it gets out of control.

Basically, I can grow a beard… it just takes a very long time. Generally, a boy will start to develop facial hair in his teenage years, with real beard development kicking in much later, mid-twenties to early thirties. So I could just sit back and wait about ten or fifteen years.

But I am thirty now. Also, I missed out on having a beard my entire life. Among a lot of other things, like those wild early twenties and gaining experience with girls. So I have decided that I have earned this. Whether the beard decides to show up or not is up to my genes, but I have good faith in it.

I have been looking into Minoxidil for quite a long time now and there were always reasons not to get it, among which the finance aspect. However I got a small break where that´s concerned and so I decided to go ahead and purchase it. Not easy, considering you can only get it with a prescription.

I asked my doc but she wouldn´t go along – even when formulated as a hairline issue – she thought it was a kind of snake oil (sold for profit, rather than effect). Minoxidil has been proven to work, both scientifically (for receding hairlines) and not so scientifically, on beards.

Thankfully there are other ways, so I looked for it and found a seller trustworthy enough to buy from (I went on a site similar to ebay, be sure to check their reviews and whether their information/bank account/telephone number has been validated). I got myself six bottles, enough for six months of use.

I will update here from time to time, though in the first months of use there probably won´t be much to document, as the hairs go through a shedding phase and new follicles have to “instate” themselves. Things should start to show some change after the four month mark – I´m excited!

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Hormone Blockers

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So things are going along, slowly, very slowly… some progress has been made in my judicial fight for surgery, but none worthy of a post. In other news, the endocrinologist gave me a whole list of things to be checked after he wrote out a prescription for testosterone, and which I also checked when I started T in 2016.

Back then, the only reason I had all those checked was for administrative reasons and to see if I was healthy, overall. There was no one with any sort of insight that could interpret my hormonal values – my general practitioner did not have any experience in the field. I checked them “just in case”.

This time, my values came back all great – I have never had much problems with cholesterol or blood pressure – except one thing. Which pretty much confirmed the experiences I had, and the Epic Fight I had to put up to get Shark Week to disappear – my estrogen levels were too high.

The problem with this, is that in most cases like mine, progesterone is used to alleviate symptoms and shut off any ongoing menstrual cycle. I tried a similar medication to progesterone and it did not go that well (see my posts Pills & PMDD I and II). In fact, I developed gallactorrhea.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, well, it´s discharge… from the breast. My dysphoria had reached crippling, tape-those-things-down-until-it-hurts type levels back then, so you can imagine this upset me – it worsened the self-harm issue I had and damaged my self esteem.

Though those things can´t bother me anymore (because they disappeared down some toxic waste bin at the hospital – yay!), progesterone is now a no-go for me. Instead, I suggested what I´ve always kind of wanted: hormone blockers. I went on a searching spree and found Anastrozole (Arimidex).

My endocrinologist is willing to prescribe it to me, we´re going to experiment with it for a while and see how it works. It´s a an aromatase inhibitor, meaning that it blocks androgens from turning into estrogen – in this case, it´d block my body from trying to “balance out”.

Top Surgery II

After my initial post about surgery (see Top Surgery-NSFW), I got quite a few reactions from people saying “auch, that looks bad”. I could not have agreed more, since the right areola looked like a thing from my nightmares. I haven´t ever been that scared of my body before.

Things started to look up after two and a half months. Below you can see how the areola progressed from the first weeks to a few months after surgery. As you can see, new tissue formed in the space where the areola was previously “unhinged” and it eventually grew back: yet it was still sticking out.

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The picture on the right (above) shows my left areola which healed without problems from the start. Although recovery of the problem areola went well, I was still concerned about the way it protruded – also, it looked way more oval than the other nipple, which had always stayed perfectly circular.

At about the four month mark things really started to look up. After filling up the space between the tissue completely, it stuck out quite a while, but through some physical magic I cannot explain, eventually settled back into the shape it was supposed to be, matching the other one. Here´s the result.

