Useful, if not boring, from Your Pal Eli:
Guess what! Here’s that injection video I have been promising. I get cut off at the end, but don’t worry, I come back in print after the video:
Anyway, before my phone alarm went off and interrupted my recording, I was saying that my voice is dropping, and now cracks too. my shoulders are continuing to fill out, and I noticed a few days ago that when I put on a t-shirt I hadn’t worn since last summer my arms fill it out totally differently. The shirt is tight around my upper arms and the sleeves come down to where they should–they don’t hang a bit lower like they used to. Rad.
Otherwise, I’m not noticing much of anything else. I have had some shitty days, but I’m not ready to attribute them to T rage or anything. I’ve been sleeping better, and feeling better, since I have gotten back to the gym. I have noticed some low level anxiety, but it could be attributed to the new apartment, and getting used to that. So again, I’m not ready yet to chalk up a small surge in anxiety level directly to testosterone. Also, the headaches have gone away, which is great news.
And Now, A Quick Note on Vaginal Health
So, some guys, namely trans guys, have vaginas. If you are not one of those guys, this section may bore/horrify you, so I suggest you stop reading now.
Now that’s it’s just us dudes here, let’s have a difficult but necessary conversation.
Ok, it seems that testosterone can decimate the natural flora and fauna of the vagina, leading to bacterial vaginosis and/or yeast infections. Greek yogurt has helped keep these issue at bay for me. But should you notice some discomfort in your groin, get thee to a doctor. This stuff, while not necessarily life threatening, can be uncomfortable and discomforting. Also, these are not problems that will just “go away,” as you are actively destroying your estrogen levels, and that estrogen is needed for good vaginal health. And vaginal atrophy is a real thing, and it can lead to urinary tract problems, and you don’t want it, so let’s take good care of our bodies, shall we fellas?
I know our vaginas are the last thing trans guys want to talk about. But let’s be adults here. Let’s be good to our bodies, and let’s listen to our old pal Buck:
Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli
So, I wanted to thank you.
The one reading this right now.
As of today, My Life with Tits is 13 months and 13 days old.
This is my 150th post. And through those posts, I have been able to reach out and situate myself within a community. I have been of help to some, but mostly lots of you have been so very helpful to me. My life has been enriched though this blog, because it has brought people like J.C. Prime and Karen and Mr. Pinkie and Transman and Tam and Maddox and Juno and A and about a hundred other really incredible people into my life. I am a better person because of your guidance and encouragement, and I thank all of you so very much. You have made the world a better place by being yourselves, and by helping me to be myself. I cannot overstate your importance to me.
As of today, I have 21,000 views and 1,200 comments. You really know how to make a guy feel loved. June 19, 2012 I had the most hits. It was a heavy traffic day on my Top Surgery Checklist post. And that makes me feel pretty good–I am happy to be of use, to be of some guidance to folks considering the surgery or the hormones or whatever. To be a person other people can glean some bit of knowledge or comfort from–it’s important, you know. It’s the most important thing in this life–to be of some help to someone else.
As of today, I have 306 followers.
Are you kidding me? God, you people. Thanks for reading. Thanks for caring enough to come back.
And while many of you read and choose not to comment, and some of you comment occasionally, and some of you comment frequently and we have moved into phone conversations, or actually met in person, there is that other group, the one I didn’t count on being a part of this blog.
There are the people I know in real life, my friends and family, who read and sometimes comment. And I wanted to speak to them for just a moment, to offer them some space here, as I so frequently focus my posts on trans folks.
A co-worker commented on my last post, and jokingly called it “internet staking.” Moo was kidding, of course, but there is a modicum of voyeurism going on: my blog is public, and I linked it to my Facebook account, so anyone I know (or don’t know) can access my blog, can read about my transition, can see pictures of my body as I heal from top surgery and read about my depression after that surgery. It’s pretty private stuff, sure, but I do it for a record for myself, and to be of help to others. I want to be a part of the trans community, so I have to put something out there, you know? You all can look and read as much as you like, all access, and can do so completely without my knowing. And I like it just fine that way.
Yesterday a different co-worker, in passing, said to me, “I’ve been reading your blog, and I feel like I know a lot more about you.” And she’s right, she does know more about me now than she did before, but she also knows more about me than I do about her. And again, I’m ok with that.
What I’m getting at here is that sometimes it’s hard to ask a trans person about their transition. It’s personal, and private, and you as a co-worker, or friend, or family member, might have questions that you just don’t feel comfortable asking me in person, because, oh, it’s hard to look someone in the eye and ask them about their sex change. Or maybe you’re not skeeved out by asking me about hormone injections, but we’re on the sales floor and my testosterone is none of the customers’ business. You’re right. But I want to give you space, free of the inappropriate context of the workplace, or the tension of a face-to-face interaction, to ask me anything you want.
And this blog is just the place; it’s part of the reason I started it. I don’t just want to help myself, I want to help others. I want to put a little more understanding into the world. Let’s demystify this then, yes?
So, to anyone reading this: ask away. Ask me anything; I’ll do my best to answer it. If it’s not within reason, I’ll politely let you know, and likely I’ll tell you why the questions isn’t reasonable, but I won’t get mad.
I do ask that you leave your initials, or a first name, or whatever you feel comfortable with leaving on a public blog, just so I can know who I’m talking to. But beyond that, any identifying markers are unnecessary. And if you’re a co-worker, let’s leave the workplace name out of it, yes?
