Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Keep on Climbing in 2010

For those of you facing challenges in the coming year may you keep on climbing the path that's right for you and may it lead to happiness.

Please if you can remember to enjoy the view as you go. There will come a time when you can break free from the dark clouds that sometimes gather and once more begin to appreciate the simple pleasures in life which are so important and are so often free but absolutely priceless.

From my humble experience I have found you have strength inside you, more you than you can perhaps ever imagine to achieve your hopes, your dreams, your goals.

You have so often lifted me onto your shoulders and supported me, just like the Ocelot cub in my painting with its Mum. I have been in a tranquil special place, my Christmas came early for me. Thanks to the love and understanding you have all shown to me, I have come into the light. The eloquent Lori D recent excellent posting mentions a pink cloud, the euphoric spiritual life affirming experience I have felt since my surgery.

Sadly in reality, life away from my misty pink clouds, the world can be a cruel place. So often endangered animals like the beautiful Ocelot in my painting are killed out of ignorance and selfish cruel needless stupidity. In their case for their skins so that ugly women can wear them, the Ocelots natural habitat destroyed by mankind. The painting reminds me of the wise words I heard at a talk given by one of my friends on "The Ark" Botswana's wildlife.

In the end, we conserve only what we love.
We only love what we understand.
We understand only what we are taught.

I have not had much time to access a computer in the last few months and have only fleetingly been able to catch up with our friends blogs. I was in hospital while many of my dear friends attended the transgendered day of remembrance http:/// I recently caught up with Jo's blog and her very moving post about the tragic death of Andrea Waddell. She courageously found herself only to have her life so sadly taken. She was dearly loved and will be sadly missed. She had done all she could to live her dreams, to live a "respectable life", but out of ignorance society denied her the chance to live that life. God rest her soul.

Reading Andrea's story and the plight of the loved ones she left behind, moved me to tears and bought me down from my pink misty clouds with a bump. My thoughts turned to all of those who have tragically lost their lives in 2009 particularly those who have faced prejudice and ignorance while trying their best to do what they believed in, the innocent victims from all walks of life. Not just the transgendered , people such as the brave men and women solders who have sacrificed their lives so that we may be free and also the innocent civilians caught up in those conflicts.

Remembering these dear souls taught me a lot and reminded me how fortunate I am, how precious life is and how vulnerable we all are. How I wish we could all live together peacefully acknowledging and rejoicing in our differences, living in harmony, with love and understanding.

At this time of the year we all have our hopes and dreams for the year ahead.

Our journey through life, our climb may face many challenges in the future.

May your vision be clear & there be no limit to how far your heart can see in 2010.

Peace and Love

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Peace be with you

May Peace, joy and happiness be yours this Christmas.

With Angels (like you) for friends we are never alone.

Time after time you have reached out your hands to support us in our hours of need and touched our hearts.

May all your dreams come true in 2010.

God Bless you all

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Thank you

Thank you so much for your kindness, your support, your friendship and your love.

The peace and happiness I have been blessed with since my gender affirmation surgery is beyond my humble vocabulary and so much more than I ever dreamed possible. I am not a deeply religious person but I have found this an incredibly spiritual experience.

It feels like I have been in hibernation for a while now. Its time to take a look outside. I have been thinking of you all, wondering how you were all doing, out there in the big wide world.

I have been overwhelmed by your compassionate and thoughtful postings on my blog while I have been away. The visits I have received, the phone calls, texts and emails. You have all melted my heart and lifted my spirits. That so many of you took this trouble when you have so many worries in your own lives, is something that I will always remember and be grateful for.

Please accept my apologies for not posting a response earlier, it has been really difficult for me to get to my home and access a computer and will remain this way for a little while yet as I continue to convalesce at my parents.

Special thanks to Nicky for updating my blog. My dear friend I hope your visit to the "Smile factory" in Brighton early next year, brings you everything you wish for.

I am thrilled with my surgery. I am still smiling. The staff at the hospital were absolutely brilliant. I have not been in any prolonged pain just a bit uncomfortable. Fatigue has been my biggest challenge. I lost quite a bit of blood in hospital (bleeding from my urethra) but I have been reassured my levels were ok when I left hospital and that I am not likely to feel anything like my normal energy levels for a minimum of 8 weeks. Dilating three times a day is going well but beginning to feel very time consuming. I have recently developed a puberty like complexion which has required a course of antibiotics and the wearing of a paper bag on my head if I venture outside in case I frighten anyone. Lol!

It’s difficult for my Mum, Dad & I to find the right balance of care for each other as there is a tendency to want to do too much. Friends have been so kind to offer help to us but Dad bless him has wanted to look after me so much he overdid things. I pleaded with him to accept the kind help on offer He has been out in all weathers and at one point last week I found him slumped in a chair feeling dizzy and we had to call a doctor out. We were all very worried but thankfully after some rest he seems to have recovered. I promptly made the same mistake of doing too much too soon and abandoned my convalescing until my body said NO. We are now all taking things more steady, one day at a time. Life is good. Christmas has come early for me.

How I wish I could bottle up the peace and happiness I feel and send it to you all as gift for Christmas.

Thanks for everything.

Lots of love

Monday, 9 November 2009

Thinking of Debbie (UPDATED with photo)

Hi all, Nicky again, Debbie is going to be in hospital for a couple of days longer due to a small issue, but is in great spirits!!
So would you like to leave a small greeting as a comment on this post and I'll forward them all to her by SMS?, which she'll appreciate! (she doesn't have a laptop).
I'm visiting her tomorrow hopefully.
nicky xx
ps Debbie wanted me to post this super happy photo!!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Debbie's text messages...

Hi folks...Debbie lets me know how she's doing each day.
Mostly she asks how *I* am!!!...typical Debbie...
Tonight she sent me this by text message :

Hi Nicky
I have had a really lovely day today. Dear Jo, Lucy and two of my Mswell friends kindly visited me. I also had the treat of real food again,chicken mash. Tmorrow i hope to be able to sit in a chair. The simple pleasures in life. May your weekend bring everything you wish for.
Debbie x

Just wonderful.... :-)
nicky x

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Debbie's GRS is complete & she is fine - UPDATED

Obviously I'm not family, so the hospital wouldn't really speak to me, but Liz (the clinical nurse) very kindly briefly came on the phone at 2.50pm. I didn't like to nag them, of course.
"Obviously I can't go into detail, but the operation went well, and she's back on the ward and she's fine", she said.
I thanked her very much for taking the time to speak to me, and asked her to pass on our best wishes.
Wonderful to know that she's ok, and that all went well. She was so serene yesterday, and I'm sure she'll rest well this week.

Nicky xxx

UPDATED 4.20pm by Nicky
Debbie just called me! She sounded amazing, not in any pain (meds, I would presume), and they're keeping her very comfortable. She sounded very clear and lucid, much more so than others I've spoken to after surgeries. She's made of tough stuff! She asked me to pass on her thanks to everyone, and will try to make what phonecalls she can. I had to tell her to keep them short! so as not to tire. But she was clearly elated, but also very serene and happy.
She asked me to direct you to some music she is thinking of that explains how she feels, either by Simple Minds, or the Miley Cyrus song displayed on this blog page.
Nicky xx

Debbie is now having her GRS

Hi all, it's Nicky again.
It's 8am, I got the text message shown below from Debbie at 6am. I managed to reply to her just before she will be now having her surgery.
She made it, and is doing so well !

