Next Stop Surgery

I have to admit that I am losing interest in writing this blog and thus posts are likely to be quite infrequent from now on; I doubt they will be particularly missed in this disposable society that we live in. I had a lovely holiday in Austria at the end of August but now, at the end of October, it seems a bit pointless writing about it… even if, should I write about it on a grey, miserable day, I might enjoy the reminiscence. But I set this blog up to write about life as I transition and live life as my true, female self, and I suppose I feel a tiny obligation to continue writing about pertinent matters if only so that it will help others on the same path.

At the start of October I had four health appointments. One was with Endrocrinology to check my progress with hormones and to do a blood test to check oestrogen levels, during which I was told that in 2-3 weeks I’d get a letter confirming those levels – unsurprisingly, three weeks have passed and I have heard nothing. Another was for a non-transition health issue which remains and worries me after an appointment with my doctor today – more tests and a scan on the horizon. The third appointment was for my three-monthly blocker injection… which does not seem to have been totally successful this time… causing some distressing moments. The final, and most significant, appointment was a milestone on my transition path which was an assessment for surgery.

In the UK, or Northern Ireland anyway, one is considered for surgery at some point after having been on hormones for over 12 months and as this target passed for me in July then I was therefore due for surgical assessment at some point. In the past, patients have been sent over to Brighton, where the surgery takes place, for this assessment, but due to what would seem to be a sensible cost saving measure, perhaps due to the increasing number of transsexual people passing through the healthcare system, Dr Thomas from Brighton and two of his assistants were invited over to the Belfast GIC for an ‘assessment open day’. The near two-hour appointment was split into two parts. The first session was conducted by a very pleasant lady who talked to three girls including myself through the surgery path from admittance to care and procedures once at home again a week after surgery, including pre-surgery preparations. The second session, following a form-filling exercise, was with Dr Thomas himself who asked a few questions about my path and my health and medical history, answered my questions on surgery and explained risks, and conducted an examination to confirm if I would need electrolysis to the male appendage that I am still lumbered with; although this session was informative, it all felt increasingly rushed to me just like a lot of sessions at the doctor and in the end it was as if he couldn’t kick me out quick enough.

Now, as some/many of you may know, there are at least two options as regards surgery… well, three actually, because one can decide to have nothing done at all… although unless there is some particular health reason or circumstance to not have anything done at all I personally find it bizarre to be a woman but remain with the deformity of a male organ. Anyway, casting that option swiftly aside, the option chosen by many is the full works, with the male genitalia dispensed with and parts of it used to fashion a realistic female anatomy including a full vagina and also a clitoris – sorry, can’t use the male anatomy words vividly, I hate them too much, but you can Google details on the surgery procedure if you want to. However, there is a third option, which is a cosmetic option consisting of the full-works option minus the vaginoplasty, such that cosmetically everything looks just as good but there is no functioning vagina. Now I have to say that so many people seem to assume that every transsexual would have the full-works option, and indeed someone said to me last year “don’t even think about not having a vagina”… but how does anyone know what is right for me except for me?!? Another opinion I have heard is that they “wouldn’t feel complete as a woman without a vagina”… and it is fine for them to have that opinion for them… yet I feel complete already, everyday I live as woman, do everything in a typically female fashion, and get along fine with practically never any bother from anyone, even if I do hate having the male appendage that becomes visible when I am inside a toilet cubicle… and so to remove it will make me feel physically right. Going back to the appointment, it seemed to me that the people from Brighton also assume by default (unless advised perhaps of any medical issue) that everyone is going for the full works option, and never at any point was any mention of the other option made, apart from when I brought it up in private… because, you see, I have pretty much always been in two minds since I started this path as to which of the two surgeries are most appropriate for me. There are pros and cons with both options of course – for example, to not have a vagina obviously rules out penetrative sexual activity and consequently rules out a relationship with a proportion of male partners who would want that (although, let’s be honest and realistic, I’m already ruled out from having a relationship with the majority of available partners because of my transsexual gender history), but on the flip side to have a vaginoplasty means a variety of increased risks with surgery, having to dilate for the rest of one’s life (or have intercourse with a partner on a fairly regular basis – not a problem for some if they have a partner I guess) to keep the vagina open with a very time-consuming dilation routine in the initial few months, having to have (what I presume to be painful) electrolysis on the male appendage prior to surgery, having a prolonged recovery period, and so on. Another factor is one’s current attitude to the male genitalia – some people can put up with the bits without too much bother although do want to get rid of them while I am to the other extreme and loath them, have almost developed a phobia of them such that I can’t even imagine having intercourse with a guy (although like the idea of close companionship and kisses/hugs), and can’t watch a couple making love on the screen (for other reasons I won’t go into)… and there are others whose opinion is in between. Therefore, I went back into the lady conducting the first session on my own and went through the whole thing again on the premise that if I went for the cosmetic option then what would the revised schedule be… and I explained my current preference more for the cosmetic routine and she understood my view… even if she had not considered age to be a factor as she thought I was about 35! 🙂

Having considered the pros and cons… I am still considering them… and I will continue to do so for a while, especially as I am soon likely to experience some interaction with one or two potential male partners and when I eventually tell them of my history, if they don’t run a mile, I will broach the subject of intercourse (although have already done so with one) and consider reactions. But at the moment, having had the assessment, I have verged even more towards the cosmetic option taking account of my age, my work lifestyle which involves a huge amount of commuting time, that I live in an isolated location with little local support should anything go wrong, consequent risk aversion, my hatred of male genitalia (if only due to being stuck with it for such an awful long time), and my dislike of sex. I will go think some more… my opinion may change… or may not…

May’s Ups And Downs

Just like the title of my blog the first half of May, which this post covers, had some nice ups, and some rather deflating downs. The ongoing issue with my leg was one of the downs but I’m not going to go on about that again… well, at least not to actually moan about it.

Anyway, the main ups in the period were due to time with friends, and the first one is a bit of a cheat as it was on 30th April so it doesn’t quite scrape into May… but it’s my blog and so I get to make up the rules. My friend Michelle and I had tentatively agreed to meet up on this day though the activities were, as things often tend to be in the inclement country of Northern Ireland, dependent upon the weather. In the morning I had, as recommended by my physio, an appointment with a podiatrist in Newry in a latest attempt to nail the issue with my legs making little progress on the road to recovery… and this is detailed in my previous post. In the afternoon I met Michelle at around 1.30 at the small town of Hillsborough where I jumped in her car and we drove to Comber, albeit on a round about route, which was to be the start of the afternoon’s activity, a treasure trail, on foot and by car – the long and short of it is that this activity involves following instructions trying to solve a number of clues in different locations, some of which involve quite an amount of searching… and even, as it turned out, me wiping dirt off a metal tourist information sign with a tissue in order to reveal one of the answers! Michelle has detailed this event in veryDSCN1315e good historical detail so I will say no more than that it was a fun afternoon where in a good joint effort, without any competitiveness, we solved all of the clues, ending up at the ruins of Inch Abbey from where is a good view of Downpatrick and its cathedral. Along the way we traversed a number of roads unknown to me, with some pretty scenery and bluebells lining the road at times, around the inlets of Strangford Lough, of which the picture shown is one of them.