This blog is a safe space for the gender neutral, gender fluid, gender variant. But it’s also a safe space for allies to ask any serious or silly thing they wonder about. So let’s get into it. 🙂
Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli
It’s a bit confusing to label my blog posts: I will have my 7th testosterone injection tomorrow, so I have only been “on t” for 6 weeks. Actually, it’s not that confusing. Nevermind.
I type this post from my desk in my new apartment! K and I moved a week and a half ago, and we just love the place. We have a lot more space, sweet built-in bookshelves, a good amount of sunshine (when the sun is out, right now it’s raining like crazy), and our landlords and neighbors are great. But…our bedroom window opens out to the alley behind our building, and there has been a dump truck making all kinds of noise…every morning…before 8 am. I get off work almost every night at 11, so it’s going to take me a while to get used to sleeping through that kind of racket. Which is why it’s 8 am and I’m blogging.
Anyway, enough of my bragging/complaining. Here’s what you all have come to see:
-I had my first post-injections appointment two weeks ago (at the one month mark) to check my T level, liver function, and red blood cell count. Dr. J* was pleased I wasn’t having any negative side effects, and so the appointment was fairly quick. He and I spoke for a few minutes, he told me he could hear my lower voice from the reception room before he saw me, and we chatted about some previous concerns I had that have since dissipated. His nurse drew some blood from me and I was on my way.
The following morning a different nurse called to tell me my blood and liver functions were great, but my T level was a little high, so we lowered my does from .5 ml/weekly to .3 ml. I feel neither happy nor sad about the adjustment. Some dudes get upset when they have to lower their dosage, but remember, lads, when there is too much testosterone the body converts it to estrogen! Dr. J wants me in the 400-800 level range for T (just as a matter of reference, I was at 38 before the injections, which is a normal level for a female body). The blood test revealed I was sitting at 1100. Ouch! That’s high, even for a cis-gendered dude. But not to fret, this is a trial and error period so we just test and adjust, test and adjust, until we hit a good spot for my body’s particular chemistry. I go back in a few weeks to see if .3 ml is the sweet spot, or if more tweaking is necessary.
-My voice continues to crack and lower and my sex drive is still high but seems to wax and wain. I’m happy about both of these changes, and they are shifting at a rate that feels comfortable to me.
SOME NEW DEVELOPMENTS
-While the voice and sex drive changes have been ongoing, a few new things have popped up. For one, I have been noticing a headache that is more irritating than debilitating, but that won’t seem to really ever go away. It come and goes, but never completely dissipates. It’s hard, though, to parse out whether this can be attributed specifically to the testosterone, or whether it’s from the stress of moving and the concern of being on testosterone. How do we pull our lives apart and say, yes, there, that one feeling or malady is caused by a higher lever of testosterone in our system? I am always surprised by the trans guys that can parse out their lives to such a minute degree that they can attribute this or that sensation or thought or emotion to testosterone. I can’t do it. So I’m trying to relax a bit, because thinking about this all the time, trying to keep such a close eye on my changing body and mental landscape, might be giving me a headache. 🙂
-I’ve also been a bit more irritable lately, and again, I don’t know if it’s from the testosterone, or if it’s just from moving and lack of sleep thanks to my new daily, 7 am rattling dumpster alarm. Either way, it’s no fun.
-Speaking of a changing mental landscape, I think I am noticing my first non-physical, lasting testosterone change. So, normally I’m a pretty chatty person. I have a tendency to over explain, which makes me a good teacher and a condescending co-worker. I like to talk, and as I get older, I am starting to actually enjoy listening too! But recently, and for the first time in my life, I have had the impulse, on many occasions over the last, oh, two weeks or so, not to say everything that pops into my head.
It’s a strange feeling, really. I will be having a conversation with K, for example, we will be considering a new floor lamp to buy, or deciding what to have for lunch, or talking about something one of us read, and while I am engaging in the conversation a point will come to mind, and I will dismiss it. I don’t really know why. But I have never not said something for no reason before. Who knows, maybe I’m just maturing and this new filter has more to do with my age than it does my hormones. But I have been noticing a budding silence in me that, in and of itself, does not feel harmful. But when I think about it as a mental change due to the testosterone, it scares me. It scares me because I don’t know how else T will affect my mental faculties. I am pretty fond of the person I am now, and I don’t want to lose parts of me because my brain is awash in a new hormonal mixture.
This reminds me of something Karen reiterated from her son, Jacob. I can’t find the exact post to link to, but I think Jake had said something to Karen about looking forward to testosterone quieting all the noise in his head. And I can relate to that. I wonder if testosterone will quiet the inner critic a bit, will dull all the chatter in my brain. That would be a good thing. Most of the stuff in my head is garbage, anyway: lots of harsh self-criticism, too many unforgiving observations. Am I so cruel to myself because I have never been able to reconcile my appearance with my internal identity? Or is it because I have been socialized in a culture that teaches female bodied people they are insufficient? I don’t know, but I am going to try to let go of the fear (a healthy does of which our culture also instills in women) of how I am changing, and instead try to observe it from a reasonable distance. How I will do that, who knows. But I suppose I will start by trying to be okay with the not knowing. This whole process is one new corner after another, and this is just the beginning. Now is a good time to try to get used to letting go, because as time goes on, I will be letting go of more and more of the old me, and finding new parts of myself pop up to replace what is missing. But that’s true for everybody, right?
Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli
*My doctor at Howard Brown. He deals with all my hormone/trans medical stuff. He is rad.