Thursday, 26 March 2009
I watch the brave sometimes bewildered children at the hospital where I do voluntary work & am humbled by their courage. They face a journey into the unknown. My heart goes out to each & every one of them.
I was born slightly deformed & my parents were advised I may need major corrective surgery that would have been very invasive at the time. They decided it was best to let nature take its course. No one has the right to make such decisions with a young child's life & I applaud both my parents & the doctors decision. They did the right thing even though my journey has been far from easy I am truly blessed & grateful. My Mum was told I was her last chance of a child & but for the intervention of her doctors & various injections as part of her treatment I probably would never have existed. Perhaps something they did caused me to be born this way but at least they gave my Mum the chance to have a child & me a life. I will never know & certainly blame no one. There would be no point. This was the 1960's & medical science has advanced a long way since but it is also true to say a little knowledge in the wrong hands can be a dangerous thing.
I was not born inter sexed but things were not right there. Parts of that area were not aligned in the right places. I was in & out of the children's hospital with all kinds of infections often in my kidneys until the age of twelve. The medical investigations were often of a very personal nature & very distressing. My dear Mum was always there to hold my hand. Passing stones was so not fun & neither was the persistent cystitis. The nursing staff were so kind to me but those memories still haunt me. Childhood memories of the pain & discomfort I felt with this part of my body are flashing through me head. Puberty was even worse psychologically. I felt so ashamed. I could never ever allow anyone to see that part of my body. Today I face another nemesis.
The dam thing should not be there. I had never hated it its existence before I just felt tremendously sad. The dam thing still exists, its very much alive, how I wish it were dead & gone & this was all over. Transition comes at a price. There are great highs & the darkest of lows. More demons stand in my path today. I hope & pray I pass the test.
My inner child is still very much part of me. If you read this please spare a thought & please if you can, say a prayer for all those children who are going off to hospital to face treatment that really frightens them or even worse those who have parents/doctors who misguidedly for whatever reason decide to play God.
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
I never expected the wonderful news I received today. My journey has become very spiritual to me. Mum & I have shared so many tears but I never ever dared dream she would be alongside me supporting me & willing me to be able to have this surgery. Today our prayers were answered. Bless you for helping that to happen.
Later this year or early next year I should be having my gender realignment surgery with Mr Phil Thomas FRCS
Urological Surgeon & the lovely Liz Hills & her team , at
Sussex Nuffield Hospital,
Monday, 16 March 2009
I am due to be volunteering at the hospital all day tomorrow. I appreciated she could not say anything via email. I do not want to let anyone down & not be able to go in on Tuesday. I am not sure if I will be able to concentrate even if I get there but I will try as I may have to take some more time off in the near future. I will sleep on this as best I can & try to decide what is the best thing for me to do. I think I will be phoning my counsellor for advice as soon as I can. It is going to be a long night. My heart is telling me to attend my volunteer session & help out until mid afternoon. I will then probably go to my parents & phone her at a time that is convenient for her. I would not like to miss her & prolong the agony or keep her waiting. I would drive directly over to the hospital but if the news is as I fear it may be I am likely not to be safe to drive my car back home. At the moment I have an appointment to see my counsellor in London this Friday if I am well enough to travel. I am so sorry to have put the poor secretary in this rather difficult situation as she has been so supportive but I need to know my fate & at least the wait may soon be over.
By the end of Tuesday 17th March 2009 the doors to my destiny will be either open or jammed closed, hopefully not for ever. My pathway is out of my control, like so many other unfortunate souls. I am blessed in so many ways & so lucky but tomorrow is going to be a very big challenge. I have so few tears left to spill. I have found my journey has become very spiritual & must keep my faith in God & human nature.
Sunday, 15 March 2009
Then a song being played on the television jolts me back in time to the early 90's before I disclosed my truth, passed on my disease, my condition to destroy my Mum & Dads world for ever. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wk4lCXt7JKo&feature=PlayList&p=384090F33BB5A590&index=3
"Why" by ANNIE LENNOX
How many times do I have to try to tell you.