The weekend afterwards I had little enthusiasm for any outings, especially as no friends seemed to be available and there were no meetup activities occurring that didn’t require too much activity from my achy legs. But on the Sunday I had a text from Kirsty indicated she might have a hole in her busy social schedule for a bite to eat, so I perked up and decided to make an afternoon of it with a shopping excursion into Belfast in search of comfortable shoes, particularly from the manufacturers recommended by my podiatrist; it was a lovely, warm afternoon, and for a change I was able to go outdoors in only a light top and cardigan. I parked on the outskirts of the centre and walked about a mile to the shops. One of those I went into was Ecco… which soon turned into a huge disappointment, lots of truly awful shoes falling mainly into the categories of either ‘very plain’, ‘truly awful’, or ‘decrepit granny attire’; one thing they all had in common was a rather expensive price tag… and another issue was that the staff showed no interest in wanting to assist me, or the other customer. The other shop I went into was Hotter which was somewhat better and while some of the shoes on offer were also much beyond my age bracket a few were acceptable; the staff were very pleasant and helpful too… and so I tried on a few pairs and after trying different sizes (they have half sizes too) I eventually plumped for what seemed like a more supportive pump style and another pair with a low, supportive heel in the sale; hardly a steal at £121 for the two pairs. After popping briefly into Next I returned to my car and drove a short distance to meet up with Kirsty and her new friend Alison who had spent the whole afternoon drinking coffee and eating frozen yoghurt. Kirsty and I went to a nearby hotel for an early dinner before she had a book group meetup; I treated myself to a roast dinner (which I never have at home as no point cooking it for one) which, after sending it back to the kitchen to be heated up, was very enjoyable… as was my afternoon shopping and Kirsty catch up.

The very next day was a real downer – it all revolved round the changes made to our office restaurant. In essence, a new provider is offering the services for our company, and compared to previous more minor changes this also involved a change to the payment system, thus one had to register with the new system with the provider and they would transfer the monetary balance from the old system onto the new one. So I went to them with my access card to do this transfer, and they looked up ‘Andrea’ on the old system and couldn’t find me. I said that’s not right, because I’ve been using the canteen for ages… and then they searched on my surname and found an entry… and it was in my old forename. Ugh 😦 They said “there’s no Andrea’s at all”, and only one entry under the same surname… and so I had to take him with his laptop to a quiet corner of the canteen and explain the situation about my change-of-life circumstances; he was quite alright with it, and changed my name there and then… but the point of this situation is to emphasise to anyone in my circumstances that don’t be surprised if a long time after you go full-time as new-and-happy-you that your history comes back to haunt you.

A couple of days later I had another downer, perhaps even worse than the aforementioned one. I ended up chatting to this South African guy in my office who, like pretty much everyone, is fine with the new me… but then we got onto the subject of my injured leg and my jogging that might have caused it and he said “What were you wearing to run? Was it men’s runners or….” and my head was screaming “WHAT THE **** DO YOU THINK YOU I WAS WEARING, YOU INSENSITIVE *****!!!” but all I said was “Ladies jogging trainers, of course!”…… but it really rather upset me because I was in a situation where once again the history I am forgetting essentially came back to haunt me.

The rest of the week was okay, lots of situations where I was addressed or treated as a woman, the only other disappointment being that wearing my new navy shoes from Hotter proved to be a disappointment in that by the end of the day my legs were probably worse than they had been when wearing my Clarke’s ballet pumps avec arches.

On the Saturday mid-May I had a really nice Saturday out with Michelle again. I was picked DSCN1325up at Hillsborough and we drove around the north shore of Strangford Lough to a National Trust property called Mount Stewart, a splendid manor house with a very elaborate and extensive garden; it was the perfect time of year to go with grand displays of rhododendrons and azaleas as well as carpets of bluebells. After a tasty afternoon tea with a freshly baked (after a wait) scone, we walked around the big lake in lovely sunshine visiting various areas of flora and fauna, including a family burial ground, some nesting swans, and eventually the Italian Garden (see right, and lake view below). A couple of hours later we returned to Hillsborough where I headed off to do some food shopping and then met up again at one of our favourite restaurants, The Plough – I had a lovely duck starter, we both had the special duo-of-fish dish with a lovely hollandaise sauce, and shared a selection of desserts… and I was pretty stuffed but satisfied by the end.

So a mixed set of events over those couple of weeks… proving that fun times with friends matter but it is not always easy to shed the past that one wished had never happened.

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Fed Up, regression (?)… and some walking tips

In one of my recent blog posts (not that they are that frequent as of late) I mentioned the underlying issue that has made me so fed up in the last couple of months. It is nothing to do with my transition, all is going pretty much as well as ever in that respect (albeit with the occasional teensy blip), daily life is normal and satisfying, I love seeing my new face complete with lovely girlie hair, am happy with my new voice, and so on.

No, the issue that has made me so fed up is the leg injury that showed itself while I was away on the interesting island of Gran Canaria at the end of February… which remains an issue, with not a significant amount of recovery after two months. I had two doctor appointments in March, the first ruling out DVT (a small risk now that I am on HRT) and the second ruling out a fracture and concluding it was a severe muscle sprain most likely caused by the jogging that I started in early February. After that, and little recovery in another couple of weeks, I embarked on a series of three physio appointments where it was also stated that the issue was muscular (tendonitis) which the physio himself said he had had a few years ago after a jogging incident, although he seemed to think that my injury was caused due to a lengthy irregular driving position in a strange (or, awful, as it turned out) hire car for a prolonged period; personally I think it’s a combination of jogging high-impact physical stress, car driving position, and possibly due to feminine footwear. At my physio I could feel parts of my leg muscles that he kneaded were rather sensitive, so that I suppose at least also supported the muscle prognosis. After the third physio appointment he said that there wasn’t anything he could really do and all he was actually doing was helping to ease the pain, and so recommended going to a podiatrist… and so the weekend just gone, after a couple of weeks when I ordered arch support inserts and got on poorly with them, I went to an appointment at Newry Foot Clinic – on the plus side the girl who attended to me didn’t indicate anything untoward was wrong, the conclusion was that my feet have quite a roll-in which requires arch support… and so ballet pumps, which I love and have quite a few of, are a total no-no (sobs as she writes), heels are generally not great either, ankle boots are agreeable, but ideally I should spend most of my life in trainers. Sobs again (probably), I have spent the majority of my uncomfortable life in horrible trainers, and more occasionally ugly blokey shoes, and so that idea does not fit well whatsoever with me. Then she said that the best shoes for me are those made by the likes of Ecco and Hotter, and so after the appointment I went to a nearby shoe shop selling an assortment of styles and makes of shoes, including those two… and I nearly cried when I saw them, essentially if you imagine a frumpy grandmother with a typically fashionless dress-sense then you will just about have the shoe in mind. Ugh!! So, as I write, I am rebelliously wearing a pair of ballet pumps, albeit with the arch-support inserts.

