Friday, August 15, 2014

Rebalancing my hormones one more time.

Last week I mentioned I was feeling the testosterone a lot again. So far that has only gotten worse. It really does feel like it did when I first started testosterone. I remember suddenly understanding why teen aged boys were complaining all the time. And once again I really do. It's all very impractical.
I wake up early because I am hungry. I am hungry all the time. I could eat non stop and I would if I wasn't so nauseous again. In the morning it's not so bad but in the afternoon it sometimes gets so bad I feel the need to lie down and wait for it to pass. Eating in the evening is difficult but sine I'm so bloody hungry I still do. Three cheers for protein shakes. They're a real lifesaver at the moment.
My energy levels and concentration fluctuate a lot. I've been trying to work but it's far from easy. I can't stay focussed for very long most of the time and am tempted to just crawl back into bed. But not at night. When I actually should be sleeping I am wide awake, tossing and turning. I allow myself to stay in bed late by my standards and didn't get up until 9:30 this morning. I also take naps in the afternoon if I can't push myself to do anything useful anyway. I know my body needs to get used to not having any oestrogen at all any more and this will pass. I'm trying to listen to what my body needs as best I can but it's frustrating. It would be nice if my body would agree to get that sleep at a more convenient time. I have no idea how long this will last but there is nothing I can do about it.
One of the things my body needs a lot of food and rest for is my muscles. After not training at all for 2 months your body gets a bit of a shock anyway when you start working out again. But with the new hormonal balance it's even stronger. My muscles want to grow and so far every time I did a BodyPump class I was able to put a bit extra on my barbell. I'm not getting very sore at all which is good I guess. I'm trying not to up my weights too fast even though it is very tempting. When I was still figuring out the right dosage for my testosterone my muscle mass and fat mass fluctuated too much and I ended up with a shoulder injury. I don't want that to happen again so I'm making sure I'm going easy on my joins. They need time to get used to the extra strain. I really can't wait to get to proper weights again though. I can finally create the body I've always wanted.

Getting back to work is harder then I had thought. It has been a while since I completely focussed on my own creative processes. The past few years I have been so busy with other things, like running the gallery, I didn't have much time for my own stuff. Now I've had time to think about what I really want in life I have decided to give myself another chance and really go for it. After painting abstract for about a decade I am going back to more figurative work so this means I'm back to drawing. Only slightly frustrating as I used to be pretty good at it but am not quite rusty. I'm practising the basics again, doing model drawing from a book, which I see as a necessary evil right now. Once things get better it will start being fun again I'm sure. And then I can paint again.
I am at my fourth set up for my book on my transition and feel like I finally have something that could work. I had planned to use this blog as a base to work from but copy pasting large passages seems pointless. People can just read the blog then. Right now it is taking on a novel like shape. Page one of chapter one seems finished right now but I still have about 300 pages or more to go so it's very well possible I'll rewrite that page or move it at some point. It feels good to have started though. I'm really curious where this will take me. I have started writing so many novels when I was younger but never actually finished one. This would be the first. It's a new life indeed.

Pictures of my work can be found on my Facebook page.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Recovering from surgery: week 6.

Officially it takes 6 weeks to recover from surgery so this was my last week. Honestly it felt like there wasn't much left to do. I already felt fit and everything. I just used the recovery as an excuse not to ride a bike. I don't like biking. If I could I would just walk everything. But now I don't have any excuses any more. I really have recovered.

My doctor told me I wasn't allowed to lift anything heavier then 3Kg per arm. I really tried to stick to that. I really did. But it's more like a guideline anyway. People heal at different speeds and my starting strength was a bit higher then average anyway. So on Monday, 3 days before my recovery officially ended, I went to the gym for a BodyPump class. As an instructor I used to push quite a bit of weight but not having done this training in 6 months plus the surgery I had to go all the way back to beginner's weights. This did mean 3.5Kg per side for the chest and back track but I figured it would be fine. I managed but to be honest it was a bit of a shock. Mostly for my legs. They started shaking during the back track (number 4) and didn't really stop. I was glad we didn't have to do lunges that day. My legs and biceps were sore for 4 days. The rest wasn't too bad. And what's the best thing for muscle soreness? You got it! Thursday I hit the gym again. Since I had officially hit the 6 week marker I decided I could up the weights for the chest and back by one kilo and this felt much better already. I really missed it. My body had missed it. I'm only slightly sore now, hardly at all. It seems like my body got the message: we're moving again. And my body likes it.