That I'm sorry for the things I've done.
But when I start to try to tell you.
That's when you have to tell me.
Hey... this kind of trouble's only just begun.
I tell myself too many times.
Why don't you ever learn to keep your big mouth shut.
That's why it hurts so bad to hear the words.
That keep on falling from your mouth.
Falling from your mouth.
Falling from your mouth.
WhyI may be mad.
I may be blind.
I may be viciously unkind.
But I can still read what you're thinking.
And I've heard it said too many times.
That you'd be better off.
Besides...Why can't you see this boat is sinking(this boat is sinking this boat is sinking).
Let's go down to the water's edge we can cast away those doubts.
Some things are better left unsaid.
But they still turn me inside out.
Turning inside out turning inside out.
This is the book I never read.
These are the words I never said.
This is the path I'll never tread.
These are the dreams I'll dream instead.
This is the joy that's seldom spread.
These are the tears...The tears we shed.
This is the fear.
This is the dread.
These are the contents of my head.
And these are the years that we have spent.
And this is what they represent.
And this is how I feel.
Do you know how I feel'cause i don't think you know how I feel.
I don't think you know what I feel.
I don't think you know what I fear.
You don't know what I fear.
My anxiety is off the scale. I am in a catch 22 situation. I do not know which way to turn! I dare not see my doctors or share my concerns with my loved ones & worry them even more. I needed to let my pain out here. My gender stuff is going fine, I tick all the boxes, I meet the surgeons & consultant psychiatrists requirements, its just a physical surgical requirement to correct a defect, yet I cannot trust them not to twist this round to a mental health condition to suit the Primary Care Trusts cunning plan. Do I get back to the consultant who launched my appeal & promised me a reply within 14 days or should I sit & wait? As it turned out I emailed them the following day.
There are other personal issues spinning in my head. The bars of that song still echo through my thoughts. I am feeling too tired & emotionally exhausted to even visit my counsellor. I need some coping strategdy not medication. I will be alright, as long as my Mums well being is not effected but its so hard to keep going. The song is much more applicable to a loving couple than a mother & daughter but it still cuts through me. How you find the courage to get through this tragic situation with a dear wife & children I will never know, just how you survive all the hurt. My heart just could not cope. My heart goes out to you. This life can be so cruel. I feel so vulnerable when I need to be so strong. This is not a cry for help. It just a brain dump, scream on my blog as too how I feel right now. I needed to rest & wanted to slow down & may need to take a break for a short while. Little did I know my fate had already been decided.
Saturday, 14 March 2009
I am reminded of a scene I witnessed on a holiday of a lifetime in 2002 with some dear artistic friends, on my first visit to Africa. An incredible drama unfolded before my eyes. We had spent several magical hours watching a water hole in Savuti , Botswana, an eerie dusty timeless wilderness. The stage was set to watch one of nature’s most fascinating wild theatres. This was the only water for miles around & attracted all kinds of migrating wildlife. There was a certain pecking order as to which species was allowed to drink at any one time. Elephants ruled in day light & it was a joy to watch all the playful interactions & jousting. There were herds of Impala, Wart hogs, Jackals & all kinds of bird life. As darkness descended the hierarchy changed. As the Sun began to descend really quickly, the scene was bathed in a golden glow & there was a sense of the most wonderful peace & tranquillity.
As the light faded into darkness, a group of lionesses appeared from stage right, within minutes of the last elephant disappearing from view. They had been patiently waiting in stealth in the meagre brush which provided limited cover some 500 yards away. Playfully they frolicked around taking in water & the scent of all the thirsty visitors who had only recently paid a visit to “Café Graze”. Those seasoned travellers in our group realised it was too dark to take good photo’s with such limited light. One of the pitfalls on such a trip is that you can easily spend too long behind the lens & not enough just appreciating the whole experience. As a complete novice, transfixed (no pun intended) by the magic unfolding before my eye’s I greedily tried to suck every part of the experience into my memory banks, as well as continuing to futile continue taking photographs. The last blurry photographs of which are included above. I planned on one day using them for a painting but fortunately this time, while planning for tomorrow, I was certainly living for the present day.
