My last blog post was the hundredth I have written so far and sometimes it's hard to believe I have been writing that long. It is interesting that if I go back two years I find two posts, "A grey day" and "Another grim day at the Laurel's". I have not linked to them because although anyone is welcome to go back and find them, they are distressing posts and I do not wish to make it easy for people to read them.
Yesterday was my first appointment at the Laurels since my GRS. I have actually been there twice since but for other reasons (as part of their PPG and with a friend for her appointment). It should be remembered as well that the clinic has improved over time for me. I made no less than three formal complaints over the two years and had all three recognised and dealt with accordingly.
To return there in much happier times was quite profound. Finally, I no longer have to jump hoops and sing their tune. Despite all the insistence that this was not the case, I have to say it was. I was always myself and never said anything that wasn't true but it did feel quite often like I had to say what they wanted to hear. Fortunately, this was well in line with how I lived my life but even occasionally at the start this went against me as they thought I was just telling them what they did want to hear; you can't win!
But yesterday, it did not matter and I walked into Lynda's office with a smile on my face and gently sat myself down.
"You still seem a little sore", she says.
"Yes, it has only been 3 months", I reply. "Actually 13 weeks to the day, not that I'm counting!"
Lynda smiles and says, "isn't it nice to count the other way?"
And it is nice. To be the other side and moving onwards from this process is finally hitting home. To go to the clinic in this position is a pleasant experience. I have to thank Lynda for helping me through the last two years. She was wholly responsible for turning the place around for me. There were time when giving up was a possibility, it frustrated me that much. To have done this could have possibly been life threatening, but she kept me in there. When there was all the shit with funding issues last year, she kept that contact open to provide a life-line. She hassled Brighton more than once on my behalf as well as being there to rant at and cry when it was too much.
I have a lot to thank this lady for and I often hear those who are critical of her. I listen to them, and I am not sure why they are so. If there was someone within that clinic on my side, it was her. Sure she has some old fashioned ideas, but they don't conflict to much with my own and she no longer pushes them onto people like she used to. She is also passionate about her work and does more behind the scenes than people realise.
So, I am asked about the future. How long do I wish to stay with the clinic? NHS England will fund me for up to 12 months after my surgery and I can come as often or as little as I want. Did I want to make today's the last session? It is strange when looking back to 2 years ago, I found myself almost running out of the clinic in tears and now I find myself with the decision to leave. 2 years ago, I'd have said thank-you very fucking much and walked out there and then. Now I am having to think about things. Lynda wants to get some insight into my year post-op as well as how our relationship (Mandy and me) has evolved through transitioning. It's a two way thing, Lynda really wants me to stay but wont outright say why. It has to be my decision. In the end, we decide on coming in three monthly now up to the end of the year. This also leaves me available to stay on the PPG. There are also other options to be involved further down the line but in a different capacity. That is something else to be thinking about.
I then go back out and wait for my appointment with Dr. Dean and he soon calls me in. He is a person who has messed me around, but I do admire the work he does for the community. I have laid my grievances with him to rest and we chat about things post-op. I like the fact we can talk about physical things instead of psychological matters and we are soon engrossed in hormones, dilation and urinary matters. I am advised that Brighton are responsible for me for 12 months and then any future care in that department goes to the local genitourinary department. We then spend some significant time talking about recent developments with regards treatment of trans people and he says he is very positive about the way things are moving forwards. It is too late for myself, but future people will eventually have a much easier ride through the system. He finally agrees to write my letter for my GRC (gender recognition certificate) form and says it will be in the post shortly.
I walk out and duly fill in my satisfaction survey. Leaving the building, the sun is shining and things do feel really good. Yep, it's good to be out the other side.