I'm not sure if it's because I started training again or if it's because all the oestrogen is completely gone now, but the past few days I seem to be getting the same effect I did when I just started hormones: I'm tired, hungry and horny. I feel like 16 yet again. I hope this will help me get back into shape sooner. When I first started I was able to built a lot of muscle in a short period of time. It would be great if I could do that again. Even though I am quite content with the scars at the moment, I'm less happy with the overall shape of my body right now. The scars are still fresh and they well get less hard and red eventually. I know it takes time and when I look at some of my old scars I have nothing to worry about. But the shape of my body is something I will need to fix myself. I'll keep on tracking my physical process on tumblr.

As far as my transition goes all that is left now is paperwork. I can pick up my new passport on Monday and then I can start changing my names and gender everywhere. I'm planning a little trip with a friend of mine in November, just to have crossed the border with my new passport. It felt like I was stuck here for ages. It will be so good to be able to spread my wings and celebrate my regained freedom.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Going where no girl has gone before.

Diandra wrote:
Hey :) you probably get this question often but I would really like to know how it is to join "the other club"? Do people treat you differently now that you are a man on the outside too? Do you feel that you have access to areas you couldn't access before? Take care xxx

I have been out as transsexual for a bit over 2 years now so people have had plenty of time to get used to me being a guy. Changes happen gradually most of the time. Now I've had the surgery part of me feels like not much has changed as I was already living as a guy. There are differences in how people treat you when you're a guy. People are more direct when talking to you. I like that. I notice other guys are much more relaxed around me then before. Even though I had always been 'one of the guys' actually being one of the guys is different. I don't think they notice it themselves but men simply respond to the presence of a woman. Having been one, or at least having tried to pretend to be one, I can see what happens much more clearly then most guys. I noticed it again the other day when I was at a friends house to play RPG. There is one woman in the group. She was tucking in her son when I came in so it was just the guys sitting in the garden chatting. As soon as she joined the group you could see subtle changes in posture. Everyone adjusted the way they sat just a little bit, slightly more straight up. As if everyone was mentally tucking in their shirts. The fact that she is 'one of the guys' doesn't matter. She's still female and that makes all the difference. So that's not an actual physical space but it is in a way an area that I didn't have access to before. It's the mental space, the atmosphere men create when they are among themselves. 

The only example of a physical space I can think of is the men's room. Not just public toilets but also the locker room at the gym. When I joined a new gym in January I went into the men's locker room there for the first time. You can check out my blogpost about that. I was only at that gym for a few months and have now signed up at a different gym again because I missed the Les Mills classes too much. I thought a class with a friend there for a while some time ago so I do know some people there. No one batted an eye when I went into the men's room. As a transsexual you are much more aware of your own body then most people are. You're more aware of your own body then other people are in general I guess. A lot of people are insecure about stuff that other people don't notice because they are too busy with themselves as well. But since I've just had surgery I have 2 huge scars on my chest. Check out this link if you want to know what it looks like right now. Okay, they're not huge huge but they are very visible. No one paid any attention though. The only person who seemed a bit puzzled at my being there was the instructor whom I know. I guess he hadn't expected me to walk out of the shower. Yes, the shower. I gave it a lot of thought during my transition and I decided that I really do prefer showering at the gym after a class. If I just do fitness I don't mind showering at home but after a proper class I'm sweaty as hell and I don't want to have to walk home in wet socks if it's freezing. So I decided to take the plunge and go for it. This was the only thing I hadn't dared before. It seemed unacceptable to shower in the men's when I still had boobs but now I have had my surgery and even my passport has changed I figured I had every right to be there. So I did. And it was awkward as hell. But I'll just have to get used to it and so will the rest of the people in there. It does feel like a victory. You can't get more 'in' then this. 

So I guess that's it. I can go where all the boys go now and no longer where all the girls go. If I'd walk into the lady's right now they would kick me out and they would have every right to. I don't belong there. Never have really but now it really is a closed chapter. 

I'm not sure if this fully answers your question. If it doesn't feel free to ask more detail. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Recovering from surgery: week 5.

Time really does fly. It feels like it has been ages since my surgery. It feels like I have almost fully recovered. Last Tuesday was my birthday and as a special surprise my stitches finally decided to let go. Most of them are gone now. Only a few bits are still sticking out and they will have to dissolve with time. It feels quite liberating. As long as the stitches were still there it felt like things could still go wrong but now their really just scars and those will fade eventually. I have most of my mobility back. The main reason why some movements are still a bit tricky is because the drains made quite a nasty impression, literally. Also my skin is still not completely recovered, mostly where the stickers were that were keeping the drains in place. All the scabs from the hysterectomy are gone as well. The lowest one that was the biggest is quite hard and still a bit sore. Other then that I'm doing fine.