Hi Nicky
soon that part of me that troubled me so, will be gone forever. Please say a prayer for my mum and dad,to bring them peace. I believe in angels.
most sacred heart of jesus i place all my trust in thee.
lots of love
bless you
debbie x

Monday, 2 November 2009

Debbie is settled in hospital

As Debbie mentioned, I'll humbly try to update her blog where possible.
It's 4.45pm on monday, and she checked in at lunchtime today. Her GRS is tomorrow. I've just received this from her via text message :
Hi Nicky
I am all booked in and everything is fine. I still feel so at peace. It is the most beautiful feeling. I am in the room directly above the hospital entrance. All the rooms with a view are full at the moment, which is not a problem. All my heart can see is blue sky. Tomorrow i will be climbing so high. As long as my parents are fine, i will be too.
Bless you
lots of love
A very happy smiling

I will try to talk to her later, and get a hospital update tomorrow.
Nicky xx

Sunday, 1 November 2009

My date with my destiny has nearly arrived

Thank you so much for all your kind support. I really value our friendships & am so gratful for all the wonderful inspirational friends I have met on my journey. GRS is another process, a very life affirming process but not an end to my journey.

I will be having my surgery on 3rd November at 8-8.30.

I will be convalescing for 4-6 weeks at my parents & be away from my computer. All being well Nicky is kindly going to update my blog from time to time while I am away. I am blessed to be going to the surgeon of my choice at a hospital with very kind staff. If my parents & our doggy are fine while I am away until Tuesday week & remain healthy & happy when I return I will be the luckiest daughter in the world!

I may not be around for a while but will be thinking of you all.

I have included below details of my stay in hospital which I hope may be of interest to those of you who may be on the same path.

Time line of hospital stay for full Vaginoplasty

My procedure will be Penial inversion method
Arrive the day before surgery approx 12.00hrs

On day of admission Monday 2nd Nov:-
Bloods taken for a group & save.
Commence on a low residual diet.
Clexane given 12 hours pre-op. This is a small injection to thin your blood which helps to prevent any blood clots forming. You are given this daily for the next five days whilst you are on bed rest. (You may be seen by a psychiatrist for a second opinion at this stage if required). I have already had two suitably qualified confirmations as to my suitability for surgery.

Op day Tuesday 3rd Nov:-

Phosphate enema given to clear lower part of bowel (06.00 hrs am case, 11.30 hrs pm case.)
Ted stockings, knee length (again helps to prevent blood clots).
Seen by Mr Thomas.
Seen by Anaesthetist.

Theatre Receovery:

You will be in theatre for approxiamately three hours & in recovery until your observations are stable enough for you to return to the ward.

Return to ward:

Post op observations until following day:
blood pressure, pulse, respirations oxygen levels & temperature. 15 minutes first hour, 30 minutes second hour, then 1-2 hourly throughout night.
Your dressings will be checked on a regular basis.

You will have two drains to drain any blood from collecting around your wounds.
Catheter to drain urine from your bladder. This stays insitu until day six.
IV fluids to keep you hydrated.
Vaginal pack insitu & t-bandage over your new vagina.
IV Antibiotics for two days.

Day one Wednesday:-
Blanket bath.
Clear fluid diet.
IV Antibiotics & clexane.
Pain control.
Bed rest.
IV fluids are discontinued.

Day two Thursday:-
Blanket bath.
Clear fluid diet.
IV Antibiotics & clexane.
Drains removed.
Pain control.
Bed rest.

Day three Friday:-
Assisted wash.
Low residual diet.
Oral Antibiotics & clexane.
Pain control.
Bed rest.

Day four Saturday:-
As above
Nurses will sit you out in a chair for 30 minutes, am & pm.
No standing or walking.

Day five Sunday :-
Pack removal by Mr Thomas or trained nurse.
Teaching of dilating & douching.
Normal diet.
Last day of Antibiotics & clexane.
Pain control.

Day six Monday:-
Catheter removal with antibiotic cover.
(Occasionally you may not be able to pass urine because of the swelling of your urethra, if this happens you will be re-catheterised & the cath will stay for seven days & be removed by your district nurse.
Breakfast, dilate, bath, douche.
Super dilate, bath, douche.
Pain control.

Day seven Tuesday:-
Discharged home at 10.00am
Letter given for help at airport if required.
Letter given for GRP (This may be given at your post op check).
Letter given for GP.
Medication given to take home.
Discharge advice sheet & sick certificate if required.

When I come home I will have to undertake all the advice on the discharge sheet including many sessions of dialation. I have also been advised:-

No physical exercise for a minimum of first two weeks.

Begin carrying light weights after two weeks. Gradually increase weekly.

Bathe three times a day in a small amount of water for first three weeks.

You should not drive for three to four weeks. Legally you can only begin once you are able to do an emergency stop.

Begin very short walks with dog after two weeks.

I must stop blogging now & may be away for a while.

Your friendship means so much to me. Your kind words have lifted my spirits & are really appreciated.

May there be peaceful happy times ahead for you all.

Lots of love

Why did you transition?

I came across a picture of me pre transition which captures perfectly the turmoil I was in trying to live my life as a lie. The picture on the left was taken Christmas time 2007 & shows the strain of me having got to the point of realising/accepting I needed to & was finally ready to transition, having become so ill my close friends were afraid I was terminally ill. At this point I had always known how I was born with a body in conflict with my heart & mind but did not know if I could actually live the life full time. I had decided that for me, to improve my self esteem & to help smooth my transition into my new life I would be having facial feminisation surgery with Dr Dussen a month later in January 2008. I had not realised quite how ill I had looked at this time until I came across this very rare picture of me taken at the time.

The picture on the right is me 6months after the facial feminisation surgery. The changes were quite subtle but they were right for me, as was the new life.

I had contacted a small number of women who had successfully transitioned trying to find out what made them transition. I had wonder how some one so lacking in confidence & self esteem could possibly transition. No one can answer that question but you.

I had to find out my own truth when I was ready. January 2008 was that time. I went at a pace that was right for me & my loved ones & was fortunate enough to have the opportunity. We faced our fears together & have gained strength with each challenge we faced.

Here I am two days before my GRS totally at peace with the surgery I am about to undertake. No one could prepare you for how you may feel after the surgery but I am so grateful to be at this stage in my life.

Treasured memories:-

I wish to dedicate this post to my beloved Auntie Peg. My Mums sister, my Auntie Peg passed away this day the 1st Nov 1979 at the age of 53. We will never ever forget her. She was a wonderful sister & the kindest of Aunties.

She had been suffering terribly from kidney failure & unable to have a transplant had been put on prescribed experimental drugs in hospital to prolong her life. Between Dialysis treatments she returned home in a terrible state & tragically took her own life. My dear Mum took a telephone call which was silent that morning which she has remembered for the rest of her life. She was so close to her sister & loved her dearly. My Mum has only recently just begun to find some kind of closure such has been her grief. My beloved Aunties suicide & the pain & suffering it caused my dear Mum undoubtedly helped save my life when I have been in turmoil over my gender issues.

I have witnessed first hand the pain & anguish my Mum has gone through. The tragic reasons my Auntie took her own life & the heatache suicide can cause to those who are left. As a consequence of our experience I have always felt responsible for trying to make my Mum happy. In many ways that has become how I feel about all my friends who I value dearly. I just wish you could all be happy. In reality I appreciate we cannot be responsible for how other people feel but it does not stop us caring.

My relationship with my Mum is so close, just as my Mums had probably been with her sister. Each year I have visited my dear Aunties grave to pray for her. I promised my Auntie through my prayers that I would always look after her sister. For many years I had told her in prayer of my anguish of not wishing to hurt my Mum by divulging my condition to her. How I had tried to live to my parents wishes to not transition while they were alive. Yesterday I visited my Aunties grave to pay my respects & to share with her my life affirming news that I would be having my GRS this Tuesday. I thanked her with all my heart for giving me a chance of the life I have now.

God Bless you Auntie Peg.

Life through a kaleidoscope:-

With one day to go before I travel to the hospital for my GRS I feel so incredibly peaceful. My parents have been so supportive, my friends so kind. Life has been a blur trying to prepare for what feels like a period of hibernation, followed by something close to a rebirth. a chance to correct a birth defect to correctly realign my gender. The time when I return & the pain relief from the hospital starts to wear off will be challenging to say the least. As long as I can avoid stressing my parents we will be fine. My life has never been busier or more fulfilled. I have had some wonderful experiences & been overwhelmed by the kindness of my family & friends. There has been so much to think about & plan for.