What a privilege this was. A million miles away from civilisation & my normal day to day existence, this was an almost celestial experience an exotic mixture of animal heaven, that tickled all my senses. I felt so alive, like never before. Bizarrely I had also never felt more alone in my life, even though I was surrounded by friends. This was like living the most surreal of dreams, almost primeval & totally in tune with nature.
The lions never see us while we are in the vehicle, even though we felt at times like meals on wheels. We were quite safe. They just see a large shape which they assume is too big to be considered as pray, which was quite ironic. Mankind all too easily looks down on these beasts as natural born killers when it is us who should perhaps question our own morality. Should you break the outline of the truck for a moment with a sudden movement or noise & connect with their gaze it is a look you well never ever forget that goes right through you with a mixture of curiosity & total distane. If you ever fell out of the vehicle & tried to run you would look like an easy lunch & be in dead trouble. This was a unique moment in time, a vista that was all about nature, not machismo & mankind, yet.............
As we continued to watch, the silence was deafening. You could hear nothing for miles, not a sound. As the lionesses busied themselves, another character joined the cast. Waiting & watching from the wings just like us, a young lion appeared (photo top right). It seemed like an outsider yet the pride of lionesses seemed at ease with the stranger. Nervously it stepped out of the shadows. This was not the entrance of a magnificent macho king of the beasts. May be this character had not read the script or perhaps they had had enough of playing a role they were never at ease with. Perhaps they just longed to be accepted as part of the pride, the society it felt most comfortable with. The outsider was being tolerated. For what ever reason, this lion was accepted into the pride. I expect I was the only one on our truck that was seeing this unfold from my own unique angle of vision. Even on a trip of a lifetime in such a mind blowing wilderness, dysphoria was still leaking from my soul, through the pores of my skin.
I was enthralled to watch the outsider become more & more integrated with the group. Gradually you could see the new arrival come alive. No longer isolated, the outsider had discovered peace for themselves, that only a short time ago had seemed a distant dream. For a brief moment I was as one with the outsider silently cheering their new found freedom & acceptance. They had worked so hard for their success & risked so much. I wanted to scream out loud & share my secret with the world, which was at the time my truck of artist buddies, but I remained in stasis, silent at this point. To see my favourite characters success was heart warming & inspirational. How I had wished my life could be like this, yet in the back of my mind an all too familiar nagging little negative voice began squealing.
Just as it seemed like there was to be a happy ending to the drama, the plot took a dramatic harrowing twist. Peace & tranquillity was replaced by an air of menace & foreboding. Lions are very family orientated but they can be ruthless cold hearted killers. Like Ghosts in the darkness two very large fat bloated cats bolted out from the tundra ,where they had been sleeping off the benefits of the sumptuous meal, the kill, that had been provided by the determined team work of the pride. They roared their contempt for the outsider, long & loud, which signalled their presence for miles around. Their roar like their icy stare, cuts you to the bone. These kings of the beasts ruled this primeval kingdom. Did this piffling outsider not know their rules? They quickly dispatched the poor creature off to oblivion, by chasing after the newcomer to frighten the poor soul away, possible for ever. We never saw the outsider again.
Initially I was more concerned for the lions well being than the where abouts of the poor love in spite of it being chased off right towards our near by campsite. Showering that evening with my imagination running riot got me into a bit a of a lather & I think we all set personal best times for our showers that night. Camping in the bush, you have to be quite open minded. This was after all the animals kingdom, not ours. At the same time this was natures world & the world would be a better place if we were all able to tolerate, & respect each other & live together in it. Humanity has a lot to answer for. This most amazing life enriching experience on a Botswana evening has left me with the memory of this broken dream, which still haunts me & lives long in my heart.