Officially I still have to wait a whole week before I can start lifting again but that doesn't mean I can't do anything at all. I was going nuts having to sit still all the time. So I decided cardio should be okay. I signed up at a gym again this week and went to take a BodyCombat class last night. It was great to be moving again. I kept my movements small and skipped the push ups but I was honestly surprised at how well it went. My lower abdomen will take a bit more time to get back in shape but I turned out to be a lot fitter then I had expected. I am somewhat sore now but in a good way. I feel alive again. It's a good kind of sore. I really can't wait to go again. Next week I can start doing BodyPump again. I'm really looking forward to it.

There isn't really much else to tell about my recovery at the moment. I'm doing great. I guess my life starts at 36.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Recovering from surgery: week 4.

After 4 weeks you're allowed to take of your binder during the night and then slowly keep it off during the day. The thing was driving me nuts. My skin was getting really irritated and I didn't feel like I was benefiting from it at all. When I would first take it off I would feel the need to put it back on after a while but by now that was completely gone. I figured it was more a guideline anyway as every body is different. I replaced it with a tight tank top during the day for a few hours to see how it felt. It was much more comfortable. Slowly I increased the time I would wear the tight shits but would keep on the binder at night. Eventually I decided it was enough and took the binder off during the morning to never put it back on again. This was 3 days before my doctor recommended to slowly cut back on wearing it. I know I went against medical advise but I really feel much better. My skin is recovering quickly and I can feel my strength coming back. The last bit of scabs are held in place by the stitches that still need to dissolve. My chest is still itching on the inside as it heals but I feel I am getting closer to the end every day. It's getting harder and harder to restrain myself and not start lifting heavy things again. My gynaecologist told me I could start exercising again but right now that means anything waist down. So, in addiction to my daily walks, I started to do squats again. I'm only using my own bodyweight but at least it's something. It feels good to be moving again. I used to work out 14 hours a week and sitting still is really not my cup of tea. Two more weeks and I can really get started. I'm thinking about slowly adding some exercises so it won't be too much of a shock when I hit the gym again. I really can't wait.

As far as the hysterectomy goes I'm really just waiting for the scabs to fall off and that's about it. Everything is pretty much back to normal. Except the tension in my muscles of course. I really need to fix that. All in due time.

Other then that I am back to work; painting and working on my book. It feels good to be doing something useful again. I'll be using my trans related blog posts as a guideline for my book so I'm printing them out and rereading them all, sorting them out by theme to make chapters. It's really interesting to see how much has changed and how little I actually knew when I started this journey. I have learned a lot. And the people around me as well. Hopefully the book will help even more people.

If you want to see pictures of how my chest is healing you can go to my tumblr account.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Recovering from surgery: week 3.

After two weeks I was allowed to remove the tape from the cuts on my chest. For me this was one of those moments when hope turns into reality. Before removing the tape I wasn't sure what it looked like and it could be anything. I knew it wouldn't be perfect. I knew it would still be healing and it would still get better in time. I knew it would be better then how it was before because that fitted me even less then this would. You know there will be scars and when you remove the tape they're still wounds even. You know all this. But when you remove the tape it becomes real. At least, it did for me. Before the surgery I felt deformed. I knew after the surgery I would be mutilated. I know that sounds dramatic, but in a way it's true. Your body has been altered permanently because someone has cut you up and the scars are there for life. It is a constant reminder that I am not 'a real boy'. I had quite some trouble accepting what I saw. I'm slowly getting used to it and now it's healed even more it is starting to look a bit better. It doesn't look like wounds as much as it does as scars and that feels better because that means it's in the past and I can move on. I'm sure there will be days when I hate the way it looks but I am glad I did it. It was the lesser evil and I do feel better. I have no regrets. It just takes some time to get used to this new body.

The binder still had to stay on though. Officially it has to stay on for 4 weeks and after that I can take it off at night and slowly get used to not wearing it. For me it feels ridiculous. I can move quite freely and feel confident when doing normal things around the house. The first few times I took it off to take a shower it did feel awkward and unsafe to talk around without it for more then half an hour. But now I actually take it off for an hour or longer every day so my skin can recover a bit. The binder is tight and wearing it 24/7 chafes my skin. It's getting really irritated and it feels like a graze wound is developing under my arms and around my chest. The heat really doesn't help either. I can't wait to be able to take it off as right now having to wear the binder seems to be costing a lot more energy then I get benefits from it.

