Self-Administering T

needle

Considering that yesterday, and today, I was starting to feel strange mood swings – lots of feelings that I usually don´t have – I decided to do my shot one day early. That, and I also really wanted to just get it over with, because this time, I was supposed to do it by myself. I was nervous about it and with good reason, because I tend to get shaky.

For readers who are also preparing to do shots themselves, it really helped me to watch different videos on YouTube by guys explaining how they do their shot. This video in particular helped me because he first shows how it´s done, and in the second part he talks about anxiety and about the different ways you can handle the injection.

The idea that I did not have to stab myself with that sharp thing, but take my time, really helped, and also the advice (elsewhere) that you need to breathe throughout the process. So I injected slow, while breathing normally and then went to lay down on the couch with my legs and lower back on a pillow and my head low.

I felt a bit nauseous, but allowing the blood to return to my head in this way, made it considerably more bearable. If you tend to get nauseous too, I can recommend it, and take something with you to distract you, something that is enjoyable, like a mobile game (Fallout Shelter for me). After fifteen minutes I felt normal again.

For the injection I used a twenty-two gauge needle, as the pharmacy did not have anything smaller in stock, but you can also use a twenty-three to twenty-five gauge, although I recommend not going too small because then injecting will be very slow and possibly more difficult. To draw up the testosterone itself I used a twenty-one gauge.

In the future I might switch to subcutaneous injections, which I have read can also be done with sustanon 250. They are less painful and from what I gathered, just as efficient. I will keep you up to date, and if you are planning on doing injections yourself, don´t fret, it´s really not as frightening as it can seem.

Transition in Pictures

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It´s almost been a year on testosterone. I´ve experienced countless changes, among which changes that are immediately apparent and smaller changes that are not immediately apparent. The ones that are impossible to miss are in the amount of body hair, my voice, muscle mass, general mental stability and sexuality.

To guarantee the anonymity of my blog I will not be sharing any whole-body changes that include my face, but I´ve added a close-up of my “beard” and a picture of my chest, as well as legs and belly. Due to the KT tape I usually wear, my chest is shaven on the picture so you can´t see hair growth there.

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I know, I don´t actually have a lot of chest going on, which explains why sometimes the dysphoria is manageable, although it hasn´t been manageable in quite a while. There´s people out there who unfortunately have more chest going on than me, and I hope they don´t begrudge me the fact that I get extreme dysphoria now and then.

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Muscle wise, things are well defined. I was pretty muscular before and testosterone just accentuated them. My arms changed ever so slightly, if I work out I suppose I could increase the volume, but I don´t feel very confident working out as long as the chesticles are there. Thankfully they´ll be gone in 2018!

Surgery Update II

topsurgery

After my incredibly short talk with Dr Lam, I hung around a bit. I was supossed to check-in with the surgeon, but she was performing surgery. So I sat on a bench, accompanied by a timid rabbit (somehow living in the middle of the shrubs in the parking lot). About a ton of concrete slipped off my shoulders. The world seemed much friendlier.

I texted a bunch of people, among whom the friend who had accompanied me on my previous trips to the hospital, my therapist, and people who were just curious to see how this would turn out. After an hour or so the surgeon was done with whatever she was doing (I cannot imagine being a surgeon and doing that as a job…!)

She sent me into a changing room so she could take a look at my preposterous chest (my wording) and confirmed that I could have peri-aureolar surgery, which is a method for “medium-size-chest” where they basically take the nipples off the manboobs, scoop out the excess fat, and then sow it back togheter. Are you cringing yet?

She gave me some tape to replace the KT tape I had been wearing, and said “well, you´re free to go home!“. I had been placed on the waiting list and the next step would be to well… wait. How long the wait will be, depends on a couple of things and a letter, signed by about fifty transguys, that I still need to send to the board of the hospital.

The journey home was a mish-mash of different emotions. I was relieved, but also sad and angry. Angry that it had to take this much, angry that gender therapists had lied to me about needing their specific and express permission first, and angry that in the end, I did it all by myself. The gender therapists had not helped at all.

The problem with transition is that it´s yours, and yours only. When people start depicting it as a common process (i.e the decision of you and your therapist), it´s easy to get confused and start feeling dependent on other people. Don´t. You run the show, you decide, and you get it done. Yippee Ki Yay, Motherf*cker.

Surgery Update I

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Last week was one of the longest in my life. On Thursday (which is today) I had this appointment with the hospital psychiatrist, to see whether I would get scheduled for surgery. Or at least put on some type of waiting list. I had no idea what I would do if he said no. I did not think that I would be able to make it, not after this month.

I was afraid of many things. I was afraid that if he said no, it would be the final straw to push me over the edge. I was afraid I would hurt myself to a very serious degree and end up in the hospital or worse. A human being can take a lot, but the combination of feeling powerless and the constant reminders of childhood trauma were driving me loco.

So you can imagine the apprehension with which I boarded the train to Amsterdam. I was so absent-minded that I can´t remember much of my journey there. I just sort of arrived there, and went to check myself in. When Dr Lam (the psychiatrist) came to call me, I recognized him from a photo I found online (I like to know who I can expect).

