Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Reflections on a slight dip, to my journey.

We patiently watched this Giraffe approach a waterhole in Savute Botswana. in the baking heat of the mid afternoon sun.

She took a very long time to get where she needed to be. Waiting her turn in the pecking order of wildlife that sought the use of this life saving oasis, only too aware of her vulnerability and her surroundings. Her life depended on this. She knew she needed to make that journey.

She could not risk bending down too long & having spent what seemed like a lifetime getting there she vanished, blending perfectly into her natural habitat. With experience she could feel more at ease but perhaps never allow her guard to come down completely.

I appreciate how boring all the medical stuff can get but I thought it was worth mentioning this as a cautionary tale for anyone who has major surgery that during your recovery you need to be careful not to over do things & be kind to yourself.

I recently made the mistake of bending over too long to attend to our corgi who had got rather messy after a walk. I should have been much more cautious. The following day I had to stay in bed resting. My new body still takes a bit of getting used to!

Fatigue continues to be a challenge to my full recovery. Being so much happier in my skin has been a great lift to my spirits, and I felt the only way to improve my stamina was to push my self on. Life has been a bit frustrating recently as I approach 6 months post op.

My diet had been effected by the iron tablets I had been prescribed to help with my mild anemia problems and boost my flagging energy levels. My tummy was in knots as I lay in bed that weekend. Probably eating too many Easter eggs that week had added self inflicted problems. Everything ceased up. I had unknowingly neglected to drink properly where I had been rushing around too much which dehydrated me and left me severely constipated. I was really frightened I might have damaged my surgery and perhaps have prolapsed. We were all worried I was going to end up in hospital. Why do these health crisis, always seem to happen at a weekend?

Fortunately a combination of “Senokot” tablets and the ongoing saturation coverage of the election with the nightmare possibility of the illegitimate son of “the Iron Lady” returning “the nasty party” to power did the trick!

I decided to stop taking the iron tablets & stop feeling sorry for myself. I always like to help if I can & find it hard to say “no” to anyone. It can get me into trouble sometimes. Too often I bend too easily as well as too long.

I foolishly kept pushing myself until the wheels finally came off last Thursday. As my energy levels slumped, my anxiety levels went off the scale. I crazily sat in our car determined to keep my volunteer duty appointment at the hospital that afternoon & I was shaking all over. Mum rushed over & stopped me from driving.

At the emergency appointment with my Gp he confirmed what my body had been trying to tell me. He has been so kind & helpful towards me, throughout my journey to better health & a new life. He did lots of thorough tests. Thankfully no permanent damage appears to have been done. He arranged for more blood tests to see if there is anything unusual that is causing the fatigue to go on but reassured me the chances are its just my body adjusting to all the changes.

I learned my lesson & have had to take things a bit easier. I'm much improved now & managed to do a day at work yesterday. I still have a lot on my tiny mind & find it hard to focus on my creativity as much as I would like.

Life is still good, I hope it is for you.

Be kind to yourselves.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Oh Deer!

Perhaps I have been overdoing things a bit as all of a sudden it all seemed to catch up with me. How many times must a doctor hear that?

As another landmark birthday approaches this year I am of an age where I am too old to die young and hopefully still too young to be considered an old dear, but.....

I did my best with the NHS Admin Computer course but it was not enough. The course was so intensive. By mid morning I had fallen behind. By mid afternoon I was the only one left out of six and as the tutor explained when she asked me to stop, just one of the ten percent who do not finish the course in one session. I completed five out of seven sections and got everything I did right but it felt like I failed. I was dreading failing but consoled myself that I had never seen or used the two different software programmes before & at least I had not panicked or got flustered. I am not going to give up. Sometimes things feel pointless. May be that path is not for me. Its only a failure if I give up and stop trying.

Afterwards I discontentedly went to see the volunteer co-ordinator to explain how I had got on. She told me not to worry and that the admin team I had been working with would need to be able to give me time to watch them using the live system for booking appointments and tracking information. They were all overworked and understaffed, the news of probable NHS job cuts appeared in the local paper that week, so moral was not good. I wanted to help them and not be a hindrance and also gain valuable work experience in the process but I could understandably not be allowed access to the system until I passed the course and they were all so busy.

I felt rather guilty but decided to indulge in some retail therapy and bought the new top I had promised myself just to cheer myself up. It had been the longest day I had been at work for many years and I was exhausted when I finally got home and became overtired struggling to sleep that night as my mind refused to switch off.
I really wanted to improve my chances of finding work so this setback together with more bad news from another company that I had hoped one day might provide me with an opportunity for employment left me temporarily feeling low.

