Last night in New Zealand

We are in a lovely place called Hanmer Springs for our last few nights. It was a very long drive from Arrowtown but having got here it was well worth it. Hanmer Springs is a very picturesque town famous for its hot thermal pools which we have sampled twice today. Varying from 36 to 42 degrees and every sort of aqua therapy you can think of plus some very small hot ones to have some real relaxation in, it has been a lovely day. We also enjoyed probably our best meal since of the whole trip in a restaurant called No 31, an experience which we both thoroughly enjoyed. So it’s back to the airport tomorrow, a one and a half hour drive from Hanmer, hand back the Rav and on to the 7 hour flight back home.

Once home I need to sort out my health issues.  They have caused me much stress over the last two weeks and vastly reduced the amount of walking I’ve been able to do which is disappointing in a land which has literally hundreds of miles of beautiful walks. It has also caused me a great deal of head issues, so lots to sort out unfortunately. On the bright side I have been communicating with various health providers while I have been away, a fact which truly humbles me to think that they are happy to talk to me via email while I am on holiday. One of said providers has found a surgeon in WA who is willing to at least have a look at me and discuss the issues I have. A big step forward I feel.

All in all, our trip may not have been as fulfilling as I had hoped but it has given me a taste of what’s here and we have seen some truly breathtaking scenery especially during our drive north on Saturday. New Zealand we will be back, hopefully when I’m fully fit and we can do some of those wonderful walks!

A difficult time but thank you!

While there is no escaping the fact that i have gone backwards in terms of my medical issues over the last two months and am pretty certain i will eventually need further surgery, there is not a day goes by that I don’t thank my lucky stars that i am the person i always wanted to be. I am also very thankful for all the help I receive from medical practitioners and the various staff involved in my care.

Tuesday was a perfect example of how well i am looked after. I had considered getting help from local medical services as i seemed to be deteriorating day by day and the pain levels increasing but had decided that it would probably be pointless as in New Zealand much like Australia, the chances of finding anyone with experience of treating transgender patients was minimal. Then on my walk on Monday evening when i had to turn back after just 200 metres because the pain was so intense i had to reconsider. I decided to see how i felt after a night’s sleep and make a decision then. Tuesday came and i was no better even after a reasonably good night’s sleep so Denise called the local medical centre who immediately gave me an appointment some 30 minutes later. I saw a lady called Ann who listened to my issues and in a very logical thorough way went about discounting certain possibilities, examined me and took a urine sample to test. It came back clear so gave me a script for some antibiotic ointment which seems to have in the short term done the trick. Ann was just gorgeous with me and i left with a lovely hug which may seem trivial to some but is a huge thing to me.

Ann is just a perfect example of how well i am cared for, the likelihood of her ever seeing me again is minimal but she gave me lots of time and listened to my story. As usual when it comes to the part about my parents not telling me about being born intersex i became upset and apologised, she was very patient and caring with me. And then there’s Denise, always there for me, worrying about me when I’m not well and always there to suggest a plan of action. Denise, you are my everything, my rock, my soulmate and my best friend. You have done so much for me, given up so much for me and expect nothing in return. I love you so much xxx

Doubtful sound, New Zealand in general and continuing frustration

Our holiday in New Zealand is just over half way through and today we had a   Lovely cruise/coach/cruise trip to Doubtful sound. It began with a cruise across lake Manapouri which was very calm, picturesque and beautiful. That was followed by a coach ride over the top of a mountain and down to the mouth of Doubtful sound. Now I don’t do coach rides, while I’m sure they would be fine if I was sat in the driving seat, coaches just make me feel sick but the trip across the mountain was very slow and I managed to keep breakfast down. We were then taken aboard another boat to cruise the sound which is one of many fjords in the area. It was a good size boat, there were about 130 of us passengers and on the whole it was very smooth. Just as well really as we had left the ginger biscuits on the table in our accommodation. Thankfully we had the ginger beer to fall back on and used it! After cruising the length of the sound we approached the Tasman sea and it became quite choppy but not too bad so one shared bottle of ginger beer did the trick. On the way back the skipper took us firstly to a waterfall and suggested we went out onto the open bow area as he inched closer to the spray. It was an amazing sight looking straight up from virtually under the waterfall, the spray wasn’t too bad so it made for some amazing photos. We then went to a place on the sound where he cuts the engines of the boat, asked everyone to go on deck and be quiet and listen to what he called the sound of silence. It was truly beautiful and even a bit eerie but in all honesty we experience it every time we go to the block at Nannup, there is an amazing quietness there with just the sounds of the birds to break the silence.