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Needless to say I am incredibly happy with the turnout. The ability of my body to mend itself after looking completely grotesque, really amazed me and I´m grateful that all my awful worries were unnecessary. I am reaching the five month mark now and I have regained complete  mobility.

The nipples still sting now and then – specially during activities that require a lot of arm and torso movement (like swimming), but otherwise I don´t feel anything. Sensation and blood circulation have both improved and completely returned, and what seemed like a post-op depression, gone.

So if you came out of surgery, and you are extremely worried, hang in there because your body is capable of more than you know – and even in very bad situations, there is a possibility to find a different, skilled surgeon and have them review your results. I for one am satisfied.

Legal Hormones!

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In my last post, I wrote how I have been busy behind the scenes, attempting to pick up after my gender clinic went bankrupt and seeking council with the VUMC surgeon for hysterectomy. Due to the regrettable stance this organization has, this might be a tough fight.

Immoral practices and strange health-care organizations aside, there is one thing that I finally achieved…. glorious legal hormones! That lab-tested, one-hundred-percent safe product, given to me vial-by-vial through the pharmacy (seriously, they only hand out one at the time…).

For those of you who have been reading from the start (you Androgendernaut veterans), and have witnessed my first steps into masculinity (see Going to the GP, 5 Days on T), this has been a long time coming. When I think of myself, back then, I see a twenty-eight year old child.

A child, because it feels as though I had no life experience back then (not true). I had no idea of the magnitude of the changes I was about to undergo – changes which, rather than just being physical, were immensely psychological. My brain just “clicked”.

It did not click all at once, of course, it happened gradually. In a matter of three years, I have gone from being shy and timid to rather confident and bluntly honest, from being extremely liberal to being a tad conservative; from loathing kids to wanting to adopt them.

In truth, I think most of these were already present, somewhere – they were just lurking, waiting to be activated. So in my experience, testosterone does change your personality – not in the sense of overhauling you, but in activating particular areas in the mind.

Not everything has changed, of course. I still possess traits I had previously – like unrelenting stubbornness (which made my transition possible) and any psychological issues, which have become only slightly easier to deal with, but not incredibly so. Anyway…

Legal hormones!!

My Next Surgery

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I haven´t written about surgery or medical transition recently. Part of me has been dealing with normal life, where I am not known for being trans. At work I´m a colleague, to my friends I´m that interesting weird guy who has random anxiety issues.

On the other hand, I´m much less focused on surgery – not because I want it any less, but because I´m now used to surgery as just another part of life – no less threatening or intimidating than anything else. Which is kind of amazing, considering the  experience I had.*

So I´ve been keeping at it, in the background. In the meantime, two contradictory things happened: I got a referral for surgery, and the organization which wrote the referral went bankrupt. Yeah. Pretty shit. This time, though; it isn´t personal. It just happens.

It´s the perceived injustices that usually upset me. So I managed to keep my cool, and observe the ensuing chaos; the organization was placed under the supervision of a curator (trustee), who attempted to steer all ex-clients in the right direction.

The first thing I did was to take the referral to Amsterdam Slotervaart, where I had my first surgery (which healed amazingly well, more about that later). I discussed what I wanted, and potential problems, with the surgeon. He said I would be better at place at VUMC Hospital.

VUMC offers a type of robot-assisted surgery that is safer in some cases. Also, they include a colpectomy (removal of the genital canal), which I consider a priority with regards to dysphoria. If it were closed, intimate/sexual situations would be way easier for me to handle.

Yet… this is the VUMC we are talking about. VUMC, the organization I left in 2016 (So Long, VUMC) because I resented their methods. And, not surprisingly, they have rejected my letter of recommendation, saying “you´d have to repeat the entire process here” and “we have our ways”.