All these problems with my legs (mainly the right one) have meant that activities that I have typically done for the last couple of years have taken a back seat – I have not been able to go to any walks with my walking group, I have not generally even been in a state to drive my new car any distance in order to attend any more social meetups in Belfast, or even meet my friends Kirtsy and Michelle very much… and in fact driving at all has been generally unenjoyable, and I have found if difficult finding a comfortable driving position for more than a day or so. And this is why a part of me feels like I have regressed, at least temporarily, not back as far as my incorrect gender because that will never happen, but towards the unsociable me that I used to be… and thus life has generally been extremely frustrating apart from the very occasional meal with my two friends and a hair appointment and lovely lunch. I have also not even dared book another holiday for fear that I will either walk or drive too much and further damage my leg(s).

As regular readers will know, and as mentioned above, I belong to a walking group… though my walking tips I am about to document are nothing to do with that hobby, they are not tips on places to walk…. but actually a topic relating to transition. Before I ventured into the world as the real me, and I am not talking full-time but in fact for the first time, I spent months and months and months researching and then practising various things, and one of these was on how to walk like a woman because once out and about I didn’t want to stick out as someone walking rather oddly and draw attention to myself; in fact, even when having to keep up the façade of a male persona I started walking like a woman, partly to practise and partly because the real me was eagerly trying to burst into the world. My research involved largely reading on various transgender websites for hints and tips on what to do and what not to do, and I put as many of them into practise as possible, and for me I believe they have worked… not that I think I actually ever walked really bloke-like, and in fact when I came out to someone at work shortly before going full-time he told me I ran like a girl! Anyway, my current injury issue has enabled me to examine the various aspects of the female walk, both in terms of what I really still need to do (which pretty much comes naturally now anyway) and also observing women around me, and my conclusions are as follows:

  • As the girl at the foot clinic said to me, everyone walks differently… so just supposing you look at someone and think they have a very feminine walk that you’d like to emulate then look at another girl and they are highly unlikely to walk the same way… although as per the next point, there are certain things that most women exhibit when they walk.
  • The vast majority of women walk with their body straight and, unlike a typical bloke, the torso itself does not move at all… so they don’t trudge! Women also rarely walk with their hands in their pockets, practically always swing their arms as they walk (and usually one arm as the other arm has a handbag hanging from some part of it), walk with their legs together (so not like a rugby player) so that the legs almost brush on the insides, and very importantly they take shorter strides than men do and therefore more of them; ignoring the latter can potentially mean that someone supposed to be walking like a woman will look more like they are moon-walking like Michael Jackson.
  • Women in heels will to a certain extent swing their hips – this is at least partly because wearing heels naturally makes one do this. However, excessive hip-swinging, or ‘mincing’, is just going to look ridiculous and will make one look more like a very camp man; I have observed a girl in my office walking like this, and she looks idiotic! Women wearing flats or trainers generally don’t do much in the way of swaying, if at all.
  • I read on one site that a woman’s body structure means that their torso is more forward in relation to their pelvis, which probably accounts for the fact that certain women have obvious bottoms (I don’t mean fat, just, well, stick-out shapely I suppose). To try and achieve this it is possible for a trans-girl to roll their pelvis forwards, and I have done this over the last two years… and although I think it helped me pass well on the whole, at this stage in my transition, where I think I pass well enough due to my naturally feminine hair, improved looks due to HRT, and confidence in myself, my injury has made me realise that I don’t need to do this any more… and in fact it may have contributed to my injury by putting undue pressure on my knees.
  • A trans woman told me that women walk with their toes pointed inwards. Really? Not in general, from what I have seen.

I could think of more to say I suppose, but I’m weary so I hope the above tips will help some of you further back in the journey than I am; these are my opinions, I think they will help someone to blend in more… but that’s only part of the equation, if one doesn’t make much effort with make up, has poor dress sense or dresses out of keeping with their age, then no amount of walking practise is going to help an awful lot :-/

Today I looked at the websites of Ecco and Hotter… and if one wades through the frumpiness there are just a few sensible and even pretty shoes and well-styled boots… so I may soon go footwear shopping!

 

Reunion… on an Accidental Mother’s Day Weekend

I have been living full-time in my true, female gender for over a year now and for that time there have been two people who have had an issue with that for one reason or another, my brother and my daughter.

I don’t imagine that my daughter will come round any time soon and I doubt my ex- ever has anything positive or encouraging to say about me – that would break the habit of a lifetime – but I will continue to communicate via email with her and live in hope.

As for my brother, one of his big issues in making any acceptance-progress has been that he just doesn’t communicate… and in fact not just on this, but with anything much really, certainly not anything more than superficial. Anyway, about 5 weeks ago I started the ball rolling by sending him a little message saying that I miss my parents, having not seen them for over 5 months, and seemingly not able to come over either… and his response totally ignored my emotions. Shortly afterwards I had an email from my parents asking if I was okay and reminding me that I had not been in touch in a couple of weeks… and so it enabled me to tell them that, actually, although healthy enough I was a bit sad that I had not seen them for so long… and, to cut a long story short, I had booked flights for the first weekend in March to go over to stay with my family, as well as a hire car to get there as my brother did not want to meet the new-look me for the first time by himself, which is fair enough I suppose considering the length of time he has been stuck in time. About a week before my weekend away, I was shopping in Tesco and saw reminders about Mothers Day on 6th March… and then was even happier about my trip arrangements, because I would be over for Mothers Day with my mother, something I did not know when I had booked flights.

So, on March 4th, I was flying out of Belfast on my way to my family, feeling quite excited… although at the same time not particularly well, having had my third cold of the year for about a week, and also an annoying leg ache, that as luck wouldn’t have it escalated during my travels and made me think I had DVT. At just after midnight I got to my family’s house, relieved and overjoyed to be there, actually in the home that I grew up in, but feeling right about myself… albeit unwell. The next morning I was up and ready in reasonable time, and tentatively went into the kitchen where my brother was making bread, with my mum safely nearby… and it was not long before we were in conversation, and laughing about things! And it wasn’t much different to how it ever was… except of course I was happy within myself. Later my brother went for a walk by himself as he had a headache… at least that was what I was told… although he does do this a lot when I am not there, so I IMG_20160305_132026707decided to go down to the small town centre for some shopping. Before I went I asked my dad whether any of the neighbours knew about me and, when he said no, I asked what I should do if I should encounter any of them, should I just smile sweetly, say hello, and walk on… and he said “it’s up to you”! This really pleased me, essentially he was saying that if I wanted to let them know then that was fine, and he was not afraid of any resulting gossip, for example. I was out for maybe an hour and a half and had a nice time, even though the town where my parents live is hardly very big – it’s a farming and mountain-activities town, with supermarkets and a few standard shops as well as a number of hiking shops, so hardly a place with in-trend fashion stores, but it was nice to wander around what I call my home town as my true self, without anyone treating me any differently from any other woman; see photo of happy-me, taken on the bridge over the main river passing through the town. The rest of the weekend was very nice but nothing much to write about, we played cards, ate quite a bit, chatted quite a lot, but ultimately it was enjoyable and pleasant without any awkwardness; on the Sunday night my brother bid me farewell, as he was working the next day, and he said it was nice to see me… and so I am quite hopeful that all will be well with him and me 🙂

The Monday morning I was tired and after washing and styling my hair and eating breakfast I went to bed for a while. After lunch I was packed and it was all too soon time to go – as my parents accompanied me to my car I got sad, and when my mum hugged me goodbye I burst into tears! My mum told me not to cry, and that they would be over to see me soon. After a hug from my dad, I got in the car and dried my eyes and cheeks, and then set off… and it was only after several miles that the threat of tears subsided.