I have financially never been poorer but I was reminded how rich my life is now by the simple pleasures in life I am now able to appreciate. While out walking along the river with my beloved Dad and our doggy in the early morning Sun we were blessed with the sight of a deer on the opposite bank of the river. At first only its white bottom gave its appearance away. I fortunately had my camera with me and managed a picture before it melted away back into the undergrowth. A crowd of our friends gathered to watch and as two gentleman walked by they remarked jovially "look at that Dear photographing a Deer, you don’t get to see that very often!”
As I was make up free, resplendent in my rather unglamorous dog walking gear, skinny jeggings and an old top, in the company of my dear Dad, who had once vowed never to walk with Debbie, with our friends who we had once thought may shun us, my gender not an issue, accepted and perceived the gender I have always been in my heart, this was another life affirming priceless experience.

I have been rushed off my feet recently as I have tried to push myself harder and had some health problems as a consequence but when I returned to the admin team last week they were so kind. Most of them had not passed the course in one session first time and even the supervisor had found the system difficult to learn, as well as some young students. They were all so lovely to me. They took me under their wing and made me feel like part of their team, one of the girls, closer perhaps to being an old dear, more than ever!

May life be kind to you.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

New Beginnings, back to my future.

I hope to make some more progress towards my new future tomorrow.

I begin an NHS admin computer training course which they have kindly sponsored me to go on. I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn new skills and just hope I do not let anyone down. Those new skills will make me more useful in being able to provide them voluntary support and may also help my chance of one day finding employment. If I can manage to take it all in, it should help boost my self belief and well being. For now I am just glad for the workplace experience again.

One day I would perhaps like the opportunity to do a more caring people orientated role but for now I need to continue healing myself, who knows where my journey will take me.

My previous career is not an option for me or something I could ever see myself going back to. My priorities have changed. I will be so pleased just to be well enough to try to get a job. To begin with that is going to be a big enough challenge.

The last time I went on a course I was in a different place mentally. I was pre transition then and in a dark place, so stressed I suffered massive panic attacks and had to give up the course. I am both excited and a little nervous. My anxiety is causing the butterflies in my tummy to work overtime just now. Why is it, my brain cell can remember so vividly what happened a few years ago and remind me in the middle of the night, yet enable me to forget something that was said only five minutes ago?

I still feel vulnerable but I am not afraid in the way I used to be. I am no longer afraid to be me. I feel ready and just want the chance to move on, to live my life authentically. I have a compassionate mind, I can be over sensitive but my heart has never felt better, I have never felt more comfortable in my own skin.

I now know why my counsellor advised I should avoid having GRS and FFS in the same year. My body is still adjusting and so is my brain, to the physical and hormonal changes from my GRS nearly 6 months ago. There is still the odd twinge and alternatively also a lack of any sensation at all. Fatigue and slight post op blues are still a source of frustration but they are all recognised symptoms that should all, given time settle down.

I need to get the work/family balance right and I really want to be up for the challenge and try to find some paid employment this year. Going back to education/work after being away so long feels like a new beginning.

Tomorrow morning I have to be up earlier than I have done in many years to get to the course at the hospital. I hope to look my best and get there on time, so our doggy will only be getting a quick walk. I will certainly be seeing the world in a different light and have a renewed outlook on life. Hopefully I will not suffer a bad hair day and make a monkey of myself. The pictures not me before my make up, in case you are wondering! I could never look as beautiful as the young Orang-Utan from "Monkey World Primate Rehabilitation Centre" in the photo.

If I manage to do well tomorrow it might just give me a better chance of a successful future and I might just remember to treat myself to that new top in the shop that keeps reminding me to buy one, every time I walk by.

May life be kind to you.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Forever Young

We have all been emotionally exhausted this week but we still managed to have a lovely relaxing day celebrating my dear Mums birthday, who in spite of all the worry I have caused her, looks half her tender years of age.

We went to my cousins son "R" funeral on Monday. The rains poured down, so did the tears but so did the love.

This was to be a very special occasion for our small family and a legion of friends, to celebrate the life of a wonderful inspiring brave young man. All of the familiar religious aspects of the service were kept to a minimum. My memories of his life, his great courage and this day have renewed my outlook on life.

As the congregation solemnly walked into the church "R" favourite music played, Kanye West Family Business

There were so many of my cousins son, young friends there, the crematorium was packed. Music was his love, his passion and through this his talents shone. He never moaned always tried to smile, always had a word to say to everyone he meet, without prejudice, with a warm heart.

