Thursday, 27 November 2014

Perineal hair removal update

Back in May I detailed my first perineal LASER session, here, and this is a useful link to read for a more detailed description of how the whole procedure works.

Since then I have had 4 more sessions, 5 in total, and would have had a final 6th as we are allotted with our funding. However, you have to cease all forms of hair removal 2-3 weeks before surgery to let the surgical site heal so it's not irritated at the point of surgery. Trying to get that 6th LASER squeezed was not really possible and this meant having to say my goodbyes to the lovely Lynne at the Exeter Nuffield. She has been amazingly supportive in her own way, and we parted company and made sure we gave her a small gift to thank her for what she has done. I received a card from her a week later thanking us!

The LASER itself has reduced the hair by quite some degree. Given that Mr. Thomas the surgeon has said I need no removal at all, means that everything is a bonus. All that is left are some pesky fair and fine hairs on the shaft, some dark ones round the base and a stubborn patch of dark ones running down the shaft but close to the base on one side with the other side completely clear.

I noticed the fair ones a few months ago and approached the lady that does my facial electrolysis with the intention of zapping these out with this old fashioned, slow and extremely painful but reliable method. It actually took three sessions of facial electrolysis before I finally plucked up the courage to ask. It's not every day you have to ask someone to do delicate work on your penis and I was actually unsure how to even ask.

I did get the words out in the end, and her reaction was it was not an issue but could I take the pain? I told her not to worry about that and we had a 30 minute session. The sensation was "interesting" for want of a better word. It was painful and definitely more so than facial electrolysis. However, because this was new territory we only cleared about 40-50 hairs.

The next time, I booked a 2 hour session with the intention of having an hour down below and an hour on the face. We cleared many more hairs this time although we were still trying to leave the darker ones for future LASER. More area was covered and it is apparent the difference in sensation there is around the penis. Some areas are very hot and burning and other areas are more like an intense throbbing inside that is very weird to feel. I wimped out in the end and we ended up with about 50 minutes in total. I also had a bruise form afterwards and there were quite a few red marks that did fade over a couple of weeks. I also had another session about 4 weeks ago that was very similar.

Now that the LASER had finished, I have decided that I want to clear as many remaining hairs as possible. I have been advised that during surgery, Mr. Thomas will scrape some follicles that are left if there aren't too many but it can lead to a slower recovery time in that area due to damage. My thinking is that the more I can clear now, the better it is for me. I have booked three hours over two weeks up to the threshold and yesterday was the first of these.

It was to be a full hour this time, as I had no option of facial to move on to. We also didn't have to bother picking out fair hairs, we just went for clearing everything. She worked very quickly and I expect we got over 200 out in that time. I was very sore by the end and 24 hours on, it is still a little delicate down there. I was very pleased with the results though. There is virtually nothing on the shaft at the moment and just a few around the base. There is still another 2 hours yet and although it's not going to get everything, I feel I have made a good effort in this very tricky area of hair removal.

A note on pain relief!  
It should be remember that electrolysis is painful. If it doesn't hurt, it is not working and the whole point is to turn the current up to as high as bearable whilst not burning the skin. I have not used any pain relief whatsoever in my electrolysis because I like to know how intense the feeling is so I can gauge the effect. I have an incredibly high pain threshold and this means I can take it, it doesn't mean anyone else should.

There are a couple of options when it comes to pain relief. You can get numbing cream to put on the area a short time before. These are usually topical anaesthetics, Emla cream being one of the best known. You can buy them over the counter in the UK or ask you GP for a prescription. Paracetamol is another good option, but take exactly an hour before to get the best effect. 30 minutes is not enough and longer may see the effects dwindling.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Emotional changes

As I mentioned in my last entry, recently I have discover some very strong emotional changes in myself and they appeared virtually overnight.

This odd feelings started a couple of weeks ago, soon after I got my date for my GRS. Depression is something I have had to deal with because of all the issues surrounding this and it took a little time for this to lift. The anxiety that was coupled with it has been slower to go but they are two separate entities and that may take some time to completely disappear. It may even linger until I finally do have my surgery.

Sticking with the depression, as I said, it took a little while to go and for a time I still felt very "unhappy". This was very surprising as there was so much positivity in my life. Was I still depressed perhaps? This was something that did worry me because after much discussion with my GP, we had felt it was something I would come out of when I got my date for surgery. Therefore it was not clinical depression as such even if the symptoms were the same. We had agreed that I had situational depression or adjustment disorder - but now I was concerned that it may have been clinical depression all along.

I spent a good week struggling with this "unhappiness" and wondering what was going on in my mind. One good coping mechanism I have is my running. Every day, first thing in the morning I go out for a 70-80 minute run. This has two effects, it keeps me fit physically and emotionally. That hour plus is where I get me time and work through anything that is troubling me. It has not kept the black dog at bay, but has helped me get through it and make it more manageable. It has been during these runs recently that I have been trying to get to the root of this problem.