All in all, a pretty successful, and very enjoyable weekend!

 

ENT, RUA, SAD – Normal Life In Acronym World

Since I returned from my great holiday in Tenerife the weather at home has been pretty appalling – I know, Ireland and the UK are hardly renowned for loads of sunshine and warmth in autumn, but this year it has been reported that November has been the dullest on record, and strong winds, persistent rain, and blankets of grey skies have been generally relentless… and so someone like me (or a valued friend of mine, as I found out recently) who suffers from self-diagnosed SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) can, and has, got pretty fed up with getting out of bed one day after the next to miserable weather. Luckily life has been pretty good otherwise, though as I write this now, with Christmas just around the corner which I am really not looking forward to, I am feeling a bit down. I wonder if my lack of enthusiasm will show in this blog, as I catch-up from early-November to mid-December…

In mid-November I had an appointment in ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) in a Belfast hospital to have an examination of my nasal passages and throat owing to my long-running throat problems with post-nasal drip, a condition which means either a runny nose with no warning or too much phlegm. Anyway, the rather uncomfortable examination revealed nothing that looked damaged or untoward, which I left feeling quite relieved about. In the lift on the way down to ground floor the door opened on the floor below the one I had entered and a girl from one of my Meetup Groups got in, which was a nice surprise; we chatted all the way to the car park, and swapped phone numbers for a potential future cinema meetup.

In the last few weeks I have become more efficient at getting ready, and it normally takes me barely more than an hour now to get ready from out of my bed to out of the door; one day I even did it in 57 minutes!

In late November there was quite a chilly period and it snowed on the hills above Belfast… but, despite being a fair-weather person, I went for a walk with my group to the top of Cave Hill and I did enjoy the company… even if it took my face about an hour to defrost over some nice chat and a scone and tea.

The next day was a very interesting and activity-packed one. The morning was to another meetup group event, this time to Ulster Museum to visit the annual RUA (Royal Ulster Academy) art exhibition, where RUA members and other artists submit their work and the subjectively-best work is chosen for their annual display; this event was one of many that a nice guy called Jim has posted up this year since I joined this group. There was actually some very good art work there, both paintings and also sculptures, including a knitted crane! After that many of us went to Café Renoir for a really good lunch with much chat; I had quite a tasty burger. Next on the agenda was a lone-trip to the cinema to see Matt Damon’s latest film, Martian, about how a guy tries to survive on his own on Mars – I thought it was very well done… and near the end I cried… which I never thought I would do at a film set in space! Then I headed over to the Lisburn Road for supper with my BFF Kirsty at a coffee shop we like.

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At the end of November my car was at the repairers for a couple of days to have a minor bump sorted out – the guys there were really nice, the older one kept addressing me as “love” and desperately tried to give me a lift into the centre of town… though I had over an hour to kill before a dentist appointment and so I walked as it was, for once, dry… although on the Saturday I did accept a lift as it was rather wet. Having got the bus into Newry, I popped to the ladies, and there was a woman at the sink in only her bra changing her clothes!! In the evening I enjoyed another fabulous meal at Blu in Belfast with my two friends Kirsty and Michelle.

Work is pretty much the same as ever, not terribly interesting, but at the same time no bother in terms of my new life, apart from occasions when stress makes my throat feel tight and keeping my new voice going becomes somewhat exhausting; many guys are very well mannered, holding doors open and so on. A girl on my team is getting married at the end of this month, and I enjoyed organising a collection for her; she seemed to enjoy being spoilt with the resulting presents which it took me a VERY long lunch to decide upon, as well as flowers… I just hope she likes them. I have had several lunches out with colleagues past and present at Dublin, a favourite venue being the Art Of Coffee which serves lovely sandwiches on Italian bread.

I had an uneventful gender clinic appointment… although once again, when we covered my throat issues, she stated that many transsexuals carry on life with their “normal” (???) voice… although how they do this satisfactorily I can’t imagine because to me living life as a woman but making no effort to sound like one makes no sense at all… and to me only now do I have a voice which, at least in my head, finally DOES sound normal.

I have run out of things to say, not many of which I am sure are that interesting; next time I’ll write about a measure to at least temporarily halt my SAD.

x

Another Adventure Abroad (part 2) – strap marks

At the end of part 1 of my adventure recollection I was just recovering from a problematic bottom in the middle of the night… which I suppose is not a good way to start a blog post! Luckily my medication acted swiftly and by the next morning, Wednesday, I was fine.

Wednesday was a free day with no group activity scheduled. Some people decided to laze by the hotel pool all day, some decided to swim in the sea pools, and some did a bit of shopping… but I was doing my practically shopping in the evenings when it was too dark to do anything else, I don’t swim, and I get bored lazing for more than about half an hour… but above all I am Andrea The Explorer and so I headed off out for a day by myself, catching a bus to journey an hour west to a lovely small town called P1070152Garachicho. This town was formally the principal port on Tenerife, but it was obliterated by a volcanic eruption in 1706 – I had read in a guide book that some remains do exist of buildings sticking out of the old lava flows, but they were obviously well hidden and not at all signposted. However, there were still plenty of lovely things to see – impressive coastal vistas beyond the lava rocks that the waves crashed over, a pleasant traditional old town centre with cobbled streets and lovely churches, and the old town gate. I spent much time on the coastal rocks patiently taking photos of the dramatic waves from various angles, pleased not to have people that I was holding up with my photographic hobby. After a walk in the town I headed west, along the main road for a while and later along quieter coast roads, past a natural sea arch, a sleepy sea side town, banana plantations, ending up at

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Having a whale of a time!

a whale skeleton! All the time the weather was splendid, it was November and yet the sun was bright and hot; I was glad to have applied my factor 50 and taken my sun hat. I walked up the town I had reached towards the bus stop but alas saw it already at a stop to the right of me about to set off, and so I hurtled along the road in the direction it was going and managed to reach the stop as it filled up with a party of hikers… but alas all that exertion has left me in a bit of a state with hair all over the place and I think I was read by a curious late-teenage girl sitting opposite me who stared at me several times; oh well, if that is what it was, I won’t see her ever again.