So many emotions, so many memories. It has been like viewing my life through a kaleidoscope at times.

Very occasional paranoia induced by my withdrawal from hormones, a requirement for my surgery, has led to the odd anxiety overload. Liz Hills the lead clinical nurse had warned me not to read too much into other people’s experiences of gender realignment surgery.

She explained that you may tend to only hear about those who are unhappy or alternately those who feel their surgeon is the best & the only place to go. I am so fortunate to be going to the surgeon of my choice & the hospital of my choice. I am happy to place my trust with them but even so a little nerves are understandable.

The post op experience when I am back home & all the emotions, possible post op blues concerned me. There was a posting on a support forum called "angels" which referred to post op experiences. Foolishly rather like a child being warned not to do something I did & opened a Pandora’s Box of complex feelings. These played on my biggest fears, which actually caused me to take to my bed for a day. Liz was able to allay my fears & explained clearly why I should not worry as it should not happen to me. Wisely for me Liz has also told me not to think too much about that stage until I am through the operation & nearly ready to come home,which suits my natural anxiety.

Coming off the hormones 6 weeks before surgery has not been as bad as the fear I had of the unknown, my fear of how badly I would cope. I have been doubting my judgment even more than usual & making allowances. What was very different for me was I found myself being less passive. Every time I felt ready to bite, to say or write anything potentially inflammable, I wrote those feelings down & filed them. I then went back to look at them in the morning. Sometimes especially when my mood may be shall we say was questionable Silence was the best answer & gave me time for clarity before it’s too late. The lack of hormones & my natural anxiety are a potent but LIVABLE MIX.

I have been devoting my time to making sure everything is in place for my parents & ensuring their needs are all catered for. They have been brilliant so supportive. I am blessed to have so many lovely friends I wanted to catch up with before I go into hibernation but I found myself running out of time. So much shopping to get in so that Mum & Dad not to mention our doggy are all well looked after. My proudly independent parents did not want me to ask anyone to help them. It’s great they still feel able to be independent but I still needed to make sure there are friends on standby just in case they need anything.

My counselor is now coming down from London this Sunday afternoon so we can make any early start in the morning. She is kindly sleeping on my settee while I spend my last evening & night with my parents. They have never met her before so that is going to be one of many emotional events come Monday Morning. I am understandably becoming more nervous about the surgery but thankfully not my need to have it. Its how my parents will cope that tops my list of worries. I will be glad to be home again & through that first month of recovery. Then it will be Christmas & all the emotions that brings.

My sleep has started to suffer slightly but not too badly. I really am focusing on how lucky I am & all the wonderful things that have happened to me, the inspirational friends I have been so blessed to meet. I cannot see me sleeping at all on Monday night unless they knock me out. Memories of my childhood & the traumatic pain & emotions focused on that deformed part of my body are becoming intensely more vivid by the hour. I am understandably becoming more nervous about the surgery but thankfully not my need to have it.

(((((((((((peaceful thoughts)))))))))))

Lots of love

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

My Guardian Angel was watching over me today

Today I ended up in the wonderful care of a Paramedic called Sarah. I was involved in a near miss with a car being driven by an elderly driver reversing at speed without realising I was walking across the road behind him. I was hit but not run over. Thank God my Mum was not walking by my side. I was so lucky I came so close to having my world shattered, my dreams destroyed.
Life has a habit of never going to plan.

"What does not kill us makes us stronger" is a quote that springs to mind.

We all have our own worries, our own little worlds. It only takes a split seconds lack of concentration for our worlds to collide & our lives can change for ever.

Fortunately I had dropped my Mum off at the hairdressers to have her hair done & so I was on my own as I crossed the Tesco's supermarket car park to do the weekly shop. The driver had just driven past the main entrance. The road was clear. My heart was happy as I set off. Just at this point the guys concentration must have wavered. Concerned for his passenger, his disabled wife, I can only assume he decided to save her from having to walk too far & with his thoughts only for his loved one, reversed without looking, straight at me. I ran for my life. I often cursed my height which makes me feel self conscious & prevents me wearing high heals. Not any more. With my flat shoes on, laden with empty shopping bags, I just about avoided being hit full on as the car smashed into my side & caught my outstretched hand. My Mum would not have stood a chance if she had been with me. They were totally oblivious until they heard me bang the car as I bounced of their rear wing. The car hit me but at least it did not run me over.

I was at first in mild shock, my hand slightly grazed but I did not want to make a scene. There but for the grace of God. My elderly Dad could easily have made a similar mistake & so could I. Many a time when I have been humbly trying to do the right thing, it seems the gremlins try to strike. How many times have we ourselves driven when perhaps we should not have, our minds distracted by deep emotions? There have been a number of occasions when I have been too ill, perhaps too selfish, to realise the implications my actions could bring.

At first I thought no significant harm had been done. I tried to carry on shopping. I had a long list to get, but only managed a few more steps to get some flowers for my Mum, when my legs turned to jelly. I felt dizzy as I went into deep shock. The recent memories of my car crash in April conspired to bring all the trauma back. The closeness of my surgery, my worries about my parents, all combined to completely overwhelm me. One of my biggest fears is the safety of my beloved parents while I have to convalesce after my surgery & I cannot provide the care I usually strive to. The staff were so kind. I was whisked away in a wheel chair to a quiet room as my shock became a full blown panic attack. I did not want to be a nuisance but with my hormone imbalance, my emotions were in meltdown, they were left with no choice but to call for the emergency services.

An Angel in green, the paramedic Sarah arrived. She did & said all the right things. Calmed & comforted me, checking everything was ok. She really was a sister of mercy. A relative of hers had needed to travel a similar path. There is something so special about caring people, she was so sweet to me. She studied hard to get her degree. Her very nature or perhaps it was just fate bought her to the perfect career. Sarah was the only female member in a team of over thirty emergency response personal. She self depricatingly jokingly described her large bag of emergency medical equipment as just her make up bag. She also told me her boss says “she does everything the men do, the only difference being she does it in lipstick!” What an inspirational lady.

She stopped with me to make sure I required no further treatment. Eventually guiding me with the help of the staff first Aider to the restaurant, for a much appreciated sugary cup of tea. Unable to stay any longer, her time in much demand, my angel in green, from the northern town of Grimsby was gone, but will always be remembered. We had both travelled a long, long way for our paths to meet.

I am going to write a letter to Sarah boss to let him know what an excellent Paramedic he has in his team. It’s all too easy for people to complain & moan. A little thank you costs nothing. I hope the elderly couple got home safely. I forgive the elderly driver, I just hope he does not hurt anyone else, he would never forgive himself I am sure. Would I have been able to forgive him if he had run over my Mum or Dad? No.No.No. I am no Angel. None of us knew our worlds would collide, that our paths would cross today. Afterwards I looked back on the day to discover my life was the richer for the experience.

An hour & a half after arriving I rather shakily finally left the shop having only managed to get my Mums flowers, but more importantly I had escaped a very near miss with my life, my dreams to finally be a complete Ms still in tack. The food shopping can wait another day, now if it had been clothes shopping that would have been serious!

I had only recently thought how lucky I am & that if I died tomorrow I would die happy. That tomorrow nearly came but thankfully my guardian Angel was with me.

My best friend S gave me a gift at the start of my journey, A guardian angel plaque with the following words inscribed:-

My Guardian Angel
She watches over you each day.
With warm & loving care.
This little Angel guides your steps.
She is with you everywhere!

Another dear friend Karen posted an appropriate link to a beautiful song

Lucie Silvas Guardian Angel

Dear Sarah C should you ever read this page, bless you for caring for me, for making my life richer.

((((((((((((Endless hugs & peaceful thoughts)))))))))))))

May your faith be your Guardian Angel
Debbie x
PS I took the photo of the Angel outside the hospital in Brighton where I had just had the most amazing experience with my Mum We had just come through the doors of the hospital (in the background) where I will be having my GRS on Nov 3rd.
Was the Angel real? Our unconditional love certainly was.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

The "Mones"

With the my GRS just over three weeks away I am having quite a lot of soulful thoughts, like the tiger cub in this picture.