We watched him grow from a baby to a man. His Mum doted on him. His Dad loved his son so much, they were so close. During his teenage years when he was not in hospital he would often be in his bedroom mixing his music, headphones on, feeling every rhythm, in his own world. He was born to be a DJ. He was a natural. We never got to see him perform but clearly many did. The congregation was full with the beautiful radiant young friends he had made from the night club world he loved so much.

I have never seen so many people, so many young people at a funeral. The readings by his girlfriends and his best mate were both humbling and heartbreaking. He was from a different generation to me, a face book generation. He lived for each day and his incredible spirit proved an inspiration to so many as he continually overcame so many life threatening challenges, with a cheeky quip and a smile.

His grieving brother asked they play the song Forever Young by Jay-Z This songs words are so poignant and left me in floods tears both at the time and when I played them several days later. The music was new to me, from a different generation but it spoke volumes and felt so powerful.

You should never judge people by appearances. In the words of his Mum "to see him some days with his raggedy jeans hanging all over the place you would never believe the kind of person he was". He refused to compromise his life and lived every day he could, like it may be his last.

After the events explained in my previous post the only concession I made to my appearance was to tone my make up down slightly. When we filled into the service there were no seats left and the music playing had slightly unsettled my Dad whose musical taste is from a very different era. We found ourselves directed to a crowd who were standing huddled by the doors near the front, the only space left. Without being asked the young mourners seated in the front row beckoned us to take there places. Young people unfairly too often get a bad press these days, especially those who go out to enjoy a good night out. There is good and bad in everyone regardless of age gender or race.

Seeing "R" coffin directly in front of us between the curtains and listening to all heart rending readings including several from face book comments made me feel so humble, so aware of our own mortality and how fragile life can be. I was not alone as I cried my eyes out, like so many others, whoose cries echoed through the room. When the service was over and we had all payed our respects we walked outside, to a shelter from the deluge of rain, that would not stop, just like the torrent of emotions.

In a sea of young mourners we noticed Dads sister, my auntie who has dementia, cast adrift, looking heart broken, vulnerable and so alone. My cousin was doing her best trying to thank everyone for coming, her husband was in pieces with grief, her remaining son elsewhere in need of some quiet space, leaving my Auntie to fend for herself. We rushed to comfort her at the same time dreading how she may react. She was so pleased to see some old familiar faces.

To see my Dad finally talking with his sister again face to face rebuilding their friendship was a great comfort. She recognised my Mum and her friend we had bought along with us. Not wishing to unsettle her I waited patiently to see any recognition of me, longing to reach out to her but she was totally bemused as to who I, the complete stranger was. The time was right, it really was a case of now or never so as reluctantly agreed with my cousin, Dad introduced the strange woman who was standing alongside her very discretely as Rob. "I did not recognise you, you rascal, you have grown so much taller" she said as we hugged. I have always had long hair and her recollection was probably from me many years ago due to her condition. A very minor piece of family business in proceedings, our small family had been dreading could possibly divide our family for ever, had been overcome. Sadly with her short term memory being so bad she has probably already forgotten the encounter but hopefully it will make a difference to our family. If only her cruel condition would allow her to forget the pain she feels at losing her beloved grandson which will I am sure stay with her for ever and remember only the wonderful times they shared together.

There was a small price to pay as it hurt for a moment being called Rob and it still felt perhaps a compromise too much at the time. It weakened my self respect a little but it was worth it, for family unity. Is a little compromise not a price worth paying to unite a family and prevent a life time of regret? I guess it depends on how much you value what is at stake. I know for me, from my humble life experience, there is a huge difference between sacrificing your life for your loved ones wishes/feelings and small compromises. Life is too short. The day was all about "R" not me. When it came to us offering our condolences to both my cousin, her husband and remaining son, we all exchanged hugs and kisses, no words could ever heal the pain we were all experiencing. As the service came to a close the song associated with his favourite sport football "You'll never walk alone " hauntingly played out. Music was his life his love and his spirit will live on forever.

I have since spoken to my cousin who was so very brave, she was comforted by the incredible show of affection for her beloved son by so many. She has given her blessing for us to resume visiting her Mum again as our meeting did not cause any adverse reaction. So this outcome at least means our remaining family can be reunited, we can now visit my Auntie again. My cousin may be able to gain some much needed respite from caring for her Mum when she needs to, as we can now openly help her as we had always wanted to. In a day of tremendous sadness this really was a small chink of light. Mum Dad and I and our remaining family got through a day that will live forever in our hearts.

Sometimes on this journey through life we have to compromise, sometimes I feel old before my years, sometimes only recently I have felt reborn, almost a second puberty, like a teenager, only knowing by my life experiences "I know nothing" but in my heart I wish I could be forever young.

Happy Easter
Peace be with you