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Back in Puerto De La Cruz I had much time to spare and so I walked some of the back streets, finding some interesting buildings… as well as a menu with a rather unusual sounding dish on it, which I decided to give a miss. I went in many other shops, clothes, perfume, souvenir, and jewellery… though eventually only ended up buying some perfume, which I haggled for playing one shop off against another; I was happy to be addressed as Senora in many. Returning to the hotel in the dark I met several of my walking group who were surprised that I was only just returning from my day out; they waited for me to hurriedly change and then we headed off in smaller groups to a restaurant overlooking the sea. I was on a table of six with five other women and we had a fun time, with lots of enjoyable conversation, as well as quite a bit of joking around with our amusing waiter… who called me ‘honey’ and told the others to shut up when I was ordering my meal! I asked him about a cocktail, and when he joked in response he playfully patted my arm. We left about 10.00 and went to bed.

Thursday was the final full day of the group’s holiday, and the walking activity ended on a high with a splendid trek of about six miles along the coast. The first thing of note was as I was applying my makeup after my shower… because I noticed that the sun had caught my skin a little and, for the first time in my life, I had strap marks!!! Yes, I had been wearing a dress with thin straps and took my cardigan off during the afternoon in the increasing heat… and despite the sun cream it was not enough to avoid a little bit of sunburn… though a sunburn I will remember for some time! We caught a local bus west for about half an hour and walked back to our hotel with our guide who told us some interesting facts about some historic houses, ruins below the cliffs, as well as the plant life. I spent P1070185much of the walk with Barry again, as he patiently waited for me photo-taking and sharing tales and tips for assorted holiday destinations. Back at the city we had a late lunch at a restaurant famous for serving a good paella, and it was indeed pretty good, with a wide variety of seafood and rice of a lovely creamy consistency, washed down with a nice cool beer. I departed before some of the others but with another woman and, after chatting with her walking back to the hotel, I went for a peaceful walk to the beach as the sun went down behind me and then started to pack my bags. For our group’s final evening out we went to a good tapas restaurant a short walk away; a lady I chatted to quite a bit said “you’re like me, you like to put on a nice dress and feel feminine”; yep… though for much of my life I never thought I would be able to, how thing’s change.

Friday morning we said goodbyes to the holiday organiser, and I also said goodbye to Barry who gave me a hug. On the journey back to the airport I chatted for a while to our group leader, and we all had a few tales of our adventures – we arrived at about midday in Departures… and at that point I said farewell to my group because my adventures were most certainly not at an end, for there was much of the island still to be discovered… and so much that I feel the group missed, as I will recount in my next post.

x

P1070214

Weeks 32-35 As a Full-time Woman – September 2015… and Silence Is Not Always Golden

It’s getting on for being nearly halfway through October and I haven’t posted about anything since my Slovenian holiday that occurred in the latter half of August. One of the reasons for this is that, on the whole, life has just been rather normal – not dull or unexciting, although I have had some weeks at work where I have had no break from the work-commute routine, just everything ticking along nicely. However, the other reason is that my mood has been all over the place, with some very low moments… and that is because in mid-September I hurt my throat muscles and practically lost my voice for several days, and even now I am only in recovery-mode from this with hospital appointments for it on the horizon. Hence the title of this post, because I have been much quieter than is usual for my new, happy self… and this silence has NOT been golden but downright depressing.

Sunday 6th September

At just after midday I met up with Charley, a uni-student that I met at my local trans* support group some time ago in 2014, and had brunch at a place called Jenz – we had a nice chat and it was good to see her after her summer away, the food was okay too, my panini was nice… although Charley’s cooked breakfast bun just looked half-heartedly thrown together. I headed onto Queen’s Uni to a Meetup to view an art exhibition by Julian Friars – some of the wildlife paintings were stunning, one or two almost 3D like. Later I met Kirsty for coffee at Caffe Nero.

Monday 7th September

Back to work after my hols. Aggghhhhhhhh.

Tuesday 8th September

My birthday, and my first birthday spent living 24/7 as the real me… and a year older! But what a year it’s been! I had some lovely birthday cards, including one from my brother which said “To Andrea”, the first, and only so far, time he has used my new name. My daughter wished me happy birthday by email, but no card. The day after I celebrated my birthday, and those of my friends, with a nice meal at The Plough.

Weekend of 12th/13th September

On the Friday my parents arrived from Wales… and within a quarter of an hour my mum squeezed my breasts! Why she thought they might have grown to full size in two months I don’t know…. much as I wish they had done. On the Saturday morning once I got to breakfast mum said “Hello Princess” which was really nice… though later undid that my criticising my legs, saying that they looked muscular with thin ankles and I’d be better in trousers; well, thanks a lot. On the Sunday was the disaster that affected my voice – I was getting ready and just as I was about to put my wig on (as my natural hair is not long enough yet) my mum knocked on the bedroom door and started to push it open… and so in a huge panic I raised my voice to her without thinking, or putting any of my techniques into play, and shrieked at her not to come in.  Later on we had a two-mile walk along country roads where I live and near home we passed my neighbour as he came out of his drive, we said hello and that was it, but I was glad my parents were with me the first time I spoke to him… as a girl. Overall their visit was good, and my mum’s mis-gendering has reduced.

Monday 14th September

The day soon went downhill as my voice became more and more croaky and hoarse and by lunchtime I could barely speak!! Pat, my PM, asked me why I was fed up, and so I told him, opened up about my voice problem and my worries; as usual, he was very caring. But as the day went on, I felt more and more down… and I eventually started to contemplate how much value I am to the world

Tuesday 15th September

I got on the train at Newry to find it full, standing room only. There were two bikes laid in front of about six pull-down seats and I asked the guard if they could be moved. “Sorry madam, there’s nowhere to put them”… but a girl vacated a seat nearby and a guy nearer to the seat than me gestured that I take it J

My voice was total rubbish today, and several days afterwards, barely a word possible unless I took a very deep breath, so I used hand signals much of the time. A nice girl from Poland said that she liked my choice in clothes, not just that day but generally… and as usual I appreciated the compliment, but almost wished I had not had it, because it meant I had to use my voice to thank her!

Thursday 24th September

After struggling on with my voice, or lack of, for a week and a half I finally made it to a doctor’s appointment – the lady was very pleasant, and gave me a prescription for two medicines. With time to spare before the next train I made a quick trip to a crash repairer to have damage inspected on one of my car doors – the guy was really nice, and courteous, as he gave me a quote. At Newry station the young guy checking tickets joked that I was up late, and at Dublin the older guy who seems to now look out for me said the same thing – when I told him I had been to the doctor he looked a bit concerned, but when I light-heartedly said that at least I had had a lie in he laughed.