I completely stopped using my hormones patches on 22nd September as per the pre op requirements specific to the Nuffield Hospital Brighton for GRs with Mr Thomas. They advised me hormones should stop six weeks before surgery.

I decided to ease my self off the two prescribed eveorel patches by cutting down to one at 7 weeks before surgery, with my last patch applied on 20th stopping completely on 22nd. This was the first time I had been off hormones since Nov 1996 & I have been quite nervous how I would cope. The answer for me is not too bad. Certainly not as bad as I thought & if any one does not believe me, I will cry & throw a hissy fit, so there!

It has not been as scary as I thought it would be. I experienced a strange taste in my mouth within days. After a few days my skin seemed different & I felt more lethargic but no dramatic mood swings, hot flushes or sickness.

After the first week off hormones my "Happy face" momentarily failed me. I was due at the hospital for a voluntary day & having a nice shower when my mones went haywire. In floods of tears, my body feeling like it was reverting to man mode I felt too ugly to face the world. My skin feels so different. I suddenly felt very different, menopausal for goodness sake, I just knew it was going to happen at some point. I had to phone in to let them know I would be a little late. I was not going to let it beat me. I thought of all my sisters out there. How through it all, with all you have going on, you find the spirit & positive energy to keep going. If you are fortunate enough to have a job to go to a working girl does not have the option of throwing a sicky in the middle of a world wide recession.

I crawled into work only an hour late. Children's op was lovely as always I then went on to a new posting in medical personal. It was manic. The girls were snowed under with stressed out doctors/staff with queries about their pay etc. I was up & down running about like the most junior junior of filling assistants & was not involved in the stressy stuff. I was made to feel very much part of their team & my efforts although menial were valued. I was invited to join them for lunch, share a coffee & asked if I could come back again soon. One day I will but possibly not in that department!

I looked up at one point from my filling & in a rather grubby window there was a reflection of a woman in a very busy office, who had a very busy life, was tired, had been emotional, felt like cak but just kept going, She had a great big smile on her face. No one had a clue what she had been through where she had come from or where she was going, she was just one of the girls. That reflection was mine but once again I thought of all of you making your way in the working world.

As an aside it did strike me afterwards that all the most obvious stress & angst occurred in the medical personal office, with the paperwork not where the work was really critical in the caring departments, which perhaps says a lot about the misplaced priorities we can sometimes have in our working lives.

I had my pre-op bloods, swabs & hopefully last Triptorelin monthly injection on 29th September. Brighton advised me that Triptorelin testosterone blocker must be out of my system for at least a week prior to surgery. The last monthly one is to be five weeks before surgery date.

Due to the increased risk of infection at my voluntary work with the hospital I was advised by Brighton, once swabs for MRSA etc have been completed which should be 3-4 weeks before surgery I must stop working there. I have a second swab test this coming week. The first was clear. I was also advised I should not return to the hospital voluntary work for twelve weeks because of the risk of infection.

It was also recommended that my genital hair removal should ideally be completed 3 weeks prior to my surgery. I have had 13 electrolysis & 3 laser IPL sessions with an excellent hair removal specialist. It is not easy to find a practioner experienced & able to do this type of specialist hair removal. To help with my electrolysis I actually had to dye my hair black the night before so they were easier to locate. I have had to take painkillers & apply lots of prescribed emla cream to ease the discomfort of the final stages as my anxiety has increased. It is just another process to go through & better done beforehand than after when it may not even be possible. A humble recommendation to anyone who is considering hair removal with laser IPL is to consider doing it when you are young & your hair has more natural dark pigment.

My mood swings have become a bit more wobbly this week. Dad has been on his best behaviour bless him as my Mum has warned him I when I feel much more emotional. With my surgery so close now it is causing me to focus on that area of my body I had for so long managed to blank out of my mind. I never experienced “willy hate” just great sadness. Now it feels like those memories, those nerve endings are so raw they are already being cut by the surgeon. I feel these emotions are perfectly understandable & healthy. I would not be human if I went into this kind of surgery with no nerves at all. I have dreamed & planned off the day when that part of my body could be corrected. I may have dreamed it but now the reality of that dream is hitting me full on & conjuring up all kinds of emotions. I am experiencing all kinds of life affirming feelings together with a few demons.

With just over three weeks to go I think the time is right for me to stop all my voluntary work which I have really enjoyed doing. My concentration has become worse & my emotions heightened by the day. Nothing too out of the ordinary considering my date with destiny may be very very close, all being well.This is causing me additional anxiety in my personal friendships & I fear all hope for my most special of friendships may now reached its darkest hour after a glimmer of hope. In spite of the tears, there is so much to experience, so much to do. I have never ever felt more alive than I do now. Life is full of surprises. I must stop moaning about my mones. My judgment is slightly clouded by my lack of hormones but I can clearly see I have so much to be truly grateful for.

May your life be kind to you.
((((((((((Peace & hugs)))))))))

PS Please note any medical information needs to be confirmed by qualified medical personal who are assigned to look after your specific medical needs. We are all different & so are the requirements at different hospitals etc I only offer the information here as my particular experience.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Inspirational Courageous Journey of Pam Warren

The Courageous Journey of the Woman In The Mask
Ten years after the Paddington rail disaster

I watched a programme this week about an incredibly courageous woman facing the most frightening of fears. The story of Pam Warren who survived the Paddington Rail disaster despite horrific burns attempting to travel on a train again 10 years after the disaster was the most humbling experience.

I have been off my hormones for nearly 3 weeks now & my mood has been quite emotional to say the least. Thoughts of dear friends facing tremendously difficult situations are close to my heart. Life can be so cruel.

Childhood memories of the area of my body which will soon be operated on have become increasingly very vivid & unsettling. Sometimes it seems so daunting to face our demons. I have stood outside many doors too afraid to step inside. I was praying for inspiration for my friends going through such difficult times & for myself & my modest challenges. The strength of Pam Warren to step on board a train again, to face all she has been through shows how remarkable the human spirit can truly be.

For inspiration on how to face your demons & overcome adversity Pam's story is well worth reading. I have included parts of her experiences below:-

Seizing every opportunity: Pam Warren, ten years after the Paddington rail disaster.

The screech of metal against metal, wheels scraping along the steel track, was what frightened Pam Warren the most. The last time she'd heard that noise was on October 5, 1999, sitting in coach H of the 6.03am Great Western express to London Paddington just before it crashed head-on with the 8.06am Thames Train to Bedwyn, killing 31 people and injuring more than 400.

That sound was the one thing she'd forgotten; strangely missing from the terrifying nightmares and flashbacks which played in her mind like a video on a never-ending loop. But as she stood on the platform of Slough Station in Berkshire, to complete the journey she began at 7.42am ten years ago, the noise of the train pulling in conjured up all those repressed images.

The grinding and violent grating sound as the first-class carriage she was in crumpled before her eyes in the impact; the unnatural sound of men screaming around her; the white heat of a fireball and the sound of her hair crackling as the flames swept over her.

The sight of her leg on fire and the desperate scramble through a broken window all flashed back, as did memories of sitting on the railway bank - blackened and burned - staring in shock at her 'barbecued' fingers.

'My heart was racing and right up to the last second, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to get on the train,' says Pam, 42, whose burned face, encased in a plastic mask, came to symbolise the horror of the Paddington crash.

'The logical side of my brain kept telling me I would be fine, but I didn't know if I'd be able to cope with the emotions which might wash over me.

'I haven't stepped on a train since the day of the crash, ten years ago, but I don't like the thought of fear ruling me or the crash defining me. I do not consider myself a victim and it was that feeling which stopped me running away.

I stared in shock at my barbecued, black fingers!

'To cope, I imagined myself inside a protective bubble, and it was only when another train whooshed past ours in the opposite direction that I jumped 6ft in the air. I also became anxious when we approached Ladbroke Grove where the crash occurred.

