Saturday, 14 February 2009

The smell of burning martyr


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The smell of
burning martyr! ....................................................................................My opportunity for a new working life
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This is a positive post, honest! As one door for now remains closed, another one has opened. I am returning to the work place after 4 years, in a completely new role, with a completely new life.
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I owe my family & my friends a big apology. Everything I have thought, seen, written & tasted recently has been tainted by the stench of burning martyr. No one likes self pity. No one likes a moaner. Unfortunately being born with a dysphoric voice perhaps gives me an unwanted advantage & a very good chance of an Olympic Gold for whinging, if one ever existed!
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My parents, my doctors & I had been delighted with my progress last year. I had set myself a goal of doing some voluntary work & try to target a position of paid employment this year. I had attended my first mock job interview late last year & decided I would really like to try & find some voluntary work at my local hospital. A completely new challenge, for a completely new life.
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Realising I am something of an emotional sponge & can at times let my compassion get the better of me, a job directly involved in the front line of the caring professions is something I need to be cautious about at this stage in my recovery. Long before my referral refusal I had applied for an administration position & finally been invited for an interview at the end of last month. It was a wonderful positive experience & went really well. It felt like a great step forward for me.
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I was just myself, my T stuff was of no relevance & inconsequential at the interview just as it should be. It was never mentioned. To just be my true self felt so incredibly empowering & so good. My nerves soon went & I was able to present myself to the best of my abilities. The interview went really well. It presented the ideal opportunity for some one like me who was trying to get back to the workplace to rebuild their confidence, gain new skills & help others. They had lots of different jobs available. It seemed a situation which could be mutually advantageous.
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I had to go through some security checks to gain clearance & also had to attend an interview with occupational health. This part of the enrolment process was much more complicated. How much of my history should I disclose? Mental illness carries a great stigma with some employers but even though this was a hospital they have to be so careful their staff are suitable. When I had lost my job through ill health I had chosen foolishly not to let the occupational health people know about the underlying reason behind my ill health. As I did not wish to let anyone down especially when dealing with those who themselves are vulnerable & in need of the correct care & respect I decided to be honest. My health had been improving & remained stable through out last year. Being honest I felt I had to explain my recent health issues which were relevant, my panic attacks & sleepless nights as a result of my referral refusal for my GRS. At this point the doctor excused himself to consult a colleague. For 15 minutes he disappeared & so I feared had a really good opportunity to improve my well being & perhaps be able to give just a little back to an organisation I have so much respect & gratitude for. Thankfully he & his colleagues decided my reaction was understandable & agreed I could be taken on. I was asked my full inoculation history & given some blood tests as I may come into direct contact with patients should I be asked to carry out surveys & other minor duties.

