Two difficult days, the spiral and the help received

The two days which followed my last post were very difficult days, the worst thing about it is I can’t really put my finger on why but I can’t ever remember being so easily reduced to tears in my life. Just how much of this is due to my hormones I’m not sure but think they are playing a part. How it works is very straightforward really, something or someone upsets me and I start the downward spiral, after that the smallest things affect me and send me further down the spiral and it’s a real problem arresting it it getting back on an even keel again. The further down I get the more the negative side of things affects me and the more difficult it is to get back up. So this morning I managed to get a cancelled appointment with my psychologist. ┬áNow she has always helped my state of mind, I only have to be with her for a short time and start to feel better but this time was different, I don’t think I have been as far down the spiral when I have seen her before and as I mentioned earlier, this time I really don’t know why I’m down there. This appointment was different, she was much more serious about my state of mind and if I’m honest much more strict with me, she is usually happy for me to talk about what has happened since my last visit, the ups and the downs giving advice along the way and generally keeping me on an even keel and has been truly amazing in the way she has helped me over the last year or so but this time she pushed me much more than usual, at times it felt very uncomfortable, she didn’t allow me to deflect questions like usual (she thinks I am good at that, must be the sales person in me!) this time making me really think and actually really work hard at getting to the bottom of my current state of mind. For almost an hour she pushed me, then told me what things she thought were affecting me and why then showed me several ways of handling them. It was like she lifted a great weight off me, gave me exercises to do when I am feeling stressed and heading down the spiral, how to form habits of things which help to arrest the feelings of depression, even how to breathe better!. This is another example of how lucky I am to have the support I have, I must admit when my GP suggested I should have some professional support at the very beginning of my journey in September last year I was sceptical as to how necessary it was and must also admit that I was petrified the first time I saw her but her help has been amazing and even more so this morning when I really needed help. I used to think there was such a stigma attached to seeing any sort of counsellor but I can honestly say it is worth every minute. I think both my amazing partner Denise and I will be very pleased when we get back from Philadelphia, we are both mentally and physically drained and it makes us both realise how lucky we are firstly to have each other but also to have the incredible support and love we have received.

Too much time to think about things!

I’ve been here before! Today has been an uneventful ordinary day in which I did some shopping, did some washing and a whole heap of other jobs around the house, not very exciting but jobs which needed to be done and that gave me some satisfaction. I think the problem today has been a mixture of too much time to myself, surgery which is fast approaching and a comment made in an email to me a couple of days ago which questioned whether transitioning in Busselton was the right thing to do? What is it with people who think I should move to where no one knows me in order to do what was necessary to give me some peace in my life by becoming the person I should have always been? I don’t get it at all, the person in question has not seen me for almost three years and I have only recently told her that I have transitioned and why, it just seems a very weird comment to make. I want to say once and for all I am proud of what I have achieved this year and very thankful for all the help, support and love I have received locally up to now, I have successfully become Stephanie, I think I present in an acceptable manner, dress suitably and for want of a better word, pass with ease. The fact that no one gives me a second glance when I am out and about in Busselton or any other town/city makes me feel that I am as presentable as any cis gender women who live here so to suggest that I should move to Perth or some other big city is quite bizarre! Sadly it has preyed on my mind all day which has not helped my mental state.

So my surgery date is fast approaching and I am still some way off being fit and the correct weight for it. I have been stagnant around the 80 kgs mark for some time now and am struggling to get below it even though I am exercising a great deal in fact over the last three days I will have comfortably averaged over 20,000 steps each day which I have stepped up from around the 12,000 mark, I do however feel much fitter which is comforting even if the weight isn’t where I want to be. Our flights are booked, the hire car is booked and we are now able to stay in the recovery suite from the day we arrive which is a help, we will at least be able to get comfortable even if the cooking options are limited, Ardmore is a lovely area so I’m sure there will be lots of places to eat locally, I think I will be rather too preoccupied by the thought of my imminent surgery to be concerned about getting fed!