'The journey took 13 minutes, and it was a relief when it ended, but I felt elated when I got off the train because it was important for me to complete the journey I started ten years ago. It feels as if my life has come full circle. But will I do it again? I'm not sure, I really don't know if I'm brave enough.'

Pam Warren's remarkable train journey, two-and-a-half weeks ago, featured on ITV's Tonight programme with Trevor McDonald to mark the 10th anniversary of the Paddington rail crash.
Pam Warren agreed to travel the same journey after she spoke to the rail industry's safety chief
Before agreeing to it, she met Len Porter, Chief Executive of RSSB, the industry's safety wing. Thames Trains was fined £2million in 2004 and Network Rail, previously Railtrack, was fined £4million in 2007 for the 'systemic and unacceptable' safety failures leading to the Paddington Crash, and Pam was keen to be reassured by Len Porter that the main recommendations from Lord Cullen's inquiry into the crash, had been implemented.

She also insisted on being accompanied by her psychologist, Anton Kruger, who helped her prepare mentally for the journey and remained in her line of vision throughout.

'Train safety is still not perfect, but it's comforting to know that lessons have been learned,' says Pam, who plans to mark the anniversary on Oct 5th, as she has done every year, by going somewhere quiet and thinking of all those 'who didn't make it'.

'The crash should never have happened and I wish every single one of those who died was still here, but the fact that rail travel is so much safer today is a very positive legacy for them to have left behind.'

Pam Warren suffered horrific burns in the crash in 1999. She travelled alongside her psychologist. This is the first time in five years that Pam, whose courage as 'the woman in the mask' touched the nation, has spoken about the crash.

After founding the Paddington Survivors' Group, she deliberately dropped out of the public eye in 2004, following an acrimonious and painful divorce from her husband, Peter. They'd been friends for 15 years, married for two and were business partners at the time of the accident, but the trauma eventually shattered their relationship. Today, they no longer speak.
My mask felt like a protective barrier against the world.

'Going over my story again and again felt like picking at a scab and I knew I had to disappear if I was going to allow myself time to heal properly,' says Pam, who was forced to give up the financial advisory service she set up with her ex-husband, who became her full-time carer after the crash.

The most striking thing about Pam Warren, today, is how good she looks, given the injuries she suffered. Her hair, burnt to within a whisker of her scalp, has grown back dark and glossy.

She has a delicate bone structure, soft eyes and a warm smile and it's hard to believe this face was once so swollen and disfigured that the sight of it in the mirror reduced her to tears.
'Very few people see me without my face on,' she says, referring to the camouflage make-up she uses to disguise the scars. 'When I look in the mirror now it is with acceptance. This is who I am and I hope this face will last me until I fall off the twig. Looks are not important, it is who you are inside and I am a much softer, kinder, nicer person than I was before the crash.'

Pam spent three weeks unconscious in intensive care. She endured more than 22 major operations on her face and hands and had to wear a transparent plastic mask for 23 hours a day for 18 months while the skin grafts healed.

'I still have the mask. Actually, there are three of them because as the swelling went down, they had to make a new one to make sure it was tight enough to keep the skin moist,' she says.
'I keep them in a memory box in the attic, with all the cards and letters of support I received. I don't ever look at them now, but I can't throw them out because they are an important part of my history.

'There will be more operations in the future, but it is mostly maintenance now. The grafted skin isn't like normal skin,' she says rubbing the surface of her hands, where the legacy of the burns are most evident with puckered skin and fingernails missing.

'It doesn't heal when you cut it. I can only go out in the sun with a big hat and special extra-strong sun cream I buy from Australia.

'Over the years I've had a few twits who, on seeing my scars, have asked: "God, what happened to you?" And I just reply: "I got burned", and walk away.

'Having stared death in the face, I've realised that life is too short to waste time on worrying about what people like that think of the way I look.

'I feel grateful for what the mask did for me. It felt like a protective barrier against the world when I most needed it and all the problems really started when it came off. The brain has a funny way of dealing with what is most important at any particular time and for the first 18 months it concentrated on my getting better physically, but after the mask came off all the emotions came to the fore.'

Pam suffered terrifying nightmares and flashbacks and found it impossible to adjust to her new life, her old one having been completely ripped apart. Perhaps, inevitably, the first casualty was her relationship with Peter, now 60, who'd lovingly devoted himself to her recovery.

I hit the bottle to make the flashbacks stop.

'I defy any marriage to survive what we went through, although I feel a large part of the blame for the collapse of ours lies with me, because of the mental challenge I was facing,' says Pam.
'I was not a nice person to be with. I couldn't cope with what I was going through as well as the responsibility of knowing that my well-being was affecting that of another person.

'There was a real sense from the beginning that this was something I had to go through alone, the feeling of "how could anyone else understand what I'm going through if they weren't there".

'To cope, I hit the bottle for about a year. At first, I found that a glass or two of wine in the evening helped me feel a bit better. Then a glass or two became a whole bottle, or maybe two. You think it is going to numb you, help you sleep, make you so zonked out you don't have flashbacks and nightmares. Then the next day I'd feel hungover and not want to do anything.
'It made me a horrible person to live with and it is the one period of my life of which I'm ashamed. I became a selfish, uncaring idiot.'

It was during this time, when negotiations with Thames Trains' insurers over Pam's compensation were also dragging, that she tried to commit suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. When she told Peter what she'd done, he rushed her to hospital. 'It was after one particularly terrifying flashback - I just wanted to try and make them stop,' she says. ' Afterwards I was admitted to a private psychiatric clinic for three months and for the first time I felt relief.' Pam was subsequently diagnosed with chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

'I was finally being prescribed the right medication and I wasn't allowed to see any family or friends for three months - it was actually a relief, not having to worry about them or about the cooking or anything else. It was a nice rest.'

Pam's nadir came at a press conference in 2003 when she broke down in tears and wept: 'I wish I'd died in the crash.' She spoke movingly of losing the will to live as insurers insisted on what seemed like endless assessments of her physical injuries and emotional trauma.

Her real recovery finally started, however, after she stopped drinking and walked away from her marriage. Her sobriety came after a conversation with former Welsh Guardsman Simon Weston, who was badly burned during the Falklands War. Simon is lead ambassador of the Healing Foundation, a charity which helps rebuild the bodies, minds and lives of people with disfigurements. Pam now also works for the charity as an ambassador.

'Simon was one of the few people to understand what I was going through. He told me he used to drink to blot out the memories and asked me if that was what I was doing, too,' says Pam.
'He told me that no matter how bad it seemed now, it didn't mean I could not find another way to cope. He made me realise that it didn't have to be like this for ever. Then, when my close friend Jan, another Paddington survivor, told me: "I don't like you when you are like this," I went home and poured every single bottle of alcohol down the drain and just stopped. I didn't touch any drink for the next year.'

Pam is reluctant to discuss the end of her marriage in 2004, because she believes some things should remain private, but says: 'I regret the way I behaved, but I don't regret the end of the marriage. Once I was on my own I immediately began to feel happier.'

Pam credits her mental recovery on cognitive behavioural therapy, but one suspects that true grit has also played a part.

'What I like about my current psychologist Anton Kruger is that the first thing he said to me was: "Right, what do you want to do with your future?" and I loved that, it suits my personality,' says Pam.

'I don't like feeling trapped in the past. I hated not working and spending every day watching old black-and-white films at home and then having absolutely nothing to talk to my friends about. I wanted to be normal again; part of society.'
In 2003, Pam was awarded compensation, reported to be more than £1 million. She is prevented by the terms of the settlement from revealing exactly how much, but says: 'It is not as substantial as people think and working again was always going to be a necessity.'
In May 2007, Pam set up her own business and now works as an events manager, organising balls and corporate functions. Her favourite was a James Bond-themed event for an engineering firm. 'It's wonderful,' she says, 'doing a job which is so joyful and is all about making people happy.'
She also takes great pride in her voluntary work, mentoring other people who have suffered burns injuries to their faces.
'Often they don't want to wear the plastic mask, asking: "Will it do any good anyway?" but as soon as they see my face that question is immediately answered.
'I like to meet the whole family of such victims to warn them that, even though this person might feel positive now, there will be periods of depression in the future and not to be frightened of it,' says Pam, who is careful to take off long periods of time between jobs because of her continuing health problems.

