I wont do too many of these "past episodes" as I am keen to start writing about the next part of my journey. However there are a small number of moments from the last twelve months that I feel are quite poignant in getting to where I am now.
I think one of the most difficult parts of last year was my initiation in the Laurel's gender identity clinic. I did write about the first couple of assessment sessions last year prior to stopping writing and they do not make pleasant reading even a whole year on. I found the assessment phase extremely difficult, mostly because Mandy was wrongly excluded from this critical part of the journey.
This actually led to me putting a complaint in writing. I wrote a long letter about all the issues I had and how distressing it was for me. This letter conveniently got lost, so a copy was resent and I finally got a reply that was not to my liking at all. It even suggested that perhaps another clinic would be more appropriate for me. That was a pretty comical suggestion given that the next nearest is in London.
I had another go, with another long letter pointing out that it was the clinics job to treat me and not try to add another hundred plus miles to my journey. I also pointed out all the other issues I had so far but stated that I was actually happy to strike a line under all of this with the exception of one problem, and that was Mandy's exclusion.
Soon after we both received calls from the manager who was suddenly very sympathetic to our problem. After an hour on the phone myself, (Mandy had another call at least as long), we talked about what was wrong for me and we decided that it was in my best interests to change therapists. There were many problems talked over in that phone call and it seemed clear that I was not being treated correctly. We also talked about accelerating the start of my hormones, and to do this she sent me a list of blood screening I needed so that the doctor could skip the normal two appointments before issuing advice to my GP for them.
An appointment had already been made for a doctor, but I was also asked to have a brief chat with my new therapist and so we waited patiently for that date to come by. We arrived at the clinic and to say the red carpet had been rolled out was an understatement! I was almost waiting for a glass of bubbly to arrive. Lynda, the new therapist, came over and we went into her room for a chat. She also seemed very apologetic for what had happened and made every effort to make Mandy sure that she was as important in this journey as I was.
We then went for my doctors appointment which went well. He looked at my bloods and said there were no issues and he would have no problem issuing the advice for hormones. Oh yes, and I was formally diagnosed as a transsexual - that was the important bit! We talked about the future and time lines for GRS (gender reassignment surgery). It's important to remember that GRS was something I wanted, but it would happen in it's own time although that feeling was going to change. The clinical side of the hormones was deeply discussed as well as the health risk although they were pretty unimportant as I was going to take them no matter what. We left with him saying he would write that day to my GP and to expect it to be about three weeks. Again our exit from the clinic was smiles and we finally left there happy.
I waited the three weeks and another week again and finally phoned my GP's practice. I was told no correspondence had been received and advised me to contact the Laurel's to find out what had happened. I duly did this, only to find that no such letter had ever been written and not even a record of any to be written. Some investigative work was needed and eventually I was rung back to be told that the doctor had forgotten to write the notes on the day of the appointment. I was shocked that such a thing could happen and duly sent of a very angry email to the manager stating my anger about this. They were pretty quick on resolving this however and faxed a copy to my GP. Three days later I collected my prescription and suddenly I had what I needed in my hands!
I actually waited three days to start them. I had my good friend Susan as a guest at the time, and wanted to wait for some normality before starting them. Monday was then the start of it all, and I think that side of things warrants a full post of it's own. Given we are nine months into my treatment, there are some very interesting things write about!
Not long after I had my first session with Lynda, and it was like a breath of fresh air compared to what I had experience prior to this. I wont go into any details about the early sessions because they were quite unmemorable, they seemed more like pleasant chatter than any serious therapy. I have built a very solid relationship with Lynda in the time since I met her and feel she is really helping me get to my GRS.
Two months ago, I had a double appointment with Lynda and the doctor. Upon starting the session with Lynda, I was staggered to find that she was going to push for my GRS that very day. This was a complete surprise to me because the doctor had been clear about having to do twelve months on hormones. However Lynda said there was nothing more we could do together until we started on this next step and it was time for me to start preparing.
I then had my appointment with the doctor and he was also keen to go with Lynda's plan until I reminded him of the twelve months and that I was only seven months into it. He hadn't realised this and mulled it over for a short time before saying he could write the referral for the next step (a second opinion) with the proviso that I could not have any surgery before the beginning of August. This was never going to happen anyway with waiting times. We both left that day, me with a big grin and the anticipation that I was finally going to get to get my GRS!
Sadly, two weeks later a letter dropped on my doorstep from the doctor backtracking on all this. He was instead going to wait another three months before starting the referral and that I would have to wait it out. Talk about disappointment and getting my hopes up needlessly. This took me some time to get through and I have since had two sessions with Lynda that have turned into both of us griping about the wait. The positive side of this is that I am certain Lynda is on my side. However it is easy to understand why I have serious trust issues with the clinic.
This is where we are at, at the moment. May has now come and this is when that referral should be started. It has been very up and down this last week and I intend to write about this in a couple of days. I hope you will come back and have a read.