Monday, June 28, 2010

Doctors

Specifically, new doctors. Or new-to-me doctors.

I went to see a new endocrinologist today, because I have not been happy with the care my previous doctor had been giving me with respect to my hormone replacement. I found the new doctor's name and contact information via the local transgender group's site. I had called about the appointment about a month ago, but today was the first available new-patient appointment slot they had. So, I had to wait.

So far, it seems that it was well worth the wait. I immediately felt at ease, and felt that he cared about me not as a problem to be solved, but as a patient, a person, to be cared for. We talked for several minutes about my path so far, after which he declared me to be a post-operative menopausal woman - so, in my current physical state, I am no different from a natal woman who has undergone a hysterectomy. Then he actually looked at me, to see how things were going. Just basic exam type stuff: reflexes, pulse, and listening to my heart and lungs. The other guy never even did that. He also asked to look at my breasts, and noted that the development so far was good, and that the tissue was all breast tissue, and not much fat. So, there is apparently more growth to be done. I can not even begin to convey how excited I was to hear that! He also said that a majority of trans women these days have enough breast growth that they do not need breast implants, as opposed to the 1970s when he began his practice. Also good news!

We went back into his office, and he asked a bunch more questions about my medical history, my family history, and I told him about my depression. We talked about that for a good while, and we both agreed that getting my hormone levels figured out was probably the best (and simplest) first step, which might make other more drastic treatments unnecessary. He described some of the ways the various hormones interact and how they affect the brain, and some of the basic diagnostic tools that are available. I asked a few questions, and he answered them at length. All the while, he was taking lots of notes, but at no time did I feel like he was not paying absolute attention to me.

Once we got done talking, he said that he wanted to take some blood and run some tests on it for hormone levels, and that the results would be ready by Thursday. They drew the blood in another part of the office, and after I took some of it to another lab in the same building, I was done.

I had an extremely positive first experience with the new doctor, and he seems very committed to giving me excellent care. And not just physical care, emotional care as well. It's very obvious to me that he cares about his patients very much, and I'm glad I was finally able to see him. A little bit of hope has trickled into my heart.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Big surgeries

It seems like a lot of trans girls with whom I am acquainted are talking and thinking about their various surgeries, particularly the Big Surgery. I've been thinking about it a lot, and... I'm not sure what to think.

It's something that hasn't been on my radar. Like at all. I've just never really had a whole lot of interest in it. But now hearing so many people talk about it, and reading blogs about it, and watching videos about it, and seeing television programs about it, and knowing a few girls who have recently gone through it, it's on my mind. I really don't want to say what is on my mind now, because it doesn't paint a nice picture, but it's how I'm feeling.

I'm feeling pressure to conform.

Nothing overt, certainly. I know that each of us is very clear that every girl's journey is her own, and no two are required to be alike. We all share many similarities, of course, since our respective goals run along the same lines. But all the same, it feels like there's an expectation there. That's one of the things that I'm "supposed" to do, to take that final step. But what is the real source of that pressure? Despite never having interest before, I'm wondering if that's something that I should think about, something that I do need.

It's got me doubting myself. Have I been living under this false assumption all along, that I won't feel completed until I walk across that bridge? Is this something that I really do want, but that I never even knew about?

I've known for a long time who I was. I didn't want to admit it to myself, or to other people, but eventually the anguish just got too much to handle, and I had to move. But nothing was terribly surprising. It was all there, the whole time. But now this new wrinkle seems to be coming out of nowhere, catching me completely off guard.

I've had two surgeries already. The first was not too bad; both the surgery itself and the recovery were quick and reasonably painless. The other has been a long road. The results are very good, but if I had known then what I know now, I may not have gone as far with it as I did. And now I'm wondering if I need yet another surgery? One that I never anticipated?

I'm spooked, I'm scared, and I'm confused. I've already hit a "what now?" point - I've got a fairly strong suspicion that this awful bout of depression from which I may be emerging, is a direct result of that "what now?" feeling - and now I'm wondering if there isn't more to come. Or is it just the depression talking? Am I manufacturing this as a possible route out from under this huge weight?

I can't relate to many of my trans sisters, because I can't talk to them about it. I don't know about it, because I haven't thought that I would go that route. And I can't share their anticipation and joy. Sometimes, I even feel some anger at them. Why must they rub my nose in it? But when those thoughts come, I have to wonder why I feel like they're rubbing my nose in it, even at the same time that I realize they aren't, but just want to share their hopes and dreams with me. This is the part that hurts the most; it once again puts me on the outside of a group to which I rightly belong. I've been fighting against that my whole life, and now it's happening again.

I don't think I'm gaining much insight from writing this tonight, but sometimes it helps to just get some words out.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A crisis of "faith"?