'It's when I become exhausted that the depression sets in and I start having flashbacks and nightmares again. I've learned now to just give into to it, rather than fight it, knowing that in two or three days it will pass.'

Pam's evident happiness can also be partly explained by the new man in her life, an IT consultant, whom she met at a New Year's Eve party almost two years ago. 'He didn't know who I was when he asked me out, he just liked me for me,' she says, smiling broadly. 'I sat him down and said: "There are some things you need to know about me." I explained that I still sometimes suffer depression and need time and space to be on my own. I told him: "I'm a high-maintenance woman, so if you want to back off now you can." But he didn't.'
So are there times when Pam still wishes she hadn't survived the crash? 'Oh my goodness no, I love my life. I understand why I felt that way back then, because when you are constantly suffering flashbacks all you want to do is go to sleep and never wake up.
'But that's not who I am now. Having almost died, I want to pack as much into my life as I can. I want to travel to places I've never been, spend time with the people I love, and work because it's important to my sense of well-being.
'The one thing the Paddington Crash taught me is that you never know when your life is going to end, so you have to make the most of every single day.'
A lesson to us all from a very brave lady.
((((((((Peace & Hugs)))))))

Sunday, 4 October 2009

A weekend of Revelations

My parents & I never really had the chat about the birds & the bee’s or S E X. There just never seemed a need I guess. Mum & I have led very sheltered lives. We blush quite easily & although not completely innocent/naive we are far from worldly wise.

Sunday 5th October has been something of day of revelations. We have both dealt with some rather uncomfortable questions. The kind of questions not that many Mothers & daughters would normally need to have certainly not at a combined age of one hundred & thirty. I tried to be as open & honest as I could be without worrying her with too much information regarding my impending gender realignment surgery.

I explained to her that my need for surgery was to alleviate the discomfort I feel with my body, my gender & was nothing to do with my sexuality. Having a sexual relationship had just not been something that has been part of my life & perhaps never will. We talked about the dilators & how often I would be using them. How long the packing would be in place, all kinds of questions. She was very understanding. She has experienced far greater pain than I probably will from my GRS, during the joys of child birth & other operations of a womanly nature. We had never shared such intimate things before & this was to be another poignant emotional high on this journey.

Mum told me there was a history of the females in her family not being able to have children. According to my Mums doctors I was likely to be her last chance of a child as she was at high risk of a miscarriage. Her muscles were particularly week. When she finally became pregnant she was told to have as much bed rest as possible & had to give up her office job immediately.

When the doctors were sure she was pregnant because of her medical situation they gave her a special injection to improve her chances of avoiding a miscarriage. She remembers this very vividly. I may never know the significance of the effect this chemical wash had on me the embryo at this stage in my life I was born in the 1960s. We were perhaps one of the lucky ones as this was the period of time of the thalidomide fertility drug treatments. One of the young Mums who she shared the same maternity ward had a baby born with the effects of the thalidomide drug. They became life long friends.

My Mum was only 8 ½ stone when she gave birth early to me an underweight 7 ½ lbs. For several months I remained in hospital. I was born deformed in the genital region of my body. At 12 months I was very weak & could not sit up right.

All my childhood I suffered with kidney/urinary infections, stones etc & was constantly in & out of hospital. I suffered a great deal of pain in that region of my cursed body. I dreaded all the examinations. The only way I could deal with those feelings were to try to blank them out as best I could. Those memories are now once more open wounds with the nerve endings so exposed for all of us.

The bombshell my Mum dropped on me today was the explicit detail she went into about the state of the deformity I had been born with. Things were not where they should be for a normal male baby. At the age of five I was to have had an operation to correct it. I was prepared for surgery & at the last minute the surgeons decided it was unfair to put a young child through a series of such complicated risky surgery. They had hoped given time as an adult I would function normally.

I was not alone in blanking out the pain that part of my body had caused. When I told my parents in 1996 I needed to transition because of my gender dyshoria unknowingly that birth deformity had come back to haunt us all. All my parents understood of people like me was from the tabloids & TV of the time. They were appalled at the name that had been given to people like me “Transsexual”. To my Mum the reference to sex implied something salacious. They both went into denial & would not listen to me or my counsellor. They were from a different age & this was understandably just too much for them to be able to deal with. To go through all she has been through & then to have her dream of a child turn into a nightmare; I have great sympathy for her anguish when I shattered their lives by disclosing they had actually had a daughter.

Unfortunately my Mum eventually sought the advice of her own doctor Dr B. who had a very limited knowledge of my condition. She was nearing retirement age & about to become a missionary. She callously told my Mum that people born with my condition usually have to leave their home town & start a new life. They risk victimisation if they stay. When my Mum asked her for the medical records of her pregnancy, my birth & early childhood so they could begin to make sense of it all those records covering that part of our lives, so she claimed had gone missing. My poor Mum confessed she still blames her self which is so untrue. How heartbreaking to long for a child & have some one like me who’s condition has caused so much trauma to their lives.

I am not sure if this heartless doctors; ill informed remarks robbed us of spending a more fulfilled & happy life together but it certainly contributed to the heart ache we have had to go through to get where we are now.

It may have just been nature. It may have been the well intentioned medical intervention but something must have happened to me in the womb that caused me to be born this way. It would appear that at this moment in time there is no medical test that can be done until you are deceased. I do not need validation but today’s revelations have come as a bit of a shock.

What happened to me to cause me to be born this way I may never know?

I am not sure if it matters. I have never blamed anyone for my condition. God made me like this for a reason. I would not be here as the person I am today, were it not for my beloved Mum & Dad or those doctors had not intervened. All that matters is that we enjoy what future time we have together.

Having this surgery is very important to me but it is also just another procedure to go through. It saddens me when some souls on this journey claim their way is the only way or their T/dyshoria is bigger or more significant than another sister or brother. We are not defined by our condition, where we have come from does not dictate where we are going. I just wish we could all be friends where ever we are on the spectrum what ever path we feel we need to take.

With 4 weeks to go I am at complete peace with regard to my surgery. I wish everyone who feels they need this surgery could be able to have it. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to have the surgeon of my choice in the hospital of my choice with excellent facilities & very caring staff. I am naturally anxious & just wish it was all over. I am not sure if anything could prepare me for how I may feel afterwards. To have that deformity corrected to be comfortable in my body would be beyound any words of happiness my limited vocabularly could convey. God willing, I think the very large smile on my face will probably say it all. As long as the surgery actually happens in 4 weeks time & my parents are ok I will be ok.

I could not be going to be a better place for my particular needs or coming home to a nicer home. If I am honest I am more frightened of all the examinations than the actual surgery & the time when I am in the hospital. I am more nervous of how I may feel when I am home & those nerve endings start to heal & try to adjust to my new anatomy. I am not sure how I will cope with the pain both physically & mentally from maintaining & caring for my new anatomy. I have complete faith I will find the strength to pull through.

I have angels for friends who have guided me this far. Two actually visited my home & blessed me with their presence on Friday. To meet dear Jo & Nicky was both a joy & a privilege. I really value our friendship. With true friends like these, we need never feel alone. How I wish we could all meet up one day here on earth to give each other a big hug in person. Miracles can happen!

(((((((((((((((((((((Peace & hugs)))))))))))))))))

Monday, 28 September 2009

Beautiful Day

Incredibly my Dad appears to have turned his depression around. I wanted to show him the person he loved was very much still around. It was a bit of a risk for so many reasons but as part of a birthday gift I took him to see the football with his daughter. Something we always used to do together. All week he had been so excited. When the vile Sun published articles about trans children on their front page I thought it might derail his progress but thankfully we worked through that as well. The day was perfect.