Weekend 26th / 27th September

On the Saturday I met up with my friends Michelle and Kirsty to do a treasure trail at a place called Oxford Island on the shore of Lough Neagh, the largest lake in the UK. I was tired, noticed by Michelle, and on the way there I shut my eyes in the back… and so they chatted merrily away about assorted musical subjects. The trail was fun, the weather really good. Later, after a supermarket shop, we all went for a lovely meal out at a fab restaurant in Belfast called Blu that we had not tried before. I had the largest scampi that I have ever seen in my life, and they were delicious, as was the rest of the meal; the ambience of the venue was great, with cool lighting and subdued music, and the service was very attentive. Near the end of the meal I went to Las Vegas, well, actually, the ladies loo, but as you can see from the photo it was easy to confuse the two.

Blu toilet LR

On the Sunday I was at the end of my garden by the road, starting digging lawn up for a flower bed, when who should come along but my neighbour from up the road – my heart was pounding as I chatted to him, but the conversation was nice enough. He asked where I was from, whether I liked the countryside, and so on, he then said I looked a bit like the guy who used to live there that he had not seen in ages… and I felt SO anxious, unprepared for a revelation, that I merely said “oh”; the chat carried on a bit more, and then he said “well, it was nice to meet you”.

29th September

I got wolf-whistled as I walked to work – I have no idea whether it was someone who fancied me, thought I looked nice, or was taking the mickey… but it was quite fun.

30th September

I wrote a reference for my PM… seeing as my boss hadn’t bothered to make the effort – I was only to pleased to do so, as he has done a great job and been so very supportive and caring about my welfare since I started living life as a woman… though I practically cried doing it, thinking about him leaving. Must be the hormones!

Getting off the train after work a regular commuter who I have never spoken to before pressed the button to open the door, and then stepped back a bit and gestured for me to exit first – ah, what a gent, and I thanked him in a voice that, for once in those last couple of weeks, I was really pleased with.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

So that was my September, nothing outstanding I suppose… other than living in my true gender. I haven’t written about half the things that happened I guess, well not in any detail – I get complimented from time to time, and that is nice, guys working at both Newry and Dublin stations are regularly nice and friendly (the one in Dublin often chatting, and saving a paper for me for the train), and Meetup events which I have forgotten the detail of. But, overall, despite the voice problems, life still feels good… and, most of all, right.

Reflections of Slovenia

It’s almost a month since I got home from Slovenia. Of course it feels like a lifetime, although the memories are still vivid… because it was SUCH a wonderful holiday. I wish I was still there, rather than back in the routine, high-pressure drudgery of work. So I thought I would summarise and reminisce a little about that first holiday away as Andrea rather than post a typically diary-like post.

What do I think of Slovenia as a holiday destination?

Well I was only based in one village, although saw quite a bit of the region around it, so cannot comment on the whole country. As per the scenes depicted in photos in my previous two posts, I think it is a beautiful place with spectacular scenery. It is good for active people, walkers, cyclists, or mountain bikers alike – there is a good network of paths, although with a minimum of cable cars then to get anywhere high one must generally rely on one’s own fitness… although with that comes a sense of achievement when certain walks are completed. I am not a city-person, but fellow guests told me that the capital city of Llubjana is very attractive, and from pictures this would seem to be the case. There are also an amount of water-related things to see and do, including lovely lakes (quite a few of which can be swam in, some even being rather warm), impressive waterfalls, steep gorges, and rivers with rafting available; there are a number of cave systems too, one of which I saw about 26 years ago (though not as the real me of course), which I remember being very impressive… though I understand it is now quite commercialised. The local food and beverages are also very good.

What are Slovenian people like?

From the experience of my holiday I have to say that Slovenian people are almost all very nice, apart from the bus drivers who come across as rather grumpy… though that may be in part because I likely pronounced all of the place names incorrectly, although not so incorrectly that they didn’t know where I wanted to go. I was told, upon my return, that Slovenians are honest and up-front people who will either tell you or give you an obvious indication if they don’t like you – well, I didn’t notice any of that, wherever I went on my walking adventures people were friendly and greeted me with a generally cheery “Dober Dan” (good morning in Slovenian), or similar for the afternoon, or another greeting which I still can’t quite pronounce; so I can only conclude that nobody found me to their obvious dislike.

The hosts at my little pension hotel were extremely friendly, warm and welcoming, and ever so helpful; it was more like staying with friends who wouldn’t let you do anything at all to help!

The Slovenian language is quite unlike any other I have ever experienced, and I was told very difficult to learn. Luckily pretty much everyone speaks English… to a very good standard.

How did I feel during my first holiday as Andrea?

My first emotions after having been shown to my hotel room were ones of heart-warming delight; the view from my room was stunning, the warm welcome amazing, and everything felt perfect. As I ventured out for a short walk around the nearby lake these emotions soon turned to tearful astonishment and amazement… because, less than two years after having ventured into the real world for the very first time, I was not only living full-time as a woman but I was on my very first long holiday, having used a passport with my female photograph to get there.  The next day, as I started my first walk, in the afternoon, I felt very lonely and sad, that although I was away on my long holiday in a lovely place I was away for the first time on a long holiday all by myself, without my brother or my daughter accompanying me, in the knowledge that they can’t come to terms with my choice to live my life in an honest way that is natural to me; but in the evening these feelings vanished as I got talking to very friendly British guests. The emotions for the rest of my holiday were pretty much the same – joy, contentment, and HAPPINESS… and that is what life is all about!  But, unsurprisingly, the feelings took a nosedive on the morning of departure, and when I paid my bill I was sniffly and close to tears.

How accepting of transsexuals are Slovenians?

I don’t know whether this question sounds a bit odd to any readers, but it was a question that a friend of mine (also a transsexual woman) asked me by email a few days into my holiday. Well, my honest answer is that I have absolutely no idea! Why? This is because during the whole of my stay in the country, and in fact including the journeys from my home to Slovenia and back again, I did not once receive even the merest hint from anyone whatsoever that they considered me to be anything other than a cis-woman; everyone treated me like any other woman, and numerous times I was addressed or termed “lady”, “she”, and “madam”… or “senora” by the group of Italian school children that I encountered on one day. My “no idea” response may well be for a number of reasons:

  • It could be that everyone these days is so open-minded that nothing makes anyone bat an eye-lid, however unusual; however, in early exploits out as Andrea, with sub-standard hair and on a learning curve appearance wise, I do know this is certainly not the case.
  • Perhaps I am so good at appearing as my female self that nobody ever notices anything about me that suggests I was not physically born as a woman; well, I know that this isn’t 100% true either, even now, having learnt so much and now having a human hair wig, there are very occasionally just the odd hint or two from people that makes me at least wonder whether they are contemplating my transsexual nature, even if there is nothing obviously negative vibing from them. But then, as has been discussed either or on other blogs, there are a great many reasons why people observe others.

Whatever the reason, I have always stated my objective in my new life to be that I want to blend in and be treated as any other woman… and on my first holiday as my true self, that is what I achieved… and that is what made it so perfect!