Sadly the Nannup project has not progressed much over the last few months, I am not able to put the roof sheets on by myself and the person I want to help me is very busy at the moment. Hopefully we will get at least the roof on before we go to Philadelphia. I have however spent a couple of very enjoyable days making the place as bushfire ready as possible. The area above the house is now tidy, most of it has been raked and the leaves and branches burned along with the pile of debris which the ground works crew left. It all gave me a great deal of satisfaction and I am happy that if there is a bushfire then there is not much material on the floor to fuel it, in fact there is now a huge area around the build totally free of anything flammable so I don’t think the local fire officer will have anything to complain about, unlike the property to the left of us as you stand looking at the block from the road, which looks to me as though there is much work to do to make it safe. It would be lovely to think that when I get back from Philadelphia I can immerse myself in doing the inside, there will be lots of learning curves to negotiate my way through but it will be good therapy I feel.

Decision made and surgery booked!

After a huge amount of thought and discussion I have made a decision on who will carry out my revision surgery, helped in no small part by a 40 minute long Skype conversation with the person concerned, that being Dr Kathy Rumer in Philadelphia! It was big decision but in the end it came down to the fact that I know her and she knows me, she did the original job so knows what she is up against and even though it’s a massive journey (55 hours traveling) it will not actually cost any more than going to Sydney as Kathy will not charge me for the surgery itself and will give us two weeks accommodation in the same recovery suites we used in june so the only costs will be getting there, a hire car, the hospital fees and a small amount of accommodation at each end of our stay. Not that the financial part of things is the most important as I needed to be comfortable with the surgeon and confident that it will be done well, so it’s done, I have booked the surgery and confirmed we will use the recovery suite, all that is needed now is to organise the flights, hire car and initial accommodation before the surgery.

So the challenge is on! I have just seven weeks to get fully prepared and get back down to my optimum weight of around 75kgs, it will not be as easy as it was in may as I am not able to use the bike for obvious reasons so will have to rely on eating well and getting as much gentle exercise as possible. I have made an encouraging start, on the morning after we arrived home I weighed a portly 84.1 kgs, more than I have weighed since we arrived back here in 2015 after almost 5 months of traveling but this morning I came in at 80.7 so only around 6 kilos in seven weeks which will be hard but I’m up for it as I had no problems with the surgery in may and I’m sure getting to a good state of fitness helped that. There is also the job of getting into the right state of mind for the surgery, I think that is also under control as I am confident that I have made the right decision in going back to Philadelphia but as a back up I do have my psychologist Hayley to call upon and will be seeing her before I go. She has been a massive help to me over the period of my transition, just knowing that she is there is a comfort in itself.

One of the challenges of going back to Philadelphia was that I would need to apply for another visa as the one I got in February for my original trip was now invalid due to changing my name. This was a job which I was really not looking forward to as the first one was an unpleasant experience to say the least. Anyway an appointment was eventually made for 10am on Wednesday. I set off in good time at 6.30 and had the best run up to Perth I have had in years, had a toilet stop at the services just south of Perth and headed into the city. There were a couple of times I was down to around 30/40 kph but was never stopped completely, had no problem getting a parking place and set of on the 2 km walk to the American Embassy. Even though my appointment was not until 10am I decided to head up to the security section on the fourth floor as we were waiting there for quite some time when we went in February, this time though I was shown straight into security, had my bag scanned and placed in a holding locker, walked through the body scanner, checked in with the guard then taken to the lift and up to the 11th floor, I couldn’t believe how easy it had been up to now and was expecting a hold up once I got to the interview place, not so! I was told to go to desk 4 and a lovely lady asked how my day was going, took my finger prints, checked the details on my application form and told me to take a seat and wait till my name was called out, once again I was expecting a long wait but not the case, I had hardly started to read a magazine when my name was called out and I went to the desk, he asked me where I was heading, why I was going, was actually sympathetic about my having to return! He asked how I was paying for my visit so I told him and he replied “you’re good to go, your passport will be mailed to you in due course” I couldn’t really believe how easy it had been, much more pleasant than the first one. I was taken back to the lift and went down to the fourth floor to pick up my bag, again very easy, back into the lift and down to the ground floor. By the time of my appointment (10am) I had ordered a coffee at the cafe on the ground floor and was reading the paper, very pleased with my morning! To round off my visa application, my passport arrived at 7am the following morning having been sent by courier, all in all a very pleasant experience.