New Zealand has up to now been quite a rush to get from one place to the next but we now have some time to relax in some lovely places. Our accommodation has in general been good, particularly where we are at the moment, a very quaint old house, very homely and everything we need. The bed is comfortable, the shower is good and the cooking facilities excellent. We overlook lake Te Anou and there are plenty of places to walk.

Sadly this is where the frustration comes in, unfortunately I am unable to walk far because I am in too much pain to do so. I love walking and there are so many tracks and paths around here that it would be wonderful but it only makes the swelling worse so pointless doing it. On the bright side it is a good excuse to relax and enjoy the place even if it is by car.

This brings me to the final point of my post tonight.  Tonight I lay in the lovely corner spa bath (lovely in every way except its avocado colour that is?) soaking in a solution of Epsom salts contemplating my seemingly hopeless drift towards another round of surgery.  As I lay there I thought about how blessed I am to be having conversations, albeit by email, with two of the wonderful angels who look after me. Also to have the love of long suffering  Denise who must be wondering what she did to deserve having to look after me especially when I am down.  I will get through this and get back on track because of these people and I know how lucky I am! Continue reading “Doubtful sound, New Zealand in general and continuing frustration”

Oamaru at last after a long long long day!

Sorry but this is a novel!!!

It’s 9pm, still light and we are both about to hit the sack after one of my longest days of traveling ever!

I was up early on Sunday morning as I had much to achieve before heading up to Perth airport to begin my very long day of travel. By 8.30 the bed sheets were washed and on the line and I was on my way to Nannup. I had several jobs to complete once there, the main two being feed and water all our fledgling trees and plants as it will be some time before I am back there to do it again and try out both showers for leaks. Whilst attending to the plants I discovered we now have several kangaroos living at the bottom of the block. I saw one of them on Friday when I was there and have been aware of movement amongst the bushes and trees on a couple of occasions but on Sunday there were two making themselves very at home and were not too bothered about being observed. Despite the conflict of them being there while we are trying to grow things I really like the idea of having some semi tame ones around. With this in mind I went back to the shed where I remembered there being a couple of apples in the fridge there which have been there since well before Christmas so would be past their best to say the least. However, I thought I could find them a good home and cut them into slices and placed them on one of the left over tiles. I quietly walked down the block and stopped as soon as they saw me. Neither of them were in a big hurry to leave so I went a little closer,  put the tile on the floor and left. Hopefully they will get curious and take a look at what I left!

On my return I put another load of washing into the machine and got on with cleaning the house for our house sitters.  I had done quite a lot of it the night before so there wasn’t much left to do. I then got changed and went to visit our lovely friends next door but one for a farewell coffee before finishing the last bit of packing and setting off to Perth at 5pm. I filled the car with fuel at Myalup as it’s 9 cents cheaper there than in Busselton and as i was passing it made sense, and I then finished my drive to the airport. I parked the car in the long stay at Terminal 1 as, although my flight that night left from Terminal 4, we actually return direct from Christchurch into T1 so it made sense. I walked from the car park to T2 where I got a taxi to T4. I have to say I don’t use taxis very often in Australia in fact I can’t remember the last time I did but I was directed to the front car and was very pleasantly surprised to find a female driver. I would guess she was of Indian descent but spoke very good English and we chatted the whole way to T4. She was interested in how long I have been in Australia and where I lived etc. it was such a pleasant surprise as in the past I seem to remember not getting two words out of any taxi driver.

There is very little to do in T4 at that time of day but sit and either play 2048 on my phone or write some more of the book. Speaking of which, I seem to have ground to a halt on that front and lost my momentum again.  It’s probably to do with the shocking start to the year that I have had in terms of deaths and a hiccup in my own health but after a quick count up I seem to be close to 80,000 words so I am closing in on my original thought that there would be around 100,000.  Anyway I detest airports and especially airports on my own. Somehow having Denise with me makes it all go smoothly and there is an element of panic when she is not around. The flight from Perth to Melbourne was ok, firstly there was only two of us sharing 4 seats in the row and as the guy sat on the end didn’t seem to want the extra space I lifted the armrests up, laid on the three seats and had about an hour long sleep. It was the last sleep I’ve had and am about to give up and go to bed now but I’ve just one other thing to mention.