P1060832 - Jasna bridge

Week 31 As a Full-time Woman – My Slovenian Adventure, Part 2 – Wonderful Scenery… and my Limitations

After my leisurely day at the end of my previous blog post my walking continued in earnest – I am not going to put loads of detail about the walks, most of it I doubt would be of much interest, especially if you don’t like walking, so I shall probably let the pictures of the majestic scenery speak for themselves.

29th August

This day proved to me that I am sensible enough to realise my limitations and not exceed them. Only 20 minutes into my planned walk my chosen path soon became overgrown with robust conifers, which soon became scary with the path dropping away hundreds of feet… and then the path disintegrated altogether in places in sheer scree slopes, and so I turned back and completely changed my plans. I walked several miles along a generally level path, then up to a saddle between almost white limestone peaks. I had planned to descend into another valley… but the path disappeared seemingly vertically around a rock with metal ropes in slippery scree… uh, no, so I retraced my steps and after descending about two hundred metres came to another, ongoing limitation – my voice. A fellow walker came across from another path to join the one I was on about a hundred metres above me, he saw me descending and shouted ‘come’ (in Slovene), but I just couldn’t shout back, my voice just cannot do that… but having seen the path on the other side, and being quite tired, I ignored him and carried on, all the way to the bottom of the valley, and then along a river to a bus stop to return to my pension on the other side of the mountain pass. I waited… and waited… and waited for the bus and, after over an  hour I gave up and started walking down towards the next village… only for the bus to then come around the corner, so I stuck my hand out and he stopped to take me back… with a slightly sour-looking face.

While on the balcony of my room I heard English-speaking voices next to me from a couple who had come out from the room next to me, so I said hello and introduced myself, and told them a bit about the area… and then at dinner we had a longer chat; they seemed very nice.

P1060948 Javolec walk 1

30th August

P1060994 - slope toward TrentaThis was the most strenuous walk of my holiday. I took the bus to a village called Moystrana, then walked eight miles along a valley to the base of the highest peak in the whole area, called Triglav. However, that was not my destination, I am not a mountaineer, though, including the height gain from the bus stop I did climb 3700 feet to a saddle between Triglav and another high peak, including about thirty minutes climbing a scree slope occasionally with the help of metal ropes, and then descended the same height along a more manageable path on the other side to a small village called Trenta where there was thankfully a visitor centre with lovely toilets and a tiny supermarket to stock up with water, half a litre of which I downed more or less straight away after doing my walk in temperatures approaching 30C. I did that walk in one of my summery skater skirts and a white lacy vest top and felt nicely girlie and a certain freedom with my walking… and, for some reason, I seemed to get a lot more guys saying hello to me (mostly in Slovene).

Back at the hotel, once showered and changed, after dinner I had a lovely long chat with my neighbours Carol and Barry about assorted holiday destinations; they were great company.

31st August

This was another day where things did not go quite according to plan. After a bus ride to Moystrana again, I walked up another valley for a while, but there were too many trees obscuring the mountain views, and my legs were frankly not up to lots of climbing either… so I turned back, but overall I ended up walking 18 miles, with a short bus journey partly back towards my hotel village where I got off early to take the picture below, followed by some further walking.

P1070011 - Godz Hayracks

1st September

P1070062 lady's face in rockThis was alas the final day of walking and of my wonderful holiday… and so I was hardly going to have a relaxing, uneventful day! I did another valley/climb-type walk, from Ratece, along lovely flower-meadows, past ski jumps where school children were practising, and eventually up, and up, and up, a 3750 foot climb, finally to the summit of something, a mountain called Sleme – it was quite tiring, but so rewarding with incredible views around every corner. An hour’s walk brought me to the top of Vrsic mountain pass, from where I climbed about 15 minutes to view an unusual natural rock formation, Ajdovska Deklica, the face of a woman naturally present in the rock. I descended the valley, sometimes along the mountain road built by Russian prisoners at the turn of the 20th Century, and eventually got back to my Pension, a walk of around 15 miles.

During dinner one couple that I had talked to throughout my holiday said goodbye, as they were leaving early the following morning, and later I had a long chat with Carol and Barry before saying goodnight, and going to my room to start to pack my suitcases.

P1070045 - Sleme and sheep

2nd September

Sadly the time had come to leave Slovenia and my lovely hDSCN0934 KG church - lowresome-from-home pension. After breakfast and packing the rest of my bags, I paid my bill to Frank, and told him what a lovely time I had had and how his wife and him had been so friendly and helpful, and I had to resort to a tissue to dry my eyes because I was SO sad that my wonderful holiday with them was over. After a wander to the village centre for a final look around, including a visit to the church that I had not been to before, with quite a lavish interior, I returned to the pension and soon had to say goodbye to my wonderful hosts with a hug and a kiss on the cheek from each; Frank carried my bags to the minibus… and then we were on the way to the airport after picking up some guests from a couple of other hotels.

The journey home was uneventful, I got madamed on the Easyjet flight, when I bought a drink and then exiting the plane, and on the Ryanair flight a guy helped me with my case into the overhead locker… and by 11.30pm I was home… to a VERY cold Northern Ireland!

Living Full-Time as a Woman – Weeks 25 & 26 – Six Months without repetition, deviation, or hesitation… but now marooned at home after a severe blasting :-(

Monday 20th July

I wore a lovely, floaty John Rocha dress to work… that nobody commented on (grr), though Audrey liked my nail colour and Mary liked my shoes; had a nice, girly chat with both of them.

Tuesday 21st July

I got emails from my daughter, who is at Irish summer camp, and a guy that used to work for me who I haven’t heard from since Christmas… because at that time I was spending the last week with my daughter for what has turned out to be a long, long time, and then dealing the after-effects of my news to her… and then wondering ever since how I tell this guy that I am actually a girl. I had a really nice chat with an East European girl at work who I have never spoken to before, who initiated the conversation by saying how lovely my top was… not that I am likely to wear it that much because it creases while worn like nobody’s business!

Wednesday 22nd July

I was in a low mood as I realised it was six months since I have seen my daughter, as detailed in my previous blog post – I was weary, tired, disconnected, and clumsy. I had a meal in the evening with my two girly friends at Ed’s diner, and felt rather stuffed at the end of it; we got ‘ladied’ several times, and I got addressed as ‘honey’ for the first time which was nice.

Thursday 23rd July

I saw Debbie, a lady I have known to casually chat to on the train/platform for years, once off the train as we came down the escalator from Dublin station, and she said “I have to say, you’re looking fab!”, which was really nice, and appreciated as I was in a new summery outfit with wide-leg white trousers; we chatted about her recent hols before going our separate ways. In work Fiona said she loved my outfit too, that everything matched, and said “I’ll have to come to you for fashion advice” which is a huge compliment!! I was then mis-gendered at work by a guy who introduced me to someone and then started his next sentence “he…” though he immediately corrected himself… but it still made me feel really uncomfortable and deflated despite the earlier compliments… which I suppose proves that some people, such as me, tend to focus on the negative too much rather than the positive. I was quite happy with my voice on a conference call, where I was prepared to argue my point with someone trying to dismiss it. I met the nice East European lady again when I went to talk to someone else, and she said “you’ve brought summer into work”, then she compared the colours of our clothes compared to the guy we were with and she said that “we are two girls in pink”. On the train I was sitting with an oldish couple and their granddaughter, I closed my eyes as I was tired and after a while the girl announced that she needed the toilet “but the lady’s asleep”… so after a few moments I opened my eyes, and then the girl whispered “she’s awake!”. So, apart from one incident, lots of positive gender moments.