Life in the wilderness can be brutal & change in an instant, just as it can in our every day lives.
The whole world seems in turmoil, gripped with the doom & gloom of worldwide recession, fear & wars . We all seem to have our own worries. My heart goes out to each & everyone who is suffering. Sometimes I feel like a foolish emotional sponge trying to soak up all the tears of the world. My way of dealing with my fears is by running from my ghosts. I need to count my blessings & hang on to the positive things in my life. I have continued to push myself too hard in an attempt to keep going & perhaps been neglecting my family & friends, as the wheels have started to come off recently. I am full of self doubt & desperately fighting off self pity, yet I know how lucky I am. I am still struggling to sleep properly as that seems to be when my ghosts come a calling. My anxiety screams to me ever louder as I lunge between great sadness, frustration & occasional muted anger as I struggle along my pathway in life. I focus on the wise words of Martin Luther King Jr
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that".
My thoughts & prayers go out to all our friends. I value our friendships so much. I enjoy your successes such as dear Nicky & Rebecca, & share your sadness. A very special inspirational friend who I feel blessed to know, Lori D, who gives so much of herself to others, needs our love & prayers just now. http://lorisrevival.blogspot.com/2009/03/theres-grand-canyon-between-you-and-me.html .
Peace be with you.
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
Shrove Tuesday is a term used in the UK & a number of other countries for the day preceding the first day of the Christian season of fasting and prayer called Lent. The festival is widely associated with the eating of foods such as pancakes, and often known simply as Pancake Day, originally because these used up ingredients such as fat and eggs, the consumption of which was traditionally restricted during Lent. I love Pancakes. The ones my dear Mum makes are my favourite meal.
I may perhaps be slightly biased but I am convinced my Mum makes the best pancakes in the world. We only have them once or twice a year. This year was our first Pancake Day as Mother & daughter. My Mum is slightly old fashioned in her outlook regarding cooking & had been very reluctant to allow Dad or I to help her. She used to stress about “Pancake day” & run around determined to do everything herself. This year she took down the barriers & welcomed me in to her secret pancake cooking world. We had such fun & I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity to share such a day with my beloved Mum & Dad.
Tuesday evening, a dear friend who had just undergone major surgery on her vertebrae which could have resulted in her being completely paralysed phoned me to save me from worrying about her. I had arranged to visit her in hospital on the Wednesday when I was due to be volunteering but fortunately her surgery had gone so well she was able to come home early. She had shown the most incredible courage & spirit. She is a really inspirational true friend. I was determined to go along to my art class for the first time this year, to support the teacher who is a very kind friend. Sadly her Mum had passed away only last week. She too showed incredible courage to take the class. She wanted to try to keep busy & did not want to let anyone down. How selfless she had been. Her beloved Mum would have been so proud of her.
Wednesday was the best day at work I have ever had in my life. It was so uplifting, life affirming & humbling. Working with some of the brave patients & watching in total admiration & respect as the Angels, the wonderful nurses, working in the children’s outpatients, went about their incredible duties. They had the most wonderful motherly instincts for each & every child & guardian who came through the doors. They were so kind, so compassionate so utterly caring. This was the NHS at its best. The staff were so in tune with the needs of their patients. Nothing was too much trouble. Everything was explained to try to put the children & their parents at ease.
The health & safety rules mean many of the girly pleasures I have so enjoyed are forbidden. You must have bare lower arms. No jewelry, no nail polish, no rings, bracelets, piercings or wrist watches. As they are rules which help prevent infections it is a minor sacrifice, well worth adhering to.