In the morning I had the sweetest of phone calls from my best friend inviting me to see her the following day. Dad & I had a great day together. For a dear Dad who in turmoil & denial at one point vowed he would never walk with me again if I transitioned, who ended up in hospital with all the worry it caused him, only two years later to be at a stadium with 19000 people in with his daughter by his side totally relaxed, a day neither of us ever believed could happen, makes me cry just thinking about it.

From the rather surreal experience of ordering the tickets at the stadium a few days earlier on the spur of the moment. Asking for seats in the quietest part of a football stadium. To be treated so differently to how I had ever been before by the staff in my other life. I mean that in the nicest of ways as throughout they treated me as ME a daughter devotedly taking her elderly Dad to a match. They helped Dad up the steps to his seat. They even took photo's for us using my camera as memento's of the day. In keeping with the script our team behaved perfectly by not getting my Dad over excited as he likes to kick every ball even at his tender years. They actually won for the first time in ages. Our team have been so bad for so long they have ended up back in the same low division they played in when my Dad was a young boy.

This was a big big day for my Dad. He had survived the second world war but this day was potentially full of a lot of emotional shrapnel. It has been so difficult for him as the parent of gender dysphoric child. We were unheard of in those days. My parents had no reference to guide them. I was useless at sport & try as he did he was perplexed as to why his young child showed so little interest, as he himself was brought up on sport. He had almost given up hope when he finally coaxed me along to his great passion. We bonded as he had always wished for. I loved every moment with him.

My childhood memories from the seventies of my distant past flood back to me. I wanted to please my Dad & live up to his expectations but where was my place in this apparently male dominated world. As an only child I had led a fairly sheltered life, preferring my own company, living in my safe imaginary world. I felt so alien in the landscape he wanted to take me to. Like a monochrome chameleon I had to quickly learn to adapt to blend to survive.

Of my early visits to the football, these random thoughts echo my feelings. The horrible smell of tobacco, the pear drop sweets, the machismo I felt no part of yet it felt ok with my Dad. The strange tribalism of the large crowds. A crowd I felt so isolated in, aside from being so close to my Dad. Sweet Caroline playing on the loudspeakers. The long haired androgynous hippie fashions of the youths of that bygone time. The frightening potential for hooliganism to ignite at any time. My confused & distressed feelings at the sometimes sexist, racist & homophobic reaction of the crowds. Political Correctness had not existed in those dark days. I recall seeing George Best play & his girlfriend a model called Angie walking the touchline. She was probably the original WAG & was subject to all kinds of chauvinistic catcalls which really upset me. She seemed so confident, so content in her own skin. I felt I must be the only person with a male body in the stadium who wanted to be like her & not the gorgeous wayward genius Georgie Best. I felt safe by my Dads side.

Sorry I digress from our perfect day. We savoured every moment of our time together sharing what we both knew was likely to be our last ever chance to share such an experience. When the final whistle blew we took an age to leave. As we walked through the crowds outside my Dad stumbled & as I struggled to hold him upright a kind football fan appeared from no where to steady him. This mans compassionate act could not have been further from the preconceived fears we both once may have had about how we may be treated by certain parts of society. If we could have danced back to our car together we would have done, we were both so happy.

When I got to see my friend the following day we got on really well together. Ironically her Dad had always wished for a son & she was bought up supporting one of London's football teams with a fearsome reputation in the seventies. In those days female fans were something of a rarity. Thankfully times have hopefully changed. Its early days but there is hope in my heart that we can rebuild our friendship.

When a Dad & his daughter can share such treasured moments. When on evenings my Mum & I can walk arm in arm, our faces free of make up, our minds free of insecurities & simply be perceived to all the world but most importantly ourselves as Mother, Father & Daughter, its a beautiful day!

My dear Dad will be 85 years young this week. He is the most wonderful Dad, a true Saint, my hero!


Saturday, 19 September 2009

Don't let "The Sun" go down on these children

The hate mongering vile British tabloid newspaper "the Sun" continues to put profit before lives. How many more lives will be ruined; how many lives will be lost as a result of such vile journalism as the one they smeared across their front page today. Stories they had featured on two successive days in a national paper like a glorified modern day witch hunt of the most vulnerable in society, children!

There is a UK support group for gender variant children & teenagers called Mermaids for any who may have been effected by the issues raised.
Further information is available at the bottom of this page.

I am loathed to give the Suns article any publicity or insult the intelligence of the kind folk who visit this blog but for those who wish to

The Sun editorial comment today quoted the following :-

"A crass act
NO child can know his or her sexuality at nine.
So it is alarming that a school has allowed a boy of nine to start term as a girl, with the headmistress's approval.
The situation calls for sensitivity.
But it also demands more intelligent handling than we have seen. "

The editor of the Sun appears to have been blind to the levels of crass insensitive unintelligent hate filled bigotry directed towards one of the remaining minority groups they seem to believe are open to abuse without legal protection. They seek to deliberately sensationalise to sell copy by deliberately misleading people by mentioning sexuality which is nothing to do with the gender issues these vulnerable children are experiencing. Gender & sexuality are not the same issue but sex sells tabloid papers.

Lets hope as was suggested on a recent support forum that the children & their families involved, can take this tabloid newspaper to the European court for breach of Article 8* of the European Convention on Human Rights.

* Article 8 .1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

I am ashamed to say my parents have had this paper delivered to their house since my adolescence & still do today. Sadly even now they believe some of the filth they continue to publish including parts of this article. If only these were the beliefs of a bygone age! An alarming indictment of the society we live in is that so do many others; because if people stopped buying it & they could not sell copies, they would not write such hate filled filth.

I am also ashamed because although I felt so angry about this article I am not able to find the courage to stand up for our rights & there in perhaps lies the uncomfortable truth of my angst. I also had a very distressing discussion with my parents raised by the ignorance in this article & even now a life time on, I lack the confidence or eloquence to convey just how upset frustrated, angry & frightened for these children I feel. This kind of malicious journalism further generates ignorance & destroys whole families lives.

In the end, humanity conserves only what it loves.

We only love what we understand.

We understand only what we are taught.

Thanks to journalism like that in the Sun newspaper, gender dysphoric children who are so vulnerable & are often critically endangered, may one day very soon become extinct.

I am still haunted by my parents comments regarding similar articles about transgendered people, at the breakfast table when I was a child getting ready for school. The fear of bullying, the trauma they contributed to my life is something I will never ever forget or forgive. In those days the articles did not appear to directly target vulnerable children in what appears to be a modern day witch hunt as the Suns articles have done today but they still had an impact on gender variant children. These children in the Sun article are so brave & must have been through so much to do what they need to go through so early in life. I am one of the lucky gender dysphoric youth of yesteryear. I still very much have a life to live for.

The saying "Sticks & stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me" could not be further from the truth. Words can hurt & ignorance is no excuse.

How many gender dysphoric children's lives have been ruined or have taken their own lives without any one knowing the reason why, since the Sun went down & down? How many more innocent children will have to die at the hands of hate filled bullies before journalists stop publishing such insensitive ill informed stories?

Please dont let the Sun go down on these children

Further videos are available from

In support of this one aim, they also intend to:

Offer support to parents, families, carers, and others
Raise awareness about gender issues amongst professionals (e.g. teachers, doctors, social services, etc.,) and the general public
Campaign for the recognition of this issue and the increase in professional services.
Helpline: 07020 935066 (12 noon - 9pm UK time, when staffed)

This was a song from my past & I thank God I have a future

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Please say a prayer

Please say a prayer

I truly have friends for Angels. Right now some of those angels really need our love. There are days when I feel my anxiety for my family & friends, engulfing me. This is one of them. At these times I turn to my faith.

Most sacred heart of Jesus I place all my trust in thee.

So often they have been my Guardian Angels here on earth. So often they have reached out & touched my heart.