Friday 24th July

I wore a more casual, summery outfit, and Susan loved my trousers. For lunch I went out with Kenny to an authentic Italian restaurant where we had some nice paninis – it was quite loud in there, but most of the time he could hear me… something I often worry about, my quietly spoken voice.

Saturday 25th July

White Rocks Coast 3The forecast was, for once, good, and I was determined to do something different even though there were no meet up group events and no friends available for doing anything. So I drove for two hours to the northern Antrim coast to do some exploring of places that I had not been to before. I went to Downhill Demesne, a National Trust property that did not really inspire me – there was a huge, ruined house, but there was no interesting architectural detail at all as far as I could see; some of the coastal views were okay though, but it was cloudy, so after a while I headed east, and by the time I had got to Port Rush the weather had brightened considerably. Once away from the seaside town I was able to stop and explore the interesting scenery around WDark Hedges (V)hite Rocks Beach, so named for the limestone rocks and cliffs that stood to the east of it, with some amazing arches sculptured by the waves. I drove on a little, stopped for a quick photo of ruined Dunluce Castle perched on the edge of the cliffs, then on further along the Causeway road, where I stopped to take a look at a ruined castle, then along the coast road with splendid views to Kinbane Head for a walk down the cliff path to a pleasant secluded rock beach and another ruined castle. After a stop at the ladies toilet in Ballycastle at 6.00pm, it was home-time, but barely 20 minutes into my return journey the main road was closed (due to bike racing) and the traffic was taken down an assortment of B-roads… which serendipitously took me to another, unexpected tourist attraction called the Dark Hedges, a tree-shrouded avenue used in the filming of Game Of Thrones (or so I overheard from someone who had also stopped).

Monday 27th July

I had a girly lunch out with my work friends Liesa and Nuala to wish Liesa goodbye on her last day at work… except that it turned out that her plans had changed and she was now staying on, which was good news… for me, anyway. I received a load of photos from my daughter from her summer camp, which I showed to Susan, Fiona, and my PM Pat  the general consensus was that my daughter was stunning / beautiful, Susan said she should be a model and then earn enough money so I don’t have to work (LOL), I said I honestly don’t know where she gets her looks from, only her lips she really gets from me, and Susan said “Well, you hair’s quite long, like hers…” and, well, I can only hope that one day my hair will be that long because of course at the moment, as is apparent if you have read previous blog posts, I am still growing my own hair and currently still have to wear a wig… even if it is human hair, but it’s good she doesn’t seem to notice.

Wednesday 29th July

In the evening I met up with Michelle for a late supper at M&S café, the usual toasted sandwich and salad – she had told me to only come if it wasn’t out of my way, as it was late, but I was determined to… because I had a six month anniversary that I DID want to celebrate this time, it was six months since I came home from work, shed male clothes for the final time to start my new full-time life as the woman I now feel I should have always been. And this six months of life as a woman I have completed successfully without any hesitation or deviation at all (because it all feels so totally natural, like it should have always been, and every day has been positive), and I have also achieved my own little goal of not wearing the same outfit to work on any two days in that six months, I may have worn the same trousers or cardigans on several occasions, but there has always been one item of clothing covering, at least, my top half (either a top, jacket, or dress) that has only been worn once during the entire period! I am now also into week 10 of my gender-clinic Real Life Experience (RLE).

Thursday 30th July

OUCH! Today was my first, full-case and neck laser hair removal session… and it was REALLY intense and SO painful. I had applied Emla cream several times before I arrived, which is supposed to allegedly help with the pain, but I can only guess that I didn’t apply it very well because there didn’t seem to be much of a pain reduction as far as I could tell. When I arrived I had to wipe all the cream off, then wait for a while until paperwork and preparation was done, then the laser began, going backwards and forwards across my right cheek and neck, then my chin, then above my lips, and finally my left side. The nurse told me to breath deeply as she worked away, which I suppose was to try for me not to tense up quite so much… but when I climbed off the bed once finished my legs were like jelly, and she led me to a nearby seat and got a glass of water as I sat there trembling uncontrollably, and then eventually I went out to the waiting room so that the next person could go in… and then I cried, I don’t know why, whether it was because of the pain finally hitting me. Eventually I left, and got home about three hours after leaving, feeling totally exhausted and drained… and spent most of the rest of the day in bed.

Friday 31st July

I had hoped to get into work…. but when I awoke my face was still pink and blotchy, and also quite sore and tender too, and thus there was absolutely no way I could shave or apply make up to be presentable, and so had to stay home, though I did monitor my work email box the whole day and reply to a few things.

Saturday 1st August

This time I woke up and my face didn’t really look pink at all, though a bit tender but not actually sore, so I did shave, though left it until I really need to at lunchtime… and alas by the time I had finished my face was very pink and rather sore again; I applied lashings of aloe vera, which seemed to calm it down. At about 3.00 I went out, did some shopping and clothes-returns, and then met my friend Lynda at 6.20 at Sprucefield where we had a lovely chat for an hour over afternoon tea (well, for me, anyway). Poor Lynda was a little bit sad as her dog is going to be put down soon due to old age, and I was a bit teary-eyed over the phone when she told me earlier in the day, but our chat was good and not overly melancholy. Then we headed over to Lisburn Omniplex to see the latest Mission Impossible film, Rogue Nation… which was REALLY good, best film I have seen this year, great action sequences, with a Tom Cruise who never seems to look any older. About halfway through the film my face started to feel a bit itchy, and when I got home I wiped my foundation off as quickly and carefully as I could, and applied Vaseline as dictated by the laser nurse.

Sunday 2nd August

I woke during the night with an itchy face, though some aloe vera seemed to sort it out… but alas when I got out of bed at about 10.00am and looked in the mirror my face was a mess! Quite a number of little whiteheads all over my chin, and some also above my lips, and on cheeks and neck! Oh no, like teenage acne in miniature all over again… and then I remembered the nurse had said that I could get a skin infection if I shaved too soon, and so I can only presume that that is what it is… so I spent the whole day indoors with no make-up at all, cooling my face with a cold flannel, applying alternately Vaseline, aloe vera, and also savlon to the whiteheads that I just had to pop (I know I probably shouldn’t)… but more and more of them seemed to come during the day, I could literally feel them itching to break through and then an hour later they were there! I am SO worried what state my face will be returning to work on Tuesday, and have had to sadly cancel my plans with Kirsty for 3rd August (as I write) following advice from the laser clinic on my semi-ruined face.

Yours grumpily,

Andrea

x

White Rocks Arch