I´m not having any of that. Not only is it ridiculous to demand that I repeat a year of psychological talks and tests; it is illegal – they are required by law to accept a letter of recommendation from a qualified psychiatrist. At the moment I´m still talking to several people to see what can be done.

To be continued…

*My top surgery experience, although satisfactory in physical terms, was exhausting and extremely confrontational. If you want, you can check out my four posts dealing with the hospital stay: The Hospital Stay One, Two, Three, and Four.

 

The Hospital Stay, IV

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I woke up in the recovery, with a lingering sense that something bad had happened; I needed to see my uncle, but he wasn´t there. “Your uncle went home“, the assistants said. It was hard for me to fully understand that. I thought he´d be there. I thought I didn´t have to come to my senses alone.

But he went home all-right. In retrospect, I don´t think I should have called him. When I think about it now, I wish I´d had somebody by my side who would be there for me no matter what – who would be there for me despite myself. Having to “call my uncle back” just added to the sense that I was worthless.

I am currently not really on speaking terms with him, so I´d also rather skip the scene where he came back in for a short visit. I am not entirely clear about what happened anyway – I was still dazed and groggy. I tried to sleep, but it didn´t go so well – it was a little like trying  to sleep right after a testosterone injection. I was just awake.

PTSD wasn´t very intense right then and there. Perhaps the shock of it all had evened the situation out a bit, and I was able to shift from my status quo (hyper alertness) to browsing YouTube on my phone and listening to beautiful music on my crappy hospital headphones. My grandmother´s music, when she was alive.

After a pretty much sleepless night – I must have drifted in and out of sleep – and a panic attack so intense it alarmed all the nurses – I was temporarily relocated to a “storage room” (a recovery room filled with boxes, files and laundry). I was given a chance to calm down and my drains were taken out – another difficult event.

When that was done, I was to go home (to my other grandmother´s house) with my uncle and his girlfriend, in his crummy Volvo. Despite another promise to bring pillows (so I did not have to bring them myself), there was no cushioning whatsoever and the ride back was another piece of hell for the three of us – I´ll spare you the story.

Back at our destination I rolled out of the car, nauseated and messed up. I got myself into bed as fast as I could. The next morning, I noticed the right side of my chest was bigger than it ever had been – and after a phone call with the surgeon´s office, I was to come back immediately and undergo a second surgery.

 

The Hospital Stay, III

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The moment they parked my bed in front of the preparatory area, things began to go sour, for me. Without the influence of my uncle, and surrounded by a whole flock of unknown people, anxiety really kicked in. The pill they had given me (tramadol) worked only to dull my brain and shrouded my thinking in fog.

Had I been able to think clearly, I could have said that I was not okay, that I needed to be more isolated, and I needed the people around me stop bellowing jokes at each other. Although I did try to say something, it was not nearly forceful enough – I was reduced to “yet another patient” and my experience to one in a zillion.

The nightmare that ensued was the one I had tried to avoid, when I had requested to talk with the hospital staff before I was processed by the hospital like a chicken mc-nugget, but it was too late now. The assistant poked me a few times with the IV needle. It wouldn´t catch. They stabbed me five times before trying something else.

My reaction to this whole endeavor, rather than understood, was explained away as “pre-surgery jitters”, and while my body shook and my throat tightened due to the hyperventilation, I felt diminished, belittled, and shamed; I was reduced to a pathetic mess in the eyes of strangers who didn´t even care.

As a reader, perhaps you wonder what the big deal is, or you might think that them not caring is actually good: you can fall apart and they don´t mind. But to me, this was a renewal of the humiliation I was put through as a child – they would beat me until I was crying, bleeding, and yet nobody would give a shit.

After I had been hooked up with everything, I was rolled into surgery room. I remember very little, other than being in a state of utter shock, my heart racing, tears rolling down my face. Even now, three months after the ordeal, I can´t think about it and keep my cool. Someone put a mask over my face, and told me to breathe. The light went out.

Read the last part of this post in Part IV.