Once in Christchurch we found our way to the hire car desk. After a short wait to collect our Nissan Qashqai I was informed that my wheels for the next two weeks was to be a Toyota Rav4. I wasn’t concerned as I have always thought they were a “boring but nice enough” sort of car. Having said that I’ve not driven a recent one. What did disappoint me was that I was told there were no marks or scratches on it but on close examination there were lots. I took photos of them and walked back into the terminal. The girl on the desk had a quick roll of the eyes when she saw me return, they obviously know there are marks on them and hope they can charge someone for the pleasure.  Well its not going to be me or at least not for ones which are already there!   After a 300kms drive of the car my opinion has not got any better. I had forgotten that they, like the Qashqai have a CVT gearbox which I dislike with a passion, but the rest of the car was not much better. It’s not particularly comfortable, there are numerous rattles in it, the steering is vague, it feels cheap with acres of hard black plastic and the switch gear feels and looks dated. On the plus side, it’s a nice blue colour and over the 300kms it has averaged a very respectable 6.2 Litres per 100 kms so is not bad on fuel. We will just have to wait and see how it goes!!

The Airbnb apartment we have rented for 2 nights in Oamaru is very comfortable, has lovely views of the sea and looks perfectly placed for us to start our exploration of New Zealand.


Breastscreen WA

For a cis gender 50 something female the letter which arrived yesterday from the Government of Western Australia would probably not have been significant but for me it was huge. Being addressed to Ms Stephanie Rachael Vaughan was a good start although i did wonder before opening the letter if i had made some sort of misdemeanour on the driving front. Quite to the contrary it was an invitation to attend Busselton Health Campus for a complimentary breast screen. Now i have had numerous ultrasounds of my breasts over the last 6 or 7 years to try and ascertain the reason for my very painful breasts. They have always been very difficult for me as i was still technically male and presenting as a male albeit a male with very female breasts as I’ve had since the age of 12. I have however never had a mammogram. Numerous people have told me they are particularly uncomfortable but are an essential part of the early detection of breast cancer so a necessary evil as they say.

Being included in such a campaign has made me realise that to the government i am simply another female of a certain age group which is being targeted as a very vulnerable group of ladies when it comes to breast cancer. It’s like an acceptance of my gender without the questions and the government are obviously happy to now include me. I will of course attend when we have returned from New Zealand towards the end of February, I’m sure there will be some interesting questions asked but as usual i will answer them accordingly.

i did have another topic to talk about tonight but as it is now midnight and i have driven to Perth and back since 6 pm I’m going to leave it for another day. It will make for a very interesting blog so watch this space !!!

The people we meet along the way

Throughout my 33 year long career in the motor trade one of the best things for me was meeting so many wonderful people along the way. Many of these became great friends and have remained so to this day. The great thing is that it is still happening, whether it be though my business or in connection with my transition. Today was certainly no different. I have been dreading today since i booked the appointment at St John of God hospital last week but the kindness of the people who looked after me was outstanding. The procedure itself was not in anyway pleasant and after being told it would take no more than 30 minutes, 75 minutes later it was still going on i was probably not very complimentary but the staff  were all so kind and caring it made all the difference. Hopefully the results will shed some light on why i still have some swelling of my mons pubis area.

On the work side, yesterday i had the pleasure of meeting a lovely lady for whom i painted an exterior door. Sadly I wasn’t very happy with the end result as a number of flies decided they liked the smell of the paint and made a nuisance of themselves by getting stuck to it. It could have been worse though, i have plenty of paint left so if it doesn’t dry to an acceptable finish then re doing it will not ba a hardship. Having had several phone conversations and numerous text messages with the property owner before my arrival  i was fairly sure we would get along ok. I think she was maybe a little surprised at my openness regarding my transgender status and my willingness to discuss my journey but it was a pleasure to find someone genuinely interested in it. I think she was pleased to see the back of me actually as she seemed to have plenty of chores to do and i probably talked too much but she very kindly made me a cup of coffee and we chatted while it was consumed. All in all a very pleasant way to spend a few hours and get paid for the privilege and meeting genuinely nice people is always that, a privilege!

In ending tonight’s post i would like to say how much i love the way my relationship has grown with the realestate company for whom i am doing a good deal of work.  They now all know me when i go into the office and i enjoy the work they are giving me. It suits my OCD type nature and i get to meet lots of lovely people. It’s a win win situation all round!