During the morning I was privileged to meet the most amazing young patient. She was only ten years old & had already had major transplant surgery. She had to use a wheelchair & due to the treatment she had received been unable to grow normally. Her restricted growth had caused her to appear physically more like a child half her age. She was unfortunately an all too frequent visitor to the hospital. When ever she had to attend hospital she always enjoyed counting all the money that had been kindly donated in the charity collection box. She was so grown up for her age, so alive & so determined to get on with her young life. While we were chatting it gave her Dad time to relax a little. She mentioned she had recently met a well known film star. I expected her to enthuse about her experience but far from being overawed by him she was actually disappointed. He had appeared to be very patronising & talked down to her. He had assumed because of her outward appearance that she was just a child. She was so down to earth about this unfortunate experience. For one so young she was incredibly wise. With my very limited life experiences with children she may well have been politely warning me not to behave in a similar fashion. I hope I never ever judge anyone by their appearance & always treat them with the respect they deserve.
I spent the day doing what ever I could to help out. Sometimes I had to do basic admin duties. Sometimes helping patients with directions, or just making their experience a little less stressful. I wished I could do more to help but was just so grateful for the whole heart warming experience.
Towards the end of the day I was asked to check through some donated video’s & Teddy Bears that had been donated to make sure they were in a suitable condition to be sold to raise funds for the children. Any that were unsuitable or warn out were to be thrown out. The videos were all appropriate & only a couple were slightly worn out. I did not enjoy the responsibility of being the Simone Cowell of the Teddy Bear Auditions. Thankfully every one of the Teddy bears were fit & well, as I could never have voted for anyone of them to be sent to the Teddy Bears graveyard. I have a Teddy Bear of my own who I love dearly, he is in the photo top right of this post. Little does he know but one day soon he may find himself volunteering to be a "Pat dog" with me at the hospital. Teddy's are such great therapy!
I was made to feel valued as part of the team, by the busy nurses. who were doing all the very important work. I felt so humble & so blessed to have experienced such a magical day.
During one evening of what had been such an enlightening week I was saddened to find not all Angels are angelic. The Angels forum I belong to, which is a support group from which I have been so fortunate to find like minded compassionate friends, had been poisoned by a small but very selfish intolerant gaggle of heartless creatures.
Thursday I took my Mum to her hairdressers & did the first part of the weekly shop. On the way home she insisted I checked my post to see if I had received any news about my appeal regarding the NHS funding of my GRS. This has cast a shadow over all our lives but together we have kept going. Every time the postman comes I wonder what news he will bring.
Mums intuition was right there was a letter from the NHS trust on my mat. Once the shopping was put away we went up to my old bedroom at my parents home as we had done so many times before in crisis. My dear Mum came & sat alongside me clutching her Rosary. We said our prayers together. Tears were already streaming down my face. My future lay inside this envelope. At least that is what it felt like. As I opened it, I was aware of my Mum holding me tightly to comfort me. Our bond was closer than ever, our love unquestioned. The letter proved to be a cruel anticlimax as it contained only a duplicate copy of the appeal letter that had been written by my consultant & not the outcome. I have been fighting with the return of my depression & I could easily have slipped backwards. I so hope I can give up self pity & feeling depressed for Lent!
Saturday I managed to attend a volunteer training day at the local tourist attraction I have helped out at for many years. Sunday I worked as a volunteer with another lovely friend helping to collect nearly £500 selling tombola tickets to be used to help raise awareness for endangered Cheetahs. My hard working kind friend co ordinates the tombola which has helped raise over £58,000 for charitable causes in the last year. She works tirelessly for wildlife conservation for which we both share a great passion.
During parts of the last seven days I have really struggled with my emotions. I have cried too much & slept too little but I am trying with all my heart to keep going while I still can.
Everything does seem to happen for a reason. What the letter from the NHS Trust did do, was make me fully appreciate what wonderful experiences I do have, rather than what I have never had. My Mum & Dads unconditional love & support are so precious to me. My friends incredible spirit & those of the patients & nurses I have been so blessed to experience, have made the last seven days a truly remarkable week.
I can thoroughly recommend volunteer work, further details for UK opportunities can be found on http://www.do-it.org.uk/
My heart has been truly touched by Angels.
May your week be full of peace & happiness.