My beloved Dads health is causing concern for Mum & I. He is at times becoming very withdrawn& his thinking quite muddled. The poor love has confided in Mum he is not coping at all well with the thought of my surgery in November. This is all so hard for him. It is so cruel that sometimes we hurt the ones we love so much in this world. We all have our own worries.

There are several friends who kindly visit this blog who are going through really challenging times. Sometimes our blogs go quiet because we are just so busy living our lives. Sometimes its what we do not say that speaks volumes. Sometimes there is nothing wrong at all. A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future and accepts you today the way you are. Bless you all.

A Guardian Angel Prayer for Friends:-

Guardian Angel,
watch over those whose names you can read in my heart.
Guard over them with every care
and make their way easy and their labours fruitful.
Dry their tears if they weep;
sanctify their joys;
raise their courage if they weaken;
restore their hope if they lose heart,
their health if they be ill,
truth if they err,
repentance if they fail.


Friday, 11 September 2009

A room with a view

On Sunday I took my dear Mum to visit to the Nuffield hospital Brighton where I hope to be having my gender realignment surgery in November. I had arranged the visit with Liz Hills the lead clinical nurse to try to help allay my Mums worries & ease her anxiety about the care I would be receiving.

Sometimes with a bit of imagination there seems some parallels between the EM Forster novel “Room with a view” & my life. Lucy the lead character lived in Victorian times & seemed destined to follow a path of what was expected of her, hiding her emotions, something I am thankfully now almost completely incapable of doing. I certainly never dared dream, I would one day be in “the room with a view” I shared with my Mum last Sunday.

This visit was going to be an immensely difficult day for my Mum. My heart is still laden with the guilt of needing to take my beloved elderly parents through a period of huge change at their time in life. I am very conscious of just how blessed I am to still have my beloved parents with me.

It was an incredibly emotional day. Mums courage, her unconditional love knows no bounds. Liz was so kind, so understanding, simply 110% perfect. Mum was very impressed by the whole experience. The hospital, the staff & its location all met with her approval. They were all way beyond what she had ever expected.

I started the day with an early morning walk with my Dad. Each walk we share is absolutely priceless. This memorable morning we were greeted by the poignant sight of the young signets flexing their wings nearly ready for their maiden flight.

I worry so much about my beloved parents & how they will cope in the coming months. It would be perfectly understandable if they are still mourning what feels like the death of their son. To them my GRS date may fseem like their son’s funeral. It is not how I feel & after this visit I truly belive they can see my GRs as something more positive. It seems much harder for my Dad, bless him. He has had to come much further than Mum or I in a comparatively short space of time. From being in denial only two years ago, he has shown tremendous courage & kindness in accepting my need to transition. He is now incredibly protective of his daughter but coming along on this visit was just too much for him to cope with. Dad agreed to stay at home to look after our dog while Mum & I went off on our journey.

We played the songs from “Mama Mia” by Abba all the way there, stopping off in Arundel on route. I knew Liz was such an Angel & having spoken to her several times since my first visit in September last year, I had great faith in her. I did wonder perhaps if I may have been on an emotional hi during my first visit & got a bit carried away about just how good the hospital & its staff were. Seeing it for the second time & seeing my dear Mums face light up with a big smile of approval was one of the most happy & emotional days of my life.

I have so much to write about the experience, so much to remember. There are a few unexpected changes for me to come to terms with. I am going to have to curtail my hospital voluntary work a lot earlier than I had originally planned because of the risk of MRSA, cdif etc & will have to stop once I have had a swab test 4 weeks before surgery. Afterwards I have been advised that I should not risk going back for 12 weeks. I will also be staying in the hospital for seven days after my GRS, which is slightly longer than I appreciated. Mum & I struggle being apart for so long but thanks to this visit Mum is as impressed by the Nuffield as I was the first time & her anxiety may not be as bad as we feared. Her positive reaction to this visit lifted both our spirits & suddenly there was no limit to just how far our hearts could see.

I was also told by Liz there would be no need for me to travel to Brighton for a pre op appointment after all. She will be able to ask lots of questions over the phone which together with the results from the blood tests she has asked my GP to provide will give them all the information they require.

Unexpectedly we were invited to visit a patient from Edinburgh. We were introduced to a young lady of 26 who had her surgery 3 days previous. She looked amazing & had such a happy radiant smile. Her Dad was proudly by her side. They too had initially been afraid how their daughter would cope & had not wanted her to transition. She had felt very little pain & only experienced slight discomfort. Her only concern had been feeling rather sick due to all the medication still in her body from the anesthetic It was so sweet of them to allow us to visit them. There were so many intense emotions like this during the visit.

Afterwards we sat in the car talking & Mum revealed a secret to me that was to melt my heart completely. For years my dear Mum has struggled to deal with the loss of her family particularly her sister & Mum. She had never found closure in over thirty years. Each tragic anniversary her mood would dip dramatically, it was so difficult for all of us. In recent years she had hidden her grief from me.

Sundays visit had been a random date that was convenient for Liz & for me. Unbeknown to me until my Mum told me after our visit, September 6th was the anniversary of her dear Mums passing. She had courageously not said a word about it because she knew I would never ask her to go through such an emotional visit to Brighton on such a day had I remembered the significance of the date.

She told me it had felt right to go with her daughter on such a day. She told me that a date that had always until Sunday been a sad day on her calendar will now be remembered for a happy occasion. The courage, grace, dignity & unconditional love, as well as the total acceptance she had a daughter she knew needed this surgery, will be embellished in my mind for eternity.

We were still sat in the empty car park talking as the lovely Liz drove by cheerily waving at us as she finally went home exhausted & late to see her family. Liz had been at a TG conference in Norwich with the surgeon Mr Thomas for several days & only driven back on Saturday. Then on Sunday she came into the hospital to catch up with her work & freely gave up her afternoon for as long as we needed, never once making it seem like we were wasting her valuable time. It was such a heartwarming privilege to see these two wonderful Mums bond together as only Mums can. My beloved Mum got so much out of this special visit but she also gave something beyond her daughters most optimistic of dreams.

After I had hugged & kissed my dear Mum for all she had done for me, all the love we shared, we finally set off for home. Mama Mia was playing softly. The first track that played was by chance, supposedly random just like the date of our visit but in keeping with the spiritual aspects of the day it proved to be so memorable:-

"I have a dream"!
I have a dream, a song to sing
To help me cope with anything
If you see the wonder of a fairy tale
You can take the future even if you fail
I believe in angels
Something good in everything I see
I believe in angels
When I know the time is right for me
I cross the stream - I have a dream

I have a dream, a fantasy
To help me through reality
And my destination makes it worth the while
Pushing through the darkness still another mile
I believe in angels
Something good in everything I see
I believe in angels
When I know the time is right for me
I cross the stream - I have a dream
I cross the stream - I have a dream

I have a dream, a song to sing
To help me cope with anything
If you see the wonder of a fairy tale
You can take the future even if you fail
I believe in angels
Something good in everything I see
I believe in angels
When I know the time is right for me
I cross the stream - I have a dream
I cross the stream - I have a dream

Last Sunday the tears just rolled down my cheeks at the joy & emotions of the most magical day of my life. I certainly believe in Angels!

The picture above is of of my Mum in one of the rooms I am likely to be staying in at the hospital, looking at the view, contemplating the future of her only child. We are so fortunate to still be together & have a future to share, each day of which I cherish. There are so many less fortunate.

My thoughts turn to those who have lost their loved ones on this the eighth anniversary of the attacks by hijacked planes on America this day. My thoughts & prayers are with the nearly three thousand innocent victims that day & their bereaved families. How did those victims feel looking out of their office windows in the twin towers that day. You can read a very moving account of that day by dear Michelle She was one of the survivors. The scars of all those whose lives were effected by this tragic day may never ever heal. How do all those families who have lost their loved ones that day & those who have continued to lose their precious loved ones in combat as a result, cope with knowing they will never see them come home again? Some of those who witnessed this tragic day unfold on television as children are now risking their lives at war. God bless them all.