I examined why I thought I was unhappy? Everything was suddenly going really well in our lives. We had found our new flat, I had got it ready, moved and and now we were happy and comfortable in it. We also had new financial security in that we were no longer affected by the bedroom tax as we had been before. I had found a new and exciting path with my voluntary work. We also changed my old wreck of a car for a Motability car in the summer so there were never going to be issues in that department. Additionally, I have reached my ideal weight for myself and feel fit and healthy in that regard. Finally, I had my date for my GRS, the one thing that was giving me the depression.The answers were not coming and I was starting to get very frustrated with it all. 

Eventually though, I managed to get to the bottom of it. Last Monday (10th) was an emotional day for two reasons. The first was that I had a perineal LASER session at the Exeter Nuffield. Having your parts LASER'd hardly stirs emotions but it was the fact it was the final one ever before my surgery. You have to cease all hair removal a few weeks prior to surgery so that the surgical site is not irritated. I had worked it all out and there was not going to be an opportunity to have any more. This meant I had to say my final goodbyes to Lynne who has done all my LASER over the last 18 months or so. We gave her a card and a gift to thank her for everything she has done for me. She might be paid for doing all this, but she has handled sensitive situations really well and always put me at my ease. She has also been someone who has listened when times were not so good. It was quite a sad moment in the end.

Waiting for me in the waiting room was a very good friend of mine. The next part of the day was a small matter of taking her up to Brighton for her own GRS later in the week. This was one of the most pleasant long drives I have ever done. It was emotional but very positive and it was a pleasure to have been asked to do this for her. It is one of those occasions where being asked to do a favour, it then turns into them doing you an honour by asking you to do it.

We returned from Brighton in very high spirits and because of the emotion of the day, there was much less conversation. This gave me some quiet time whilst driving to ponder on things and it suddenly came to me that I was not unhappy, I was just emotional. I thought a little deeper and realised that the hormones that had done their magic prior to my depression, had actually continued to work in the background whilst I was in the fog of depression. Suddenly the fog had cleared and I had been hit with this new emotional state although I had misinterpreted it as a continuation of the depression.

I talked to Mandy about this and she seemed in agreement. I stated that I knew as soon as I got home, I would send my friend a text and then burst into tears. It was an interesting prediction and sure enough it happened. The next few days were full of this, memories of the depression would start floods of tears. Talking to my friend in Brighton would trigger more and talking to another friend about her difficulties would start me off again. I am also not as stable as I used to be in a crises either. A typical example was that my porridge boiled over in the microwave last week and made a hell of a mess. I was trying to get my breakfast and Mandy's done, and I got completely flustered by it all. I ended up unable to do anything, it was just too much! Even small things suddenly have more meaning. I was struggling with it all last weekend and I was speaking to someone on Facebook. I hardly knew this person but when I said I was feeling very emotional and finding it hard, they simply said "hug". Suddenly this word had a more massive meaning than it had ever done before.

It has been quite an interesting time and I found it a little overwhelming initially. I have learned to accept it though over the last week or so and found it easier to just go with it all.I wrote about finding the woman in me in May and felt that the hormones had finished working their wonders then. It seems there was more in store and perhaps there is even more to come in the future. 

However, it will all be on hold soon. In 10 days, I have to go through the dreaded stopping of the hormones for my GRS. I have no anti-androgen in my system so I am going to get a testosterone surge as well. It will make for interesting writing, but the experience? We will have to see...

Thursday, 13 November 2014

A recap!

It's been regretful that I had to stop contributing to this blog but I was struggling to deal with everything and to have continued writing would have led to some very depressing reads. I did not want to inflict this on people who don't know me and kept my support to my circle of contacts and friends.

Things have changed now and I am now progressing towards my GRS (Gender/Genital Reassigment/Reconstruction Surgery). This following is what has happened over the last three months. It could get long, but I want to clear this up now and then start on more exciting matters! 

It's been a tough time and I now know what depression feels like. I have never used the term to describe being down, as some do, and am glad that I haven't. Depression is absolutely nothing like being down and is a different beast entirely. I have had months where one moment I feel ok and then suddenly I am in tears and struggling to cope with feeling of emptiness and pointlessness. It got to the point where I didn't even know what the triggers were and the randomness of it all was as distressing as the symptoms. 

Added to this was a massive dose of anxiety. It is often paired with depression but the two are completely different issues. The difficulty is they they both follow or trigger each other so you are often left with little reprieve. I could count the number of days in the last four months on one hand that I have been completely free of either. The reason for my anxiety falls squarely at the door of the Laurel's gender clinic due to their past mistakes leading to a massive distrust of the medical profession. This carried on to my referral for surgery and even now I do have severe worries that my surgery will still not happen.