I am currently out of work, and looking for a new job. Looking for work is never fun, since it can easily turn into a seemingly-endless gauntlet of negative affirmations that "you're not good enough". That takes a tremendous toll on any person, no matter how well adjusted they are.

And apart from that aspect, there's finding something that would actually make you happy, that would make you excited to spend a large part of your life doing. There are a lot of jobs out there, at lots of different companies, with different management and work styles, and finding that precious golden needle in a stack of needles... that can cause a bit of anxiety. Am I looking in the right place? Is this company going to treat me well? Will I get along with my manager and coworkers? Am I going to be able to do this job for the next several years? Or the most important one: is this really what I want to do when I grow up?

I've been doing system administration for the past several years, in various capacities. That kind of job attracted me initially because there seemed to be an infinite variety of tasks which fell under the job description, and on any given day, I would get to do something completely different than what I was doing yesterday. It would keep things interesting, for sure, and there would be great opportunity to expand my knowledge and skills almost without limit.

And exactly as I had hoped, I do have a wide array of skills and abilities at my command. I have had the great fortune to work in some diverse companies, which were using a wide variety of different equipment, in a wide variety of different ways. Some of those companies were not shy about trying new things, and looking in different directions to accomplish their goals, and I was lucky to be able to participate in choosing those new directions and helping to shape the environment in which I worked. I recently acquired a professional certification for which my knowledge of the subject was such that I was able to pass the exam without even studying.

Despite my success, the reality of the situation has come crashing down upon me. Most companies don't actually want people to do a wide variety of things, and they are not interested in letting people expand themselves to take on other tasks; they want people who do one thing, and they want them to do that one thing in a prescribed way. They want cogs. They want limited-use, replaceable, discardable, faceless, nameless, interchangeable nobodies.

It's no longer "personnel", it's "human resources". We're no longer people, who have feelings and families and dogs and lives, we're resources to be used up and thrown away. In my particular job, I'm often treated exactly the same as the machines which I manage - expected to be working and productive 24 hours per day, all the time, never break down, never require maintenance, and take on an ever-increasing workload with no additional resources. To the contrary, both the machines and I need downtime, we need maintenance, and we have needs which must be fulfilled. We have limits which must be observed. When those limits are inevitably surpassed, bad things start to occur. Breakage, sometimes catastrophic, is common in overtaxed systems, and in overtaxed people.

I think I may have suffered the ultimate, critical, catastrophic failure. Finding another system admin job feels like it would destroy me, utterly and irrevocably.

I can't just leave IT and do something else, because that would mean I would lose my earning power, and be forced to start from square one, making entry-level pay. Not only that, but starting any new career fresh would probably mean going back to doing entry-level work, and there's a lot of entry-level work out there that, truth be told, is just the mind-numbing work that nobody else wants to do. It gets shifted onto the people who need the experience, and are willing to endure quite a bit of indignity simply to establish themselves in their industry, whatever that industry might be.

The problem is that I've been there, and I've done that, and I am unwilling to go down that road again. I am not as young as I once was, and I can't play those young-persons' games anymore. But I am smart, and I can learn new things, and I have experience simply being out in the working world.

I had a conversation with C yesterday, during which he brought up an idea which I've had percolating in the back of my mind for some time now: try something related, but not exactly the same. Programming, perhaps. After thinking of what that would mean, I came to the realization that most of my hobbies involve creating something. Programmers create new things, out of mere thought. I have worked as a programmer in the past. A large part of working as a system administrator, at least the way that I approach the job, involves writing new tools to accomplish various tasks. Programming. Creation. This aspect of my past jobs has always brought me the greatest happiness.

My first job in the IT industry was as a programmer. When I cast my mind back, I realize that what made me want to leave the job wasn't that I disliked the work, it was that I disliked the way the company was run, and the way I was treated. Creating new things was a great reward, and a great source of fun and of satisfaction and happiness.

So all this rumination raises the question: have I actually figured out what I want to be when I grow up?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Working, or not

Last post was pretty scary, not only to read (I would imagine), but also to post. That's not a good way to feel, ever. But I've gotten some nice support in some unlikely places, and though I don't know that it's helped per se, just knowing that others are going through similar stuff offers a little bit of comfort. I'm not nearly out of the woods on that, but I've got a plan of sorts. It'll just take some time.

The latest development: I lost my job last Thursday. It wasn't because of my transness, it was because I didn't like the job, and didn't do a super-great job at it. But despite the relief at not having to go back there, there is now the stress of having to find a new job. And not only that, I get to go through the interviewing process in a whole new role.

So far it's been... just another day. I've had one interview on this current job search, and it seemed to go really well. I was able to answer all the interviewers' questions but one, and they seemed happy with my answers. I'm hopeful, but I did also post my resume on a couple of the major job sites this afternoon. More chances is always better than less.