My gynaecologist, doctor Milo, wanted to see me for a check up that week. They had made an appointment for me without asking me and the letter they had send to confirm had ended up at a different address so I didn't know until they called on Monday to ask if I could come earlier the next day. Luckily I could. I actually got the letter and some get well soon cards from some friends that afternoon. The person who had received my mail had just returned from holiday and dropped them into my mailbox.
Honestly it felt a bit like a waste of my time. I was on my way for two and a half hours and was only in his office for about 5 minutes. He took a quick look at the scabs, told me to keep them clean and that I shouldn't ride a bike for another 3 weeks or so and that was it. He told me there was no need for me to come back again but if I needed anything I could always call. At least that part is done now. I don't have to think about the hysterectomy any more other then letting the scabs heal. The lowest one is giving me a bit of trouble though as my underwear, jeans, etc cover it and it gets irritated. I hope it starts healing properly soon because it's really annoying. I don't mind walking around in my birthday suit at home at these temperatures but I do need to put something on when I go outside. I guess it just takes time.

Wednesday I went to city hall. I had thought that changing my birth certificate would just be a technicality but it turned out it did feel like an important step. I wanted to get it done so it would all be official and I could really move on. The lady helping me was really nice. They had made a check list of all the information they needed and everything because they wanted to be well prepared. This was all new to them as the new law had only been passed a few weeks before. I was the fourth transsexual to come and change his passport under the new law in my city. One of my oldest friends happened to be nearby so he came along and we had coffee and a chat while the nice lady went to dig up my certificate and scribble on it. It feels really good to have that done. It's a load off. Things are finally getting real. And soon I can really get on with my life. Just a few more weeks of recovery and I'm good to go.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Recovering from surgery: week 2.

The second week after my surgery I felt much better. The drains were gone and I regained a lot of range of motion rather quickly. I still needed some help but less every day. Slowly I started picking up chores around the house. I would manage making myself a salad for lunch and then I would lie down and take a break before eating it. I always want to do everything myself but I'm also quite capable of listening to my own body and after something like that my chest would clearly give off a sign for me to slow down. Everything took a lot longer then usual but at least I managed. That was the most important thing. If you just sit down and do nothing for 6 weeks it will take longer to recover. You need to keep the blood flowing to supply building blocks and to get rid of the rubble. You need to keep moving to keep the muscles and tendons from shrinking. If you don't your body will get stuck and it can take a lot longer before you can do all the things you used to do again. You have to be a bit bold every now and then. Of course, that's not a problem in my case. I was actually more surprised to see myself holding back and not pushing things too much. The first time I went for a walk again I just went around the block instead of just heading off for a longer distance. Pretty quickly I managed a whole hour again but I didn't force it. By the end of the week I felt like I could do pretty much anything again. as long as I didn't lift anything too heavy.

I got really lucky with how quickly I recover. I still have some time to go but I improved much faster then I had expected. I thought I would still be drinking through straws by now. Turns out it's really not that bad. I guess a lot of your recovery depends on how fit you are when you go into surgery. I don't smoke any more which also helps a lot and I eat very healthy stuff. Plus I heal pretty well in general. My body seems to be quite resilient. I'm just lucky that way. I know I'm not a standard case and most people aren't able to sleep on their sided or stomach even in the second week. I'm not complaining.

One thing people tend to forget is that when you take out your ovaries and don't produce much oestrogen any more your body changes. This is usually called: The Change. But in transmen the testosterone should replace most of the functions of oestrogen. Testosterone and oestrogen are not the same though and you do have some effects of menopause. How much is very different for people. I know one transguy who had horrible night sweats and all of that. Some people hardly notice anything. I got a few hot flashes for about 3 days and that was pretty much it. The only thing I really noticed was how unhappy my bladder was. Your fluid balance changes when you go from oestrogen to testosterone. They simply have different set points. So you lose some weight because you lose some fluids. A lot of women get bladder infections during this period because of the ridiculous amount of fluids that pass through. Three cheers for cranberries. It wasn't just the hormones though. With my uterus gone everything in my belly had started to move around. The first week this was really uncomfortable but it settled quite a bit the second week. Still, it felt weird. And my bladder probably needed to get used to the new neighbours as well. This might take a few weeks but it's not something I need to worry about. It would be nice not to have to get up 3 times at night to go to the bathroom though.