The fear inside sort of balled up in my throat. People tell me that I have an excellent poker face, which comes in really handy in these types of situations. I retained my composure and nervously fidgeted with my hands while he was out to get me a glass of water. When he returned, he asked: “so tell me, why have you come to see me?”

He knew why I had come to see him. But I figured this was a test to see how articulate I could be in expressing what my goals were. So I told him, that I had come to obtain permission for surgery, plain and simple. I explained that although my own therapist had already diagnosed me, the hospital would like me to get a second opinion.

The talk was over very quickly. He told me that I struck him as calm, stable, and resolute in my desire to get surgery. For a second, my poker-face budged into half a smile. I cannot recall anybody in the gender business ever giving me such a human and honest compliment. “Good luck!” – he said, as I went to see the surgeon.

You can read the second part of this post here.

Pain and Strength

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Before I start, you need to know something. This is not a post where I romanticize pain by saying that any hardship you go through, will make you more resilient. I went through a lot of traumatic pain in my life and it has not transformed me into an ubermensch who can handle the most difficult of hurdles.

It transformed me into a mess. For a long time, I was not able to handle anything. Chronic pain, whether physical or psychological, has a negative influence on the function of your body and your brain, and decreases your ability to withstand strong impact in the long run, rather than make you invulnerable to pain later on.

Having gone through physical and mental abuse does not mean that I can handle transition any better than those who are healthy. Transitioning does not make me any stronger than people who are not transitioning – and believing so is a load of horse-shit. All it means is that I will need to process this whole experience later on.

Transitioning, for me, is a traumatic experience. From day to day, I can´t be sure of my continued survival, and I inflict physical harm upon myself because I don´t know how to otherwise deal with the extreme stress that it entails. And I am not talking about taking hormones or having surgery. Those are actually easing the stress.

I am talking about the red tape. About being forced to undergo psychological screening, even if doing so triggers old traumatic experiences, about being forced to deal with dysphoria because gender  reassignment surgery is viewed with less urgency that say, genital reconstruction for a cisgender person.

If I survive this, if somehow I make it through, this is not a statement about my personality. If anything, it is a testimony to how ridiculously difficult transition becomes when third parties, such as insurance companies, are allowed to interfere in the process and demand that someone´s gender identity be psychologically tested.

 

Think Good Thoughts

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It´s been four months since I approached doctor Van Loenen for top surgery. I sent her a lengthy letter describing my confrontations with each gender therapist I went to, and informing her about my run with my own therapist. Plans to get a hysterectomy during the same operation failed (see my post from May 17).

As you might know by now (it´s all I ever talk about) I had an extensive check-up of my medical background at the hospital, and another one for hysto, which I will continue to fight for at a later time. Sadly, the surgeon´s office called me to inform me Van Loenen did not think the recommendation from my therapist was enough.

Following her statement I experienced a week of nervous meltdown, suicidal thoughts and self harm. I had no idea what to do next, but my Facebook friends, who are wise and hardened by transition, encouraged me to contact the hospital psychiatrist. My appointment with him is next week, and I´ll have one more chat with the surgeon.

So… all things considered… I´m feeling extremely agitated. My head is just repeating prayers in a loop. Please please get me on that unholy and desperately needed surgery list. /screaming/. Once I am on that list, dealing with my chest will, I think, become just a little bit easier. Because I will know for sure that the things will be gone.

I feel as though my transition, up to this point, has been extremely slow – there have been confrontations, misunderstandings, and frustration a plenty. Sometimes I wonder if, on some level, I am unconsciously sabotaging myself. By being afraid that things will somehow go wrong, again. I don´t want that to happen this time.

I´m not going to think anything negative at all. I´m going to hang on to every shred of hope that I can scrape together, I am going to get this freaking surgery by spring 2018 and I´m going to be successful with the gender therapist I have now. No more fear of things turning out awful. Wish me luck…!

Third Therapist II

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She struck me by surprise. She did not seem very therapist-like to me. Rather, she reminded me of a crossover between a young secretary (picture young, blond, sitting on desk instead of behind it) and Estelle Leonard from Friends. If you don´t know who Estelle Leonard is (was), go watch Friends now!

The thing is, therapists usually all kind of wear the same thing. My dad, a university teacher, used to wear tweed jackets with leather patches. Yes, really. Therapists and shrinks are equally predictable. When they graduate from university, they like to wear a formal attire, that is stylish yet casual.  Sober type of clothes.

My new therapist was wearing a white attire with gold jewelry, brown stockings and shiny white pumps. Her face was heavily decorated with mascara, she owned a handbag and her phone was wrapped in furry panther print sleeve. She introduced herself and then spent ten minutes on the phone with someone. I walked out for a bit.

When I came back she was done. I was mildly annoyed, but kept it in check. After we had gone through a plethora of background questions about me, I read a letter that I had prepared for her. It described how I had tried conventional gender therapy before and always ended up clashing and then breaking with those therapists.

She said that she understood, which was reassuring, and also that she would not stick her nose in any business that did not concern her, which was also nice. She told me to tell her when I felt she crossed a line, and that it was no problem to renegotiate any question she had, as long as I felt respected and emotionally stable.

While she was nothing like I expected, and challenged my every idea about therapy – including her use of vulgar language – this might actually be a good thing. I liked her no nonsense, down to earth attitude. With a little bit of luck this is the last gender therapist I´ll ever see.