Last Thursday I was asked to attend a volunteer induction day at the Hospital. I should have been raring to go & thrilled to have the opportunity but with my health as it has been recently times had changed. I had finally agreed with my consultant to send off my appeal on Wednesday which for reasons I had to trust him with, failed to contain my fundamental reason for my distress. Now this is where the acrid smell of burning martyr may begin to smoke. For a transsexual to have completed all that was asked of her by her doctors & honestly genuinely believed to be only a few months away from her surgery, to alleviate a life long deformity, to suddenly be told that surgery will not now happen for years as opposed to months, causes an escalation of their gender dysphoria that possibly only another person suffering the same condition could possibly fully comprehend. I say this with sincere apologies & gratitude to those kind compassionate friends who are non trans here. It is only surgery, it is not the news, the terrible news that that some people receive that their condition is terminal. I need to get over it & regain my perspective but for me my dysphoria had once more become almost unlivable. It dominates my every thoughts, I feel sickened by my body, I felt like a freak. At the same time I knew how lucky I was & what a wonderful opportunity to return to the workplace this would be.
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The secretary of my consultant has become like a friend to me. I had recently become a very needy nuisance of a patient & possibly tainted our friendship with burning martyr, too. I had thanked her profusely & bought her a small box of chocolates as a gift for putting up with me while my dysphoria & depression had raged so badly. She replied with great sincerity, “Thank you for the chocolates that was very kind of you. I know it is not quite the way you thought things were going to go, but please look on the positive side, there are many more people out there worse of than you. You have your health and parents who care for you a lot, and the team here are here to support you. Take care”. Wise words with which I totally agree accept that (here comes that awful burning martyr smell again) I do not have my health as it was. Not at all. I may look the same. I certainly know how lucky I am but my body has never felt more in conflict with my brain, my soul. So on Thursday morning this week I faced a huge dilemma, a cross roads.
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As my friend Alan had kindly suggested, Somehow I had to get through all of this, whether it's despite them (the commissioning panel who shattered my dreams) or to spite them! I was emotionally right on the edge. One kind word, one thought & I could have burst into tears. It was so early I could not take our doggy out for his walk, for the first time since my parents so kindly let me have him. His soulful eyes followed my every move. I had to stay strong. Dam it, I was going to grit my teeth & do this. Scraping the ice off my car windows just like the rest of the poor commuters travelling to work I rejoined the rat race.
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As I drove to work for the first time in four years I flitted between freakiness’, Marta Dom & pride & determination. As I approached the hospital entrance that overriding magical feeling that comes from being true to my heart washed over me. I joined a quite diverse group of some sixty new volunteer colleagues in the lecture theatre. We were from all different backgrounds, ages, genders, races, and religions. We were all there representing a random cross section of humanity all there to help others, freely giving of our time & in the process perhaps improve our own well being as well. It was a great thrill & privilege to be given a chance to work alongside such hard working dedicated staff, as a volunteer. I have to be 110% sure I can concentrate fully on the care & needs of the patients before I can consider trying to take on any significant role in their wellfare. Until then it will have to be be admin work & may be patient surveys. What ever duty I do I will always try to do it a with a smile & kindness. A smile costs nothing but can mean so much. One day, who knows, my dream to work in the caring profession may one day become true.
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We were made to feel welcome & valued. We had lectures on health & safety, data protection, infection control, chaplaincy & other’s perspective. The last two subjects were enthralling. To help us focus on what really matters most in a hospital, the patients care & respect, we watched a DVD about others perspective. The actress Virginia McKenna played the role of a patient, an elderly Grandma who was suffering from dementia. She was being treated very disrespectfully by actresses demonstrating how not to treat a patient. She was treated like a non person with no dignity or respect. Yet here was a fellow equal, a human being, a young woman, trapped in a frail old body with a mind/memory that was failing her. There was hardly a dry eye in the house. The Reverend who gave the chaplaincy talk struck a raw nerve when he remarked no one likes the smell of burning martyr. He did so in a totally honest humorous self effacing way but boy/girl was he speaking the truth.
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My Mum, Dad & I were so proud & relieved after the recent worry I had caused them. I had faced another challenge. I do not want to let anyone down. I have come so far from the shy person with such low self esteem I used to be in my other life. I want to be able to do my best & just get on with my life.
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Next Wednesday I start work in the hospitals out patients department, a new beginning, a new & humble life, hopefully one day soon to be free from the blur of dysphoria & self pity.
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I hope you all have a very Happy Valentines day
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(((((((((((positive thoughts)))))))))))
Peace & love
Debbie

8 comments:

alan said...

I can think of no one I would rather have on my side in a hospital...

Happy Valentine's Day, Debbie!

alan

Debbie K said...

Happy Valentine's day, dear Alan!

Jess said...

Great news, Debbie, and I hope the job goes well and is fulfilling. I recognise that hospital front from any meetings, and a few visits as a relative. Good luck, in all things.

JH

Loris Lane said...

Hi Debbie,
I was pleased to read the tone of your latest blog as well as see the words themselves.

This is excellent news and I for one am very happy for you. Great spirit.

Anji said...

I wish I could give you a big hug. Well done! Alan's words are very true.

LucyTolliday said...

I wish you all the best, like others above I can't think of better person nearby if I'm in a hospital.
Hope someday everything else comes good.
*hugs*

Chloe said...

Hey girl, sorry to leave this comment here, but I could not find your email on your Google Profile. I am moving my Blog "Pink Thoughts" to Private, Invitation only. I would like you to remain a follower, but I need to send you an invite via your email. Can you email me directly at: chloeprince@sbcglobal.net and let me know if you'd like to remain? Thanks dear.

Loris Lane said...

Hiya Debbie,
Chloe beat me to it. I'v e moved to private as well - I too would like you remain a follower if you wish; in which case pm me on Angels with your email address.
Loris L xx
ps - hope work has been ok for you