In over three months I had had no communication from the hospital concerned unless I had contacted them. My GP had at one point, due to being concerned for my state, written to them but they rang me back saying they could not even guarantee which quarter next year it would be. During early October I was told by a contact that dates would be issued very soon and indeed I found people on Facebook posting their dates. No phone call ever came for me and I contacted them. Typically, the surgeon had released his diary for January and February and they released the dates only to run out immediately on reaching my name in the queue. I would be contacted again as soon as more dates were released and I was first in the queue for March. They told me they were currently hassling the surgeon for more dates and it would be soon.

This eased my concerns for a time but gradually the anxiety returned and I started worrying that they had forgotten me again. I got to the end of October and during an appointment at the Laurel's, my therapist rang them to query what was happening. I managed to overhear the whole conversation and it was not pleasant. In fact it was a shouting match by the end and heard that I would have to wait until December at least before more dates would be released. This was Wednesday fortnight ago and I was in a dark place. The next day however saw me a little better and at least I didn't have to wait for the phone to ring any more. I could put this to one side and forget for a few weeks. 

That very day (Thursday), the hospital rang and spoke to my partner. Suddenly, after being told I would get nothing for at least 5 weeks, they had a date for me! She said I would accept anything but they advised that they needed to speak to me. I was out and my partner sent me a text message advising me of this. I drove home like a maniac and got straight on the phone. The formalities were discussed, a couple of cancellations had occurred and I was offered Tuesday 13th January as my date for surgery. I needed no time to think about it and accepted there and then.

During these troubling few months, several very positive matters had progressed in our lives outside of all of this. One of these was securing some social housing with the local council. My partner could no longer handle the stairs in our house and we needed ground floor housing for her to be able to live comfortably. Getting our flat had been a very hard fought battle and we were very excited about moving in. The news of my date was the day before  our move and suddenly the good news threatened to derail everything! I had to keep focused and concentrate on first hand issues. I had my friend Susan helping us move and it was good that she was there when I received the news of my date as she has been very important in helping me get through it all.

I had worked incredibly hard with our flat, with 6 whole days painting and several more packing, moving and unpacking. This led to a situation where I could not quite get to grips with the reality of my surgery and it has only been the last few days where the depression has completely lifted. Now I have a realisation that it is not far away; just over 8 weeks in fact. Today has seen me find all the information and paperwork involved and it has been good to refresh myself on matters. 

Another important development during the last few months and that was achieving a normal BMI. I had written previously about weight loss and despite my depressive state, I was able to stay focussed on my exercise and eating. For the first time in my life I got my BMI into the mid 24's and am managing to keep it this way. I only needed to get below 30 and am very pleased to have literally gone all the way in this regard. I have needed to completely replace my wardrobe though but now that I am a size 10/12, I find charity shops contain many good clothes that now fit me. Another plus of our new flat is that I have fitted a full length mirror in our bedroom and I can see the effects of the weight loss. Believe me, it looks good!

My voluntary work has also seen some changes since the summer. I still had my work in the charity shop but then at the end of September, it was announced that it had to close for financial reasons. Suddenly I was left in a position where I was going to have nothing to do whilst waiting for my surgery. Luckily, Mandy and me went to a disability exhibition and we encountered someone who worked for a charity that had supported us last year. When I told her I was going to be without anything to do, without hesitation she asked if I would like to join their organisation. I mulled it over and last Friday I started training to become a case worker helping disabled people fight for their rights. I work up to the end of the year in a training role and then return probably in April with the intention of having my own clients and cases. I have gone from factory environment, to shop and now to office based work. This is a massive change and I feel perhaps I have found where I should be with the talents I have.

So, in amongst all the doom and gloom, there have been some massive steps forward. It is only now I can see what Mandy and me have achieved and I feel well positioned for my upcoming surgery. I have had some interesting emotional changes with regards hormones and I will write about them in another post.

I have quite a lot to sort over the next two months and I feel that January is going to arrive quite speedily. In fact, December 2nd sees me stop my hormones in readiness and that seems very close indeed! I look forward to writing about everything up to the surgery and depending on how I am with it all, as much as I can during my recovery.

Lucy x

Wednesday, 12 November 2014


It's been a few months since I last contributed anything to this blog. It has been a tough time and I have been in a very low and dark place. This would have made for some very negative writing and I did not want this to happen.

Things have changed dramatically in the last couple of weeks and I will get writing again possibly as soon as tomorrow (Thursday 13th November).

I'll have an update of the last few months and then we are resuming the journey to my GRS again. I'll have more news